We woke up again in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This time refreshed because after our all-day hike the day before, we slept very well. After two mornings at Nina’s apartment, I was able to make coffee Turkish style, which is unfamiliar (I learned watching Manja), and also the glasstop stove is so modern that it has minimal touch controls and it was a puzzle understanding them. The morning before, I had figured out how to turn a burner on, but at first only how to turn it on “high” and not how to turn it off. In the meantime, boiled coffee all over the place and made a huge mess. Anyway, the point is, this morning we had coffee.
We also had leftover pizza from the night before, and I cut up the prickly pear fruit we had brought from Capalbio Scalo that was now ready to eat. I’ve never picked and prepared one before, and naively grabbed the fruit with my bare hands. About the time I was done peeling and cutting, I realized it had been covered in fine thorns. The fruit had transferred them to my fingers, and I spent the rest of the day sucking my fingers and unsuccessfully trying to get the thorns out.
So there it was: breakfast and coffee and we were off to a great start to the day. It would be another road trip. Nina came to the apartment with Manja and Marco to pick up the keys. We first walked over to a nearby café to have coffee. It was nice to see Ljubljana in the daylight finally. We said our goodbyes to Nina and off we went. Pedro and I did watch the city as we left, and so we at least got a good look at it. In the backseat with the bestia, Manja gave us parting gifts. First of all, to make sure we didn’t get the wrong idea about Slovenian wines due to our catastrophic wine choice at a market two nights earlier, she had purchased a proper bottle of wine for us. She also provided snacks, and of course, an avocado. Because as we all now know, Crystal and Pedro must have avocados when travelling. We laughed and hugged and said our goodbyes because we would be leaving each other soon.
We were stopped at an intersection for a while, which allowed us all to marvel at this vehicle. Clearly belonging to no actual military, its owner obviously wished it did. I looked it up, and sure enough, it appears to be a Slovenian-based one-man wilderness survival training camp. We laughed at “Survival From Nature,” and joked about how these people are afraid of nature, convinced nature is coming after them and preparation is necessary.
Our hosts would be carrying us to Venice, Italy, before continuing to their home. We enjoyed the highway scenery as we went, the villages and churches on the hills around us.
The approach to Venice is a bit chaotic, because cars are not allowed on the island, except for 3 big parking garages right at the end of the bridge. We did not want the parking garages, and I assumed there must be a place to drop people off. We couldn’t be the only folks in Italy who had friends who could give us a ride. But I was wrong. We didn’t find a place to stop, and the road automatically made a U-turn and forced Marco to begin heading toward the mainland again. He deftly pulled the car up onto the sidewalk on the side of the road (right in front of some carabinieri having a smoke break), and we jumped out, grabbed our luggage, and called goodbyes.
For the first time on our trip, we were on our own, and it was SO exciting! We had prepared our luggage for Venice most of all. We knew no ground vehicles of any kind were allowed, no scooters, no bicycles, nothing. We knew we would have to carry our luggage ourselves wherever we needed to go. So both of us brought only a backpack as luggage for the entire trip. Our Airbnb was almost on the opposite side of the island as the bridge, so we started hoofing it that direction.
We hurried, because it was hot and the luggage was heavy, but it was through a carnival of wonderful sights and sounds and canals and churches and narrow streets just begging us to explore. We took a couple of photos, but pushed through as fast as we could, smiling as wide as our faces could accommodate. My phone had not cooperated with cell service at all during the trip, but Pedro’s was working, and we used GPS to navigate. It worked much of the time, but when we were in the narrowest of streets, with four-story buildings rising on both sides – I called it a Canyon – when we were in a canyon, GPS lost us.
We could not find the apartment for some time, and circled and circled until we discovered that it is in a cul-de-sac off an alley off a street. We were so delighted to finally find it that when I reviewed the place I did not give any hints to future guests. I hope they will enjoy the adventure as much as we did. We had been circling through tiny streets paved in stone, across bridges over picturesque canals, and past the gorgeous Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli. In that environment, how could we be upset?
We loved our little apartment immediately, and shed our heavy luggage and changed clothes into something cooler. We wanted to toast ourselves and our adventure, and enjoy the first moment where we two lovers could be alone, with no one nearby who knew us, and no time on the clock when we needed to be somewhere to do something. Manja’s wine was right there, and we opened it. We laughed and relaxed and cooled off and wound down and told stories as we sat at the kitchen bar for a couple hours. It was so nice. I know that Venice was RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR DOOR, but we really needed this time.
It was about 3pm when we emerged, and began exploring.
One of our first stops was to find refreshment. We settled in and became aware of friends having coffee at the table next to us. There was an older man in a cowboy hat who I could tell at a glance was a character. He started talking loudly about Guadalajara, in the way that people do to get someone’s attention. I glanced over and the man’s friend asked me in English if we were from Mexico. I said Pedro was. That’s all it took for Pedro to be adopted as a friend. The man is Giulio Agabiti, and he speaks no English but was dying to talk with someone in Spanish.
They chatted together for awhile, and Giulio happily told us about his fiancée in Mexico who he was going to see soon. He pulled up photos on his phone. Later, when we left the café, we spotted him at his art stand, and he was mid-face-time with his lady. He handed the phone to Pedro and asked him to chat with her. It was adorable.
In our earlier wanderings, a man in an apron had called to us as we passed, asking if we wanted to have dinner at Vecia Cavana. At the time we weren’t ready, but we sort of remembered where it was and wandered around, zigging and zagging through the canyons till we walked past it again. The waiter was Arab and called to us affectionately in Arabic and we sat down and had an absolutely splendid dinner.
After dinner we went to the grocery across the street and found breakfast food for the next day, and another bottle of wine of course, and then somehow wound our way through the maze, found the Pantalone Apartment again, and went to sleep. Ah, but did anyone note the open windows beside the front door of the apartment? We did not. We also did not realize the open air was allowing mosquito migrations to choose our apartment as a feeding ground. They rejected me, and I woke with only three or four non-bothersome bites. It was warm overnight and we slept with no covers. In the morning, Pedro was covered head to foot with red welts and was miserable and itching for a couple days.