Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Monday 5/14

KIM: I left Bled on May 14 and took the bus to a town called Radovlica. Later, I will continue on through Ljubljana, on my way to Planina and Postojna, where I have a room in a private home reserved for two nights. The food has been wonderful so far. Yesterday in the Soca Valley I had lunch in a cafĂ© on the outdoor terraced patio which was covered in grapevines. I had goulash made with beef. They also served it with lamb or venison, and I thought about trying the venison, but was told that the spicier stew was made with beef, so that’s what I ordered. The menus are really varied. This country is squashed in between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, so it has dishes from all of those cultures, plus seafood from the Adriatic and trout and pike from the alpine lakes. Bread, potatoes and rice are ubiquitous, and polenta is also very common.

Many people here speak at least some English, but today I am on my own and it is much more difficult to get around. The bus drivers are no-nonsense, don’t speak much if any English and, without actually being rude, seem to wish the tourists who try to drag their suitcases and backpacks on board would just go away! On the positive side, the buses are very clean and air-conditioned so after a strenuous adventure dragging my gear all over town looking for the bus station which turns out to be only a bus stop, I can sit and cool off for a bit! As you can imagine, the street signs, advertising and everything else we take for granted when looking for a clue which way to go next is all in Slovenian, and it is 90% unintelligible. For the most part, everyone is patient and helpful and if I ignore the language barrier, it seems not too different from visiting Canada! In other words, things are only a little bit different from what we are used to in the US. The biggest difference is that nearly everyone smokes!

The weather has been wonderful - mostly sunny and warm, about 65-75 degrees. Apparently spring arrived about three weeks early and there hasn’t been the usual amount of rain, so people are concerned about drought. Everything is green and blooming and lots of the plants and trees are similar to the varieties we have in the Seattle area. Notably, horse chestnut is blooming here, wild strawberries and blueberries, columbine and other common wildflowers. Since I am going south from here on, I am concerned that I didn’t bring enough warm weather clothes!

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