October 27, 2005 GMT

As initially mentioned I was curious about the myth saying that you can not drive through Eastern Europe without being mugged by thugs and harassed by authorities. Well, by now I had driven 6000km without being mugged, stopped by police, or paying any bribe. Border patrols had been friendly and efficient. My confidence was on top. Then a few kilometres into Slovenia I was speeding twenty above legal through a village, when a uniformed man blocked the road before me.

Soca valley

As I came closer I realised he signalled for me to slow down, then waving me by with a smile, as if in a hello and good luck in Slovenia. He was right. I signalled back a thank you, and thereafter I was law obedient all the way to Austria in gratitude to that welcoming police officer. So, in my opinion the generalisation of Eastern Europe as notoriously criminal is dead wrong. Then again, you can hardly call Slovenia a typical eastern country. It had a far more western feel to it than the previous seven. In fact, it has the benefits of most western countries, with an above average of entertaining roads for biking, plus the benefit that the budget will last twice as long as if in e.g. Austria or Switzerland. Slovenia should be on every biker’s wish list.

Ljubljana was situated in the bed of a crater. The narrow streets and the three miniature bridges in the city centre made it seem more like a village that a capital. A few hours were spent strolling around, and then the course was set to Bled, a holiday resort further north where I had a swim in the lake and a night on the town with some backpackers. As with many other backpackers from the U.S., they had sawn Canadian flags on their rucksacks to avoid being targets for unfriendly comments or forced into discussions about politics. The following day they planned to trek the surrounding mountains, and I gave them my “rescue food”, two bags of delicious Real Expedition Food. I thought my stomach did not need to be rescued anymore. But I deeply regretted it two days later when my Visa card malfunctioned and I had to wait in starvation for cash to arrive. So, NEVER give your bags of Real Expedition Food away!

These boys ran away with my food

The prime target in Slovenia was the Soca Valley. I sat down by the river, reading Ernest Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms”, a novel inspired by the authors own experiences as a solider in the area during World War I. It was strange being in such beautiful place thinking about the bloodsheds that had taken place on the same soil. And of course, it was Hemingway’s experiences right there that made him the legendary writer he became. The Soca and Bled area is also referred to as the Julian Alps, and you’ll find outstanding zigzag roads up and down the mountains, just the kind that most bikers like. After investigating these for a few days I went for the Austrian border. East Europe was history, and I was on my way home.

No, this is not Audun Raudes gate in Harstad

Posted by Erik Saue at October 27, 2005 12:00 PM GMT

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