Jul 27, 2010

Getting Away

Since coming back from the States in February, it seems life has picked up pace consistently over the months, May being the most hectic. June let up a bit and July has finally wound down to practically zero. The holidays are coming along. I decided to take a trip before our annual Calabrian jaunt. I wanted to get away from the daily routine, the weather, the language...the norm.

I like the feel of being in a foreign country finding my way around. So I decided to go to Slovenia, close enough but foreign enough to take care of this itch. (As a short side note, I found a lastminute ticket to Turkey and bought it through the website to leave the next day. At the AIRPORT, I was told the ticket was not paid for and I would have to pay for the ticket at the airline counter. The cost of the ticket alone cost more than the whole trip with hotel. I decided to cancel the trip and A drove all the way back to pick me up again)

I haven't downloaded photos yet, but just wanted to note one thing. My first stop in Slovenia, at the coast, the furthest from Italy, I was sitting in the dining room, on a rainy evening, listening to at least four families chatting away in their native Italian. The next morning I was back on my motorbike and headed way inland. I am now in Kamnik and am surrounded by the white noise of a foreign language and I love it.

Jul 26, 2010

Medieval Piran Slovenia on the Adriatic Coast


The benefit of a motorbike...the roads were closed to traffic, but they let bikes pass through.

While trying to evade very large raindrops yesterday, I took shelter at what turned out to be the tourist info center. I learned that right next to Portoroz, was an old medieval town of Piran. Naturally I had to go.


Jul 25, 2010

Entering Slovenia from Trieste

The Italian border was within reach, I just had to decide if I'd enter from Nova Gorica or from Trieste. I chose the latter because I was curious to know what it was like. The coastal street was lined with cars, probably a regular Sunday event in the summer. At most places, there was a healthy hike to the beach below.

I stopped long enough in town itself for gas and then continued to the border. Fortunately, I stopped to buy a map for Slovenia and discovered I had to puchase a permit for the length of my stay. €7.50 for a motorbike for a week.

No border control since Slovenia is a part of the EU so I rode right through. This reminds me of the Swiss / Italian border where there are guards who basically wave motorbikes through - no check. Even better, at lunch time when tummies are more important that border checks, there's no one to be seen at the check point.

My curiosity kept me going toward the coast even if I was to go the other direction. Just as well, because I'd had my eye on a very heavy looking gray cloud that was hovering overhead. I randomly chose a hotel, the Marco Hotel.

Reception must have had a sick sense of humor: he gave me the parking pass for the underground garage. It was a trick trying to open the garage door after I'd passed the remote sensor and the road was in a steep decline. I bet they had video cameras focused on the gate and were watching for entertainment. Have you ever tried to park a bike that is pointing downhill?

Portoroz was 'perfect' for me with Casinos, a million people on the beach and noise, noise, noise. A thunderstorm gave it a 'like back home' appeal and I was drenched in a few short steps. Dinner at the hotel, because I wasn't a-goin' back out in the rain, was more of a back at home feel with every table occupied by Italians.

It seems like I didn't get far enough away.

Three women and the Italian Osteria

I left Padova along the surface streets and passed villa after beautiful villa. A ferry and other private boats were parked along the canal. I would have liked to stop again in Venice, but this trip was about getting to Slovenia.

I stopped at an Osteria or Cantina along the road for lunch....and for the first time since being here in Italy, experienced Italian rudeness. I sat at a table outside and waited for someone to take my order. A family arrived minutes later and within seconds, the server came to their table...but not mine. I ignored A's tongue in cheek advice to break something to draw attention and went inside to place my order.

The young woman at the bar asked me what I wanted and when I told her, she seemed to freeze, then mumbled something without looking at me. I got the impression I'd have to wait outside, but pushed my luck to ask for a glass for the bottle of water I pulled from the fridge. She froze once more and again without looking at me, mumbled some other mumbo jumbo....then walked away.

I walked back to my table somewhat sure that I'd not be seeing any food anytime soon, but thought I'd give them the benefit of the doubt. No-one came. I drank my water and should have just plain left, but I thought I'd better pay. The three women working the counter ignored me, then chatted amongst themselves about some other customer who'd just left. One walked PAST me to go back to the tables, the young one didn't even come near me. I addressed the third one as she was walking past with "I'd like to pay" and finally got attention.

I wasn't surprised then, when I stopped at a restaurant run and serviced by women from Croatia, that one of them out of the blue said that she'd come to Italy thinking it was more open minded but sadly found that it was not. With neighbors like the three at the Osteria, I can understand her feelings.

Jul 24, 2010

Across Italy to Slovenia

My adventure started in a rather boring way....miles and miles of freeway. I'd left late and wanted to eat up some miles. So the first stop for the night was in Padova. I heard the old town was worth a visit and against my better judgment I decided to go out to eat and check out the town. 

At the end of the evening, I decided that there were some things that I had to make into law.
       -- Don't go out on the bike if I am tired. Because if something can go wrong, it will go wrong.
       -- If I forget any part of my gear, and I can go back for it, go back.
When I left the hotel room, I'd forgotten my gloves in the room. I thought, "oh, it's just down the road, I won't be long.". One road deviation later and a few circles around the center, I finally parked and walked around, taking only one photo. The batteries ran dead. Hmm. It was only the beginning.

I planned to stop at a trattoria I'd seen on the way down, but one wrong turn led me to a one way road to the train station....with all sorts of people just hanging out. Needless to stay I didn't stop.

Another round-a-bout way finally found me back on the right road but as it was late, I decided to do the unthinkable and eat at a McDonalds. After all, it would be fast and I'd be back at the hotel in no time. 

Back on the bike, I managed to miss the turn-off to the hotel and ended up on the one way road that leads to the toll booth that spills out onto the freeway. My last thought as the bar went up was that gloves would have been nice.

The other thing about Italian freeways is that when you miss an exit, you pay dearly for the mistake in miles / kilometres. I took the first exit about 15 minutes later, put on my fleece as the night was rather cool, asked for directions from a couple who had no clue what they were talking about (I found out later) and was back on the freeway to Padova. 

By 11pm I was back at the hotel swearing that that would never happen again.