slovenia

Cycling Europe Day 57: My Body Told Me to Properly Visit Riga – My Body Was Right

Listen to your body. I’ve learned that time and again over the years. People about you will always have brilliant advice on what is good or not for you. They will have objections on your lifestyle. They will tell you what to eat and how to exercise. We all have common sense and most of us already know what is healthy and what is not.

I live what I believe is a generally healthy lifestyle. I listened to my body yesterday and it told me I needed a rest. So I gave it a rest.

This morning my husband and I slept in. What that means is that instead of getting up at 6am we got up at 7am. We ate our breakfast slowly, even though neither of us are ever ones to rush through what we feel is the most important meal of the day. We then spent the morning walking around Riga, Latvia’s capital city, and, because I’m listening to my body, I then took a short but much needed nap.

As a rather frequent traveler, I’m surprised and ashamed about how little to nothing I know about the Baltic states. I am incredibly impressed with Riga. It rivals cities like Vienna and Prague in its architectural beauty, in my opinion, yet if you asked me three months ago what the capital of Latvia was, I’d ask you, “Where the heck is Latvia?”

(more…)

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Cycling Europe Day 38: When Passion Wears You Down

I’ve had a few jobs that I’ve absolutely loved. Have you? You know how you just love going to work, you love what you do, you enjoy it, and you wouldn’t give it up for anything? But still there are times when you thank God that the weekend has arrived. Or you can’t wait for your next holiday. Or you come home one evening completely exhausted and you wonder how you’ll manage to keep going?

This trip is becoming that job that I absolutely love but that also wears me down sometimes; except instead of getting paid for it I’m spending money left, right, and center.

I really had planned on trying to make this a budget trip. I was going to camp as much as possible to cut down the costs. But then you have many days like today where you cycle more than 100km in blazing heat and by kilometer 90 you decide, “Fuck money. Fuck, fuck, fuck money! I am not going to camp after all this. I want a room. And a bed. And space. And electricity to charge my equipment. And a decent breakfast in the morning. Fuck money!”

I’m feeling really worn out.

I think the Slovenians traumatized me. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 37: A Loose Sphincter and Nice People

Today started badly. I peed in my pants. But then it got better.

I was relieved to see this sign today.

I was relieved to see this sign today.

I vividly recall the last time I peed on myself. I was 11 and we were at my friend Dietra’s house celebrating her birthday. We were playing hide-and-go-seek and Dietra and I were hiding in the downstair’s closet. For some reason I thought it was hilarious and I laughed so hard until I peed on myself. I asked Dietra to swear not to tell anyone. So what did she do? She told EVERYONE. (Love you, Dietra!) I had to wait somewhere until my mom came to pick me up. The whole thing was very embarrassing.

I wasn’t laughing today. In fact, I was very stressed. Yesterday’s multiple episodes of unkindly motorists had me very concerned for my safety on the roads of Slovenia. I had one hour to cycle before I reached the border of Austria and it couldn’t come to soon. I wanted out.

I always have to pee within an hour of having breakfast. It’s never enough to try to squeeze my bladder dry before I start my ride. This morning I needed to pee about 45 minutes into my ride. Remember how I said Slovenia was a safe haven for FPFCs (Frequently Peeing Female Cyclists)? Well it isn’t. It was just that one road from Gorizia to Ljubljana. So I’m looking for a place to pee. I’m quite modest in my requirements. But I’m having great difficulty finding any place that fulfills even my modest requirements. Then I finally spot a side road that leads up to a house far up the road. The road had a big tree on one side and high grass. If I crouched in just the right spot, most people on the main road would not be able to see me. I get off my bike, lay it on the grass, and search for that perfect spot. The second I find it, and just as I begin to reach to pull down my pants, my sphincter thinks my pants are already down and, in a reflex reaction, relaxes a second too soon. I feel warmth spread through my cycling shorts and a trickle go down my leg. I quickly pull down my pants and let the main bulk of it go where it was supposed to go. But now what?? I tried to pat my cycling shorts dry with some toilet paper. “My, that inner padding these pants have is absorbent,” I quickly observe. But I still have wet pants. Nothing that is noticeable to an outsider though, thankfully. I pull my pants up and feel very uncomfortable. “Nothing about this is to be mentioned to ANYONE!” I warn all the people in my head. “We’ll see about that!” cackled Blogger Nadia, one of my more dominant personalities in the past few years. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 36: Mean Motorists

All it takes to ruin someone’s day is a few mean motorists, a ride longer than 100 km, and many very steep hills.

I’ve had an awful day.

It all started as I was navigating myself out of Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. An idiot motorist intentionally swerved into me to scare me. I knew what he was trying to do. He was trying to make a point. I shouldn’t be on the road. I should be on the sidewalk-bike-path.

I’ve been generally avoiding those paths in every country I’ve been in. They are always very poorly maintained: full of cracks and potholes. They also twist and turn and you have to cycle up and down curbs. If I were city cycling, going on a short errand with my bike, they would be acceptable. But when I’m on a road bike with 15kg of weight needing to get from one city to the next, they are useless.

So this idiot swerves into me. Nothing happens. I’m cycling slowly because I’m trying to figure out directions. He did not frighten me but I did get upset. He had to stop at the traffic light just ahead, so I maneuvered myself to the back of his car, knocked on the back window, and shook my finger at him (it gets worse..I’m so useless at spur of the moment anger). I then went to his window and told him, as he rolled down the window, “That’s not nice!”

He started to tell me I am supposed to be on the sidewalk. I told him, “I have a long road!” (that will tell him!). He gave me a long lecture about how I had a sidewalk to cycle on and that it would be bad for me if the police caught me. The guy spoke very fluent English. I started to say, “If I’m wrong….” when the light turned green. As he headed off I said, “You, you, you…” and managed to yell at the back of his car, “You shouldn’t try to kill people!”

That whole episode went very differently in my head shortly afterwards. (more…)

Cycling Europe Day 35: Gorgeous Slovenia

Slovenia! I did not know what to expect and you absolutely took my breath away! What

There was no border between Italy and Slovenia.

There was no border between Italy and Slovenia.

a beautiful country.

Let’s just start by saying that Slovenia is a safe haven for Frequently Peeing Female Cyclists (FPFCs) like myself. There are more than enough small side roads and big trees to hide behind. It was heaven today. I just stopped whenever I felt the urge even beginning to reveal itself. Heaven!

I started my morning in Gorizia, Italy. I already knew I was very close to the border with Slovenia. But, man! One minute I was in Gorizia cycling down one of its quiet streets lined with houses and a school, and suddenly I’m in Slovenia. There was no border. One was just the continuation of the other. Two cities, two countries, as one.

Almost immediately I found myself heading up into the mountains. It was so beautiful,image so green, so quiet. I passed tiny, tiny villages the whole way. There might be four houses in one village, eight in another, twenty in yet another. They were just really nice small houses in the mountain. What a way to live.

The road gradually got steeper and steeper as I headed upwards. Yesterday I asked the hotel receptionist how steep the road was. He said, “You have cycled in the Alps before?” I said, “No. But I did the Pyrenees.” He said, “Phttt. Then it will be nothing.”

I have no idea why I said I “did” the Pyrenees. I crossed them. From what was probably the least Msteep point in the whole range. Today’s climb was not phttt just as I have not “done” the Pyrenees. I went from sea level to 815 meters. Fifty of today’s 90km were uphill. That’s not phtt. Yet it was doable. And if I compare today’s climb with others I’ve done on this trip, there is at least one other that was more difficult and maybe two others that were the same.

I was taken aback by Ljubljana. I really did not know what to expect. I could live in this town. It’s beautiful. It’s one of those few towns I’d love to come back to with my husband, along with Girona, Spain and Verona, Italy.

Ever since I started this trip, when I’ve cycled into a town on a Sunday afternoon, they have all been dead like ghost towns. Ljubljana was absolutely alive. There were rallies, singing, dancing, shops and restaurants open, people strolling. It’s wonderful!

Take a look at this video. I assume this is what Slovenians normally do on Sunday afternoons. Isn’t it wonderful?

Today I got soaking wet, freezing cold, and climbed for what seemed like forever. Today was a perfect day.

Cycling Europe Day 34: Lousy Personalities

I have a lousy personality. Absolutely lousy. I need constant change with a sprinkle of

Piazza D'Vittoria in Goriza, Italy

Piazza D’Vittoria in Goriza, Italy

stability in between. I’ve been like this for years, if not my whole life.

You’d think the kind of trip I’m on would be perfect for said lousy personality. It is. Except that I woke up this morning thinking, “I’m so tired of the same routine EVERY SINGLE DAY!” I heard myself think that and immediately realized what an utterly ridiculous thing it was to think. Every single day I get to see new places and visit new towns. Yet there is a real element of routine in my trip. I wake up, get dressed, get all my stuff packed, eat breakfast, run off as early as humanly possible, cycle, cycle, cycle, arrive, look for a hotel or a camp, shower, find food, relax or walk around town, write my daily travelblog, eat more food, and settle down to sleep. That’s what every single day is like. Exactly. Without fault.

I suppose it’s a good thing I’m starting to feel this way. It might mean I’ll eventually be looking forward to going home. I caught myself briefly wishing one night that I was sitting in bed watching TV at home with my husband rather than being on my own in a hotel somewhere.

It also means I’m getting over my initial anxieties. (more…)