Our time in Slovenia was marked by the presence of water. Luckily we had seen that rain was coming so, wondering if we were being overly cautious and had become soft during our mostly sunny cycling so far, we booked a room in a guesthouse for a couple of nights.
We stocked up on supplies from the nearest town, and made our way to Gasthaus Mlin. It seemed a shame to be planning on spending several days inside when we had only reached Slovenia the night before – the River Soca and surrounding mountains made for an enticing environment. If it didn’t rain as much as was expected maybe we could explore the hills on foot, we thought optimistically, or do some rafting, or go for a pedal up past Triglav without our heavy bags!
In the middle of the night however, whilst tucked up in bed, the rain began. And boy did it rain. Other than a few short pauses for breath, it didn’t stop for four days. Our decision to find shelter had been a good one – cycling in that weather would have been somewhere in-between miserable and impossible. In fact our four-night stop had to be extended for a fifth to let the worst of the rain storm pass.
Luckily the guesthouse had a covered outdoor kitchen, so even though it was chucking it down outside we could enjoy some fresh air as we cooked, sheltered from the rain. The two-ring gas stove was a luxury in comparison to our little trangia.
We passed the time staring at maps and planning our onward route through Slovenia, catching up on our woefully delayed blog, washing our clothes, fixing all the holes in our bags, trying to practice some yoga in the comically small amount of floor space we had, watching movies, doing some bike maintenance, researching visas for the Asia leg of our trip and making pancakes, amongst other very exciting tasks.
Cabin fever set in on about day three : Pedro was the worst affected, so he bravely made an outing to town to replenish supplies during one of those brief pauses in the rain. He only got a little bit wet.
As we left we passed again the river we had crossed a few days before – it was no longer calm and clear blue, but a white raging torrent. Any aspirations to go kayaking were gone. Water seemed to be everywhere, pouring down the hillsides and filling puddles in the road, dripping from trees and sodden picnic benches.
Somewhere in the midst of our hibernation from the rain, the clocks went backwards for daylight savings. Given that we generally try to cycle only in daylight hours this was going to be a little restrictive to our schedules. The first night after we left the guesthouse we were cooking dinner at 1630.
Just before lunch after hibernation +2 days, we were zooming down a hill admiring the mountains emerging from the thick layer of surrounding lower cloud when the rain began to fall again. After 5 minutes we were soaked and after 10 we were frozen. The nearest town wasn’t so far away so we made a dash in the hope of finding shelter. Soon, but not quite soon enough, we found ourselves in a bandstand dancing around to try and warm ourselves up – not for the first time on our trip.
The rain again not looking like it was going to give up anytime soon, we again found ourselves looking for somewhere warm and dry to stay. There are many flaws with airbnb, but in times like this it is hard not to appreciate the ethically questionable platform. The use of our phones was not aided by the water rolling down our faces onto the screens or the fact that our fingers were so cold the screen would not recognise their swipes. But soon two soggy cyclists were welcomed into the home of Ivan and Marja with a plate of cookies and glasses of rakija.
Even better than having access to a warm shower, we were upgraded from our double room to a self-contained apartment in the attic. Pancake making and bread baking ensued.
The next day the rain paused just long enough for us to take pannier bag free trip to Bohinj Lake – the little brother of the nearby Bled. The day was not windy but still cloudy and the reflections of the mountains and clouds in the lake played tricks with our eyes, looking like a Rorschach inkblot test.
Despite the outside temperature, Pedro considered going for a swim whilst I looked on sceptically wondering if we’d be swimming home if we hung around much longer. There had been so much rain in the past week that many of the benches around the lake were partially submerged and pedestrians were having to make a detour around the giant puddles which we gleefully pedalled through.* The water had clearly been even higher recently as in the surrounding field the high-tide line was visible in a wiggly line of twigs and dead leaves.
As predicted, just as we decided to leave the rain began yet again. But, knowing that we had a cosy place to go back to, with a roof and blankets and a copious supply of hot water for tea, this time we could enjoy splashing through the puddles on our way back to our temporary home.
During our second hibernation we discovered that whilst Slovenia was getting an awful lot of rain, this was nothing in comparison to the severe storms that were hitting the North of Italy. We had infact been incredibly lucky to leave the Dolomiti when we did and to have had such good weather when we were there. Much of the landscape that we had loved so much in the weeks before was now ravaged by landslides and high winds, closing roads and destroying acres and acres of ancient forest.
When the rain finally stopped two days later, having been stationary for so long we were both itching to get back on our bikes. After a short lesson in Slovenian and being reminded in a very motherly fashion to put on our helmets, Marja waved us off on our way towards lake Bled.
* Not so little brother might hate me for this, but pedalling through these puddles reminded me of an occasion 25 years ago… Said sibling reached a large but avoidable puddle and decided to cycle across it. He soon realised the puddle was so deep that his feet were going to get wet and so lifted them off the pedals, not anticipating that he lacked the momentum to get to the other side. Before reaching dry land, the bike stopped rolling and tipped to sideways into the puddle, rider still attached. Hilarity ensued for all but the very wet cyclist.
He has an electric bike now, no puddle will defeat him 😉
More photos here!