Hot Tubbing And People Watching

By Jane Mountain | May 11, 2013

1646 km so far.

It rained all night last night, and it was still coming down when we woke up this morning, so that made our should-we-stay-or-should-we-go decision much easier. There’s nothing better than a thermal spa to take the rainy day blues away.

Before we could relax though, we spent a few hours at the Hotel Primus getting our work done. This involved drinking a lot of expensive coffee as financial planning professionals attended a conference all around us.

It was strange for me to see all these people schmoozing, talking business, and drinking coffee to get them through their sessions, since I have attended so many similar events. It felt familiar and foreign all at once.

Slippery Slope

Once work was over, playtime began.

In the baths, we started at the ‘tobogan’ – better known to you and me as a water slide. Stephen and I were the oldest people riding it by at least three decades, but we had fun just the same. I gave Stephen some tips for maximising his speed – get up on shoulder blades and heels only – and in no time he was flying around those curves.

Then Stephen told me that this is the first real water slide he’s been on! And this was just the year-round single slide – the real water park isn’t even open yet! It has now become a new goal for this trip to take Stephen to a real water park so he can experience all the joys of watery slides.

wine barrel hut slovenia

Yes, you can stay in a wine barrel.

After sliding, we spent some time hot tubbing and people watching. We marvelled at the huge range of body types. We noted the inverse relationship between belly size and swimsuit size – the bigger the belly, the smaller the suit. We were astonished by the self-consciousness of (some) adults in swimsuits, especially in contrast to the complete lack of self-consciousness displayed by (most) kids.

No Shopping On Saturday

I first heard about Ptuj from a Rick Steves travel show, so we cycled into town to find lunch and get a taste of the oldest town in Slovenia. The town seems charming enough, but for some reason known only to the townsfolk, all of the shops were closed and the streets were deserted. This being Saturday afternoon, it all seemed a little strange.

river in ptuj slovenia

Ptuj’s big river.

We’ve seen this a lot since being in Slovenia. A town that looks like it should be bustling is all closed up, a town with a brand new high street is lined with empty buildings. It’s like there’s a lot of government money being spent to fix things up, but no one to fix things up for. Maybe this explains the large anti-corruption protest in Ljubljana just before we got there.

Mexican In Ptuj

Our tourist map told us there was Mexican food to be had in Ptuj, and Stephen was enthusiastic, so we went. The restaurant was a small maze, with at least five distinct seating areas and a full-on playground. The back room was filled with a party of about 100 people.

In Slovenia, there seems to be a shortage of restaurant staff, because everywhere we go, no matter how big, there’s only one poor, busy waitress to help all the customers. Here there were three waitresses to do all the serving, bussing, and drink-making for a huge party and a full restaurant.

So we ordered, and then we waited. And waited. While we waited we snacked on chips we had in our bag. As hungry cyclists, we have no shame.

Finally the food came.

I felt sad for the chefs, because I know what it’s like to try and make Mexican food without any of the proper raw ingredients (we lived in England for nine years). I felt sad for us because we had to eat it.

If you’d like to recreate our meal at home, here’s how. Go to a generic chain supermarket. Buy all the big brand name “Mexican” foods you can find. Old El Paso salsa, store brand flour tortillas, nacho cheese sauce in a can… put it all together and voila, Ptuj Mexican food.

Stocking Up For Hungary

After this delightful cultural experience, we decided we better hit the grocery store, so off we went to InterSpar, which was in a very large mall called Qlandia. InterSpar is a huge American-style store with almost everything our little tummies could want to eat. We were happy to find a big vegan section with all manner of seitan and tofu.

We also found out why no one was downtown; everyone was at the mall.

Not knowing what the eating scene will be like in Hungary, where we’re headed tomorrow, we bought way too many groceries, so my bike will be at least 5 kg heavier tomorrow. At least I’ll have enough fuel to keep it moving.  

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