We left Venice early to avoid the crazy traffic we’d witnessed yesterday, so it wasn’t too bad apart from one scary bit where we had to cycle across a 5 lane overpass. Yikes.
After we made it through the city traffic, the roads were narrow with agricultural land on either side, not that we noticed any difference in driving style. I pretty sure driving lesson number 1 in Italy is, Driver courtesy: “never be afraid to use your horn. Beep at all opportunities. If in doubt, beep again. In fact, just lean on the horn constantly”. Lesson number 2, Manoeuvres: “when not beeping (or, in fact, whilst beeping) overtake the car in front whenever you can, preferably at pointless and inappropriate moments. Blind corners, for example, are the perfect opportunity to showcase your overtaking skills”. Okay, maybe a little harsh, but it really was noticeably scarier cycling in Italy than Spain and France and we had now witnessed two accidents, including one Smart car ploughing into the back of queued traffic right beside us.
Always on the lookout for an interesting or scenic place to stop for lunch, we spotted a Vespa club gathered outside a bar, so we ate our bread and cheese there and watched the mopeds convoy past us.
After 76 miles (just over 6 hours of cycling), we made it to Aquileria, had a beer then went out for a little wander. We marvelled at the mysterious internet shed on the campsite…
…maybe that’s where the internet lives? Sadly, we couldn’t find out as it was locked. Then, even more exciting than the internet shed, we discovered a World Heritage Site right outside the campsite; an old Roman city which was excavated in the 1920s and extremely well preserved, no thanks to hoodlums dancing about and posing on the ruins…
Why Nev chose to do a Bruce Forsythe impression when I pointed the camera at him and told him to pose like a Roman statue, I’ll never know.
Probably the same reason I did this bizarre stance when it was my turn. Derps.
The next day, we started cycling towards Slovenia, which is when it started getting a little hilly, but with only 30 miles to our next campsite, it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.
We stopped for a brief rest at Sistiana to admire the Adriatic Sea before heading to our campsite right on the border with Slovenia.
The campsite was a strange cute little thing right next to an airport and under a flyover with a tiny caravan as the reception.
After our worst tent erection yet (the ground was so hard we had to use rocks instead of tent pegs), we had hyot dawgs for lunch – an impulse purchase based solely on the product name with zero consideration for nutrition or quality. Yums.
After the Wudys, with our free afternoon we cycled 5 miles to visit a cave called, quite simply, “GIANT CAVE”. It is apparently the biggest show cave in Europe and was indeed giant and pretty impressive although the tour was in Italian and we had to wait, skulking at the back behind the rest of the class for the English loudspeaker version of the talks, which strangely took less than half of the time of the actual talks. Feeling a little bit like we were missed out on some key giant cave factoids, we spent the waiting time taking lots of photos of rocks that it’s highly likely we’ll never look at again. Nobody needs more than 40 pictures of rocks. Nobody. The odd one or two though, maybe…
Stalagmites grow tall and mighty…
After the cave, we cycled back past the campsite and into Slovenia. One of my favourite activities in a new country is checking out the supermarket and the Slovenian Tus supermarket did not disappoint.
In the doorway to the shop was another vending machine to add to our “wacky and interesting vending machine spots”: A milk vending machine!
Inside, there were all kinds of bonkers looking foods on offer, most notably in the meat counter which had an interesting array of meats including pigs’ trotters and other, more indecipherable animal parts. Playing it safe, I managed to order 300g of what I’m pretty sure was beef mince for tea.
Packing our bags up outside the shop, we were approached by a Slovenian man with 4 teeth. At first, I thought he was just a friendly, slightly eccentric yokel. He was really intrigued by our pannier racks, touching (stroking) them and asking how much they cost. Then I realised he was also on a bike and his bike had two supermarket bags attached to the handle bars with a bike lock. He started loading his shopping into his carrier bags and we were about to leave when suddenly, he said “one moment” and we waited while he got some leaflets out of his bag, brought them over to us and started explaining about a horse parade that was happening tomorrow at 3pm and another cave we should visit. I politely took the leaflets and we started to leave again, but then he started looking in his bag for more leaflets. By the fifth leaflet and the third time of hearing about the horse parade at 3pm, I was convinced he wasn’t just a friendly toothless local, he didn’t work for the tourist board and he was indeed a crazy.
Worried about our beers getting warm, we eventually said a final, firm and successful goodbye and pedalled away, leaving him fishing about in his bag (probably for another horse parade leaflet).