Sunday, August 28, 2011

saturday in slovenia

it's hard to say how it happened. one day, we were gushing to each other about the unbelievably beautiful network of hiking trails in germany and austria, and the next thing you know we're sitting on top of a mountain in slovenia.

we knew we were headed south from austria and, while researching train routes and transportation, we came across a ton of information about hiking in the julian alps. turns out, the slovenes are just as passionate about hiking as the germans and austrians, complete with nordic trekking poles. "honey, would you like to hike through the julian alps?" "what makes them julian?"

well, here we are! a plexi-glass-blurred photo (taken from the cable car gondola) of the drava river valley that is home to maribor (elected the european culture capital of 2012, who knew?), from the mountain above town, doesn't do it a lot of justice but, trust us, it's stunning. soon, we were enjoying our first meal in slovenia: mushroom soup! we even got to use our new words, slovene for yes, no, please, thank you, beer, wine and, the most important, "where's the bathroom?" strange feeling when we realized "this morning, we were in austria. today we're 3000 ft above a beautiful slovenian valley."

getting here was a travel planning dream, connecting three modes of transport in two different languages. in one day we combined a bus, a train, a bus again and a gondola. that's right, a gondola! we left from graz, austria, where yesterday we jumped off the train from vienna. several people had said to us "you should go to graz." well, when the stop arrived, we looked at each other, nodded our heads and grabbed our luggage. in short, we LOVED the place. even though it was 90 degrees, we blissfully dropped off our bags, hiked the schlossberg hill, saw a much-loved turm (you gotta have a turm in europe, apparently), saw the town from above, ate great pumpkin breaded schnitzel and pumpkin soup. you may guess from this that pumpkin (k├╝rbis) is graz's major export, and you'd be correct. the train ride was lined with pumpkins, corn, pumpkins, corn... easily some of the most gratifying twenty four hours we've spent so far.

which leads us to maribor, slovenia and a ski resort about three thousand feet above town at the end of some hiking trails that traverse the julian alps. i think i read that we could walk 300 miles on these trails to the adriatic coast. too bad we got these stupid roller bags or, by gum, we'd do it!  

main bus station, maribor slovenia (avtobusna postaja)
funny where a map will take you. time to hit the trails! we'll report back.
hiking trail map, poharje, maribor, slovenia

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