GUEST BLOGGER: Penny dishes the dirt on cycle touring

Sorry to disappoint the regular readers, but tonight’s entry will be penned by a guest blogger – Penny (I’m the friend Meg met in Venice and who will be accompanying her to Budapest).
I shan’t be straying too far from the format we know and love – a round up of the last few days cycling, but I thought I’d start with some things, you may not know about Meg’s travels which surprised me, a fellow blog follower.

1. When Meg offered me a cup of tea at our first camp she had a greater selection of teas than I have in my flat!
2. She’s rivalling Jamie Oliver in her range of one-pot meals.
3. Her current average daily intake of chocolate is 100g, ate in one sitting, in the evening.
And 4. She hasn’t yet washed her hair!
Anyway, I’m not here to review her hosting skills or discuss hair styles, let cut to the chase.

After the painful-at-the-time-but-worth-it-in-the-end, bike in a box, on a plane experience, I met Megan at the airport, and we successfully transformed my flat pack luggage back in to a bike (it hasn’t fallen apart yet)!

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Thanks to those who made this possible

 
Venice to Trieste offered, what Meg would describe as a boring 150km – flat with no good views. However this was a great introduction to European touring for me, with good roads, minimal navigation needed, and not too much traffic. We broke it up with a wild camp behind a rather large hedge about half way. Trieste delivered exactly what we needed, a dip in the sea, a real bed for the night and a fancy meal i.e. a meal made in more than one pot (granted Megan probably needed this more than me having spent the last 6 nights in a tent!). (Thanks and get well soon to Emma)

Day 3, in to Slovenia (eventually, after some minor navigation errors on some major roads) and the hills began. This was a day of cycling written by nursery rhyme creators – in the morning they went up up up and in the afternoon they went down down down, and when they were up they were despondent, grumpy and pessimistic and when they went down, they went weeeee all the way home! To Debbie, Eric, Finn and Roma’s home in Ljubljana and my first warm showers host experience. A train set, home made taco’s and some great chat – I could get used to this cycle touring.

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Loving life

Having explored the old town and topped up on camping gas we headed down the Sava valley, then North East to Ptuj.  And I can confirm, Slovenia is beautiful; mountains, forests, wooden barns laden with drying sweetcorn, log stores to last a lifetime and sunshine! The route was in the main, a lovely amble along the valley floor next to the railway(!!) however, occasionally the ‘next to the river, quiet road’ took a ‘short cut’ from one meander to another – over a hill…

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Quiet ‘flat’ road next to a railway

Between the 2 days of cycling we stayed in a farmers field, where once agin we were blessed with the Slovenia’s friendliness; we’ve met some lovely people and had peanuts, ice cream, water and apples given to us to help us on our way!

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Exploring Ljubljana

So, we find ourself in the thermal pools of Ptuj, enjoying a beer in the jacuzzi (all in the name of healing my hurting muscles you understand)!  And I like to think Meg has enjoyed my company thus far… whilst she’d never admit it, I think she loves being told which railway bridges are compliant with EU electrification standards; she has the benefit of a talking thermometer (“it’s sooo hot”; “this sun is HOT!”) and I think the running commentary on my number of bites and their itchiness gives her trip a dimension it was previously lacking!

Thanks for reading my first blog, things will be back to normal next time!

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