Monday, June 2, 2014

From Ankaran to Piran

June 2nd – Today is our last day of biking. I have mixed emotions as it has been such a great experience, but I am also ready to try some new adventures. We began biking from Vila Andor, through Ankaran, and near a tidal marsh. There was a birding trail and a couple of good bird blinds. We saw coot, mute swans, egrets, and an unidentified sparrow that had the wildest song.

Bird blind at the tidal marsh 
We cruised happily along a bike path near the coast, then up and over a hill via an old narrow gauge train track that had been turned into a nice cycling path, and then back along the coast. It was easy to cruise a relaxing 20-25 km/hour and enjoy the ocean breezes.

We took a short detour south of Piran (almost to Croatia!) to see some famous salt beds. We biked along the canals and salt flats and went to an exhibit that explained this ancient method of producing salt. Without the money from tourism, it would not be economic to maintain these salt ponds and continue to harvest the salt. It was very interesting.

Salt ponds near Piran

We headed back to Piran and entered the old city. Our hotel, The Giuseppe Tartino, is named after a musician and there is music-related art all over the hotel. The hotel is right off the main square of the old town and this is the view from our patio.

Harbor in old Piran, view from our balcony 
We walked around old Piran, including up to the old city walls, and were able to look back and get a photo of the point where the town is situated.

The church doubles as the lighthouse at the end of the point
Of course, my favorite place is always the harbor and the boats! This is taken looking down from a rooftop patio of our hotel.

Colorful boats in the old harbor
And this next photo is taken from the same place, looking at our balcony on left, and the narrow street to the side of it.

Scenic balcony for our last night in Slovenia
 We had a great dinner near the shore to cap off our final night in Slovenia! It has been a delightful experience bicycling from the Alps to the coast - and along most of the length of the 45 km (31 mile) coast between Italy and Croatia.

Sea bass for Darrell!

From Kodreti to Divača to Ankaran

May 31st – Today was an uphill and downhill day with winds coming at us no matter which way we turned! We began by biking to Stanjel where there is another castle on a hill.

Stanjel with the requisite castle on the hill!

Biking along we pass a lot of World War I and especially WWII Memorials. This one had a single pine tree topped by the Slovenian and European Union flags. We're still waiting for someone to explain the symbolism and history of these trees to us!

Darrell at WWII Memorial with Tree
We found ourselves in the red soil country that creates a special wine called Teran that our hostess last night had told us about. You can see the soil really is red!

Red soil of karst region with grapes for Teran wine
Near the end of our day, we came to the Lipica Horse Stud Farm. This is where the world famous
Lipizzaner horses have been bred since 1580. We didn’t take the tour of the farm but biked along the white split rail fences and saw some of the renowned white horses in the pasture.

Lipinzzaner Horses at Lipica Farms
As we approached Divača we saw a large sinkhole but didn’t take the time to walk around it. The pattern we’ve been having lately is nice mornings and then the clouds build up in the afternoon and it rains. We have been lucky in making it to our rooms before the sky lets loose!

June 1st – Today was our fastest day of biking yet because we were leaving the hill country and heading to the coast. We had some beautiful long hills to cruise down. We crossed the border into Italy and were only a few km away from Trieste, before we turned south and reentered Slovenia!

Entering Slovenia after a short trip through Italy
I haven't been biking in a skirt (photo above) but this is a skirt - so I flip the skirt part inside the shorts while I'm biking and then I can pull it out when we go to a restaurant, hotel or museum!

We had a picnic lunch beside the Adriatic and then got to our quaint hotel at Vila Andor. Only one day left in our trip!

Darrell with our bike bags at the charming Vila Andor