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Slovenia (most recently, 2008 & 2010)

Biking 2008
    Slovenia has a strong biking culture. There were a sea of commuter bikers in the cities and mountain bike riders in their Lycra outfits are out in the countryside in numbers in the summer. And the prevalence of bike racks on car tops reassured us that many of the motorists were also cyclists. Inter and intra-city bike lanes are popping up around the country. When between cities and you see a "No Bikes" sign on a 2 lane road, look around for an unsigned bikeway and it will probably be there. We rode an unsigned bike route for miles and miles after asking a couple of cyclists for one. It paralleled the main road much of the way and was a mix of farm roads, neighborhood streets, and purpose-built bike lane. The bug-a-boo is that it was completely unlabeled--you had to know it was there.
    Ask about the Parezana or narrow gauge RR turned into a multiuse path intended to connect Trieste with Porec in Croatia. Only the Slovenian segment is completed and we only used the more coastal part of it but it was a joy. Ask for a map at tourist info.

Biking 2010
    We traveled from Graz, Austria to Liebnitz to cross the border into entija, Slovenia, heading towards Maribor
and encountered Slovenia's bike route #1. We were thrilled at the prospect of following a signed bike route-briefly. Soon we were 2-to-a-bike pushing our 100+ lbs loaded bikes up a 15+% grade. Fortunately that was the last of the long stretches of steep grades on the way to Maribor but it was also the end of the reliability of the bike route signs.
    We did make it to Maribor but not without several short backtracks as we made wrong turns because of missing signs. We switched to relying heavily on our Europe-acquired bike route skill of watching for the backside of bike route signs to spot turns. As on other routes over the years, there seemed to be more well-place route signs for riders going the other direction. Any time we were at an intersection, we'd look for the backs of signs for oncoming riders to confirm the route by determining where the oncoming riders would be coming from. When in doubt, we followed the little roads paralleling the freeway but the bike route switched from one side of the freeway to the other.
    At the outskirts of Maribor, we lost the bike route signs altogether. We don't know if we got off of route #1 or if it wasn't signed that far. Tourist Info in Maribor knew nothing of this route but did give us a dandy map of Maribor's bike routes and of the Drau River route, in English. But the riding was still tough. We weren't able to stay on the route for long after we left Maribor and were on the busy intercity road. The next day, we headed out from Ruse and encountered both busy highway traffic and steep climbs. It was stressful riding where ever we were.

General
   Slovenia expects to be on the Euro in 2007. Many of the 30-somethings and younger speak excellent English, with the older people often speaking German or Italian. The Ljubljana bookstores have the biggest collection of Lonely Planet and similar guide books in English that we've seen anywhere. English is often the second language in public places like on the buses and in museums, which is handy. It's not a bargain as prices are comparable to its EU neighbors. Lodging isn't widely available and so you must 'look before you leap' and confirm your destination town has lodging. Grocery stores close early on Saturday and almost all are closed on Sunday, so plan your weekend food shopping carefully.

Business Hours:  The shops often don't close at lunch but may only be open mornings on weekends

Slovenia's Holidays
   
Jan 1 & 2 New Years
    Feb 8 Day of Culture
    Easter Monday
    April 27 Insurrection Day (Nazi occupation)
    May 1 & 2 Labor Days
    June 25 National Day
    August 15 Assumption Day (All lodging will be booked)
    October 31 Reformation Day
    November 1 All Saints' Day
    December 25 Christmas
    December 26 Independence Day

Lodging in Koper/Capodistria: Hotel Vodisek near the Stadion and 'big box stores' is a solid choice.


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