Slovenia and Croatia: Day 3 – The Kamnic Alps

Cycled Brezno to Solčava

Date: 18th May 2008

We woke early and did the final 20 or 30km to Dravograd by morning tea. We followed the main road along the river for the most part, but towards the end a sign sent bikes on a detour along some quieter roads. There were a couple of climbs along this route but they were short and no problem. The route along the river Drava between Maribor and Dravograd is quite beautiful and doesn’t have too much traffic.

In Dravograd we found a cafe that did terrific cakes, then continued along the river Meža (more of a creek) through Ravne na Koroskem, Prevalje, Mežica, and Črna. In Črna we had some pizza (the cheapest eating out of the trip at €3.50), then asked the locals about the road we had chosen to Solčava, and they said if we were in good condition we could make it. We thought they were implying it was reasonably easy, but it turned out to be the hardest part of the entire trip.

For the first few kilometres we followed a creek up a gentle climb, then we hit a very steep dirt road and a lot of rain. It was wet, cold, and very hard going up the slippery gravel. We even pushed the bikes for about half a kilometre. It took about 2 hours to go about 13km to the top of the pass. I think the climb was from around 500m to around 1400m. It was very beautiful, but, exhausted and cold in the rain, we didn’t have an opportunity to appreciate it (or take any photos). This was followed by a very steep downhill, which was just as hard because our exertion had been keeping us warm and now we froze. We finally made it Podolševa and hid from the rain under the eaves of a farmhouse.

When the rain settled we were given directions to a guest house, Majdač, a few kilometres away in Solčava. The woman there was incredibly helpful and for €40 we were given a bed, fed a wonderful dinner and breakfast, and all our clothes and shoes were dried. There was also a terrific view of the Kamnic alps which we had just crossed.

The view from the guest house

The view from the guest house

Slovenia and Croatia: Days 1 and 2 – The Drava River

Plane Tallinn to Vienna
Train Vienna to Maribor
Cycled Maribor to Brezno

Date: 16th and 17th May 2008

We had a bit of trouble packing the bikes for the plane because the bike boxes we’d managed to acquire weren’t big enough, but the flight was otherwise OK to Vienna. There we met a Canadian dude who, for a month long trip, had two small panniers and a handlebar bag. We felt a bit ashamed at the amount of gear we had. He had no wet weather gear (apparently the best way to assure good weather) and wasn’t intending on camping, though.

Vienna was an easy city for cycling about, and we did a bit of tourist work before going to bed in our rather comfortable hostel. The next day we caught the train to Maribor in Slovenia before starting to ride towards Dravograd. Getting the bike on the train in Vienna was easy – prepay, and the bike goes on.

We started cycling at around 2pm after grabbing some fruit from the fruit stand. It was an easy fairly flat ride up along the river Drava. Although it was uphill the incline wasn’t noticeable, and it’s a lovely river to ride along. The road had very little of a shoulder but the cars gave a wide berth and it was an easy ride. The only mishap was when Millerine braked suddenly to avoid running into a couple of chooks (yes, there were domestic chooks running across the road) and I ran up the back of her. I bent my front pannier rack but it was easy enough to bend back into shape.

There are no campsites in the area and with the steep river bank any useful campsite is hard to find. We ended up freecamping in the only comfortable spot we could find, which was in the town of Brezno beside the river.

Balkans day 2 audio update