Youth Art And The Young At Heart

By Jane Mountain | May 9, 2013

1575 km so far.

We had a slow morning this morning, visiting Ljubljana’s daily market for some fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh pasta, and snapping a few more photos of the plentiful graffiti in Ljubljana.

street art in ljubljana slovenia

Note the 90210 graffiti.

We also made a quick coffee stop at Cacao.

We had the most delicious pistachio cake there last night (seriously, maybe the best cake we’d ever eaten), so we assumed their soy cappuccinos would be worth the stop. How wrong we were. The coffee was worse than the coffee in the hostel, which was brewed by youths on work experience. So, Cacao, we give you the award for the best cake and the worst coffee in Europe. Congrats!

Strange Brains Indeed

Our route out of town was the same as yesterday’s route, taking us past Dragomelj and Domžale, which we have affectionately renamed Dom Joly.

Hello? No. I’m in a village in Slovenia! No, it’s rubbish!! Total rubbish!

This is a joke only Brits and Anglophiles will get. If you don’t understand, watch this.

I must mention that Domžale is not rubbish at all. In fact, it’s a charming little town, with the perfect cyclist’s town square. There’s a market, a bio store, a milk vending machine, and a public WC. Everything a cyclist needs!

To pass the time, we often make up anglicised names for things as we go along. The town of Laze became Lazy. Logatec became Logitech. Riding through Log inspired several choruses of the log song from Ren & Stimpy.

If you could hear our train of cycling comments and thoughts, you would know for sure that we’re crazy.

Damn Disappointing Donuts

Our first target for the day was the town of Trojane, where we’d heard Europe’s best donuts were to be had. These things have won awards. With a slight headwind and a slight upwards grade, we miscalculated the number of snacks we needed to get us there, and a couple of kilometres away from Trojane, we were both crashing. Still, we pushed on, because… donuts.

We (especially me) got a bit whiny about the whole thing, I’m sad to admit.

After a last long climb, we reached Trojane, got our donuts and sat down to a pre-lunch snack. The donuts were… um… big. That’s about all I can say in their favour. The cream filled (not vegan) chocolate-iced donut was the size of Stephen’s head but had as little cream as possible squeezed into one small part of the donut.

big donut slovenia

Huge and overrated donut.

Disappointing. Probably should have had one of their amazing-looking cakes instead.

As we were putting together our picnic sandwiches for lunch, Stephen spotted a couple of touring cyclists coming up the road from the other direction, so after lunch we went over for a chat.

Italian Inspiration

Meeting these two intrepid Italians, Giovanni and Maria Antonia, was the highlight of our day. For a start, Maria carved off huge hunks of parmesan from their stash for each of us to snack on. Man, Italian parmesan is unbeatable.

Giovanni and Maria Antonia, our Italian cycling friends.

Giovanni and Maria Antonia, our Italian cycling friends.

Then, when Giovanni told us they were nearly 70, Maria strongly objected, proclaiming “66 only!”. Still, even at that young age, we were pretty impressed with the tour these two were doing. From their home in Italy they’d ridden through Europe, doing daily distances to beat us.

As we started down the hill they’d just come up, we were doubly impressed. This hill went on and on and on and on. I enjoyed the downhill, but all the while I was picturing the two Italians, with 25 years on us, pedalling up it. They hadn’t even mentioned it to us – presumably because it was no big deal.

Whenever I get whiny and complain about how tired my legs are and how hard the road is, there’s always something like this to remind me that it’s all in the attitude, and that my body is more than capable of handling whatever my mind will let it.

After the downhill, we were in hops country. Despite its tiny size, Slovenia is one of the world’s top hops producers – number 6 if Wikipedia is to be believed. Every field we rode by was filled with wooden and string supports, with tiny plants at the base, just starting to get a foothold in the world.

hops growing in slovenia

Hops as far as the eye can see.

It made the rainy afternoon more bearable for Stephen, knowing that the hops were growing because of it.

Youth Hostels Are Wasted On The Young

For some reason we’ve been staying in youth hostels a lot in Slovenia. Hostels have sure come a long way since we backpacked Europe in the 90s. Apparently, hostel design is a thing now, at least in this part of the world. No longer are you thrown into a big room with some ancient beds, where you can listen to each other snore all night, and watch each other too, if that’s your thing. Now, even the dorms have some sense of style, the shower rooms are nicer than any spa you’ve been to, and the bathrooms give you a decent level of privacy.

Tonight we’re at the MCC hostel in Celje, which is themed around the “heroes of Celje” except for our room, which for some reason has a Love theme. It seems it was inspired by Alfred Nobel’s mistress, Sophia Hess, who got a hefty monthly payment from Alfred, and at times lived in Celje. The room had hearts all over the ceiling, photos of love graffiti decorating the wall, and a very cool glassed-in balcony that took us out alongside the roof. For some reason, the love room also has twin beds, which seemed to run against the theme a little.

hostel room slovenia

Twin beds in the love room. Hmmm…

It’s amazing how inspiring (and comforting) it is to stay in a place where form, function, and design have been considered and executed so well.

Far better than staying in a hotel, and you get to cook your own meals as well! Huge bonus.  

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