6 In

Day Thirteen: Zagorsga Sela, Croatia to Pišece, Slovenia

(Guide says 18.1 km – 11.3 miles, and we walked 20.2 km – 12.6 miles)

We start off early, after an enjoyable breakfast and stay with Inma and her husband, Aljosa. Our dinner last night was another incredible experience. Smoked meats that are made via community cooperative, and another stew that I can’t even find the words to explain. It wasn’t a goulash, but tasted like the result of the freshest vegetable minestrone soup married to delectable smoked meats. There’s all the flavors of the just picked vegetables swimming in a tangy tomato base, paired with the earthy, smoky barbecued meat flavors. The fact that it’s made in Inma’s giant Spanish Terra Cotta Pot, only enhances the flavors, I’m certain. We went to bed with full tummies of absolute goodness and woke to a breakfast of the same.

Walking after eating fresh wholesome food, always energizes us. We’ve noticed a definite difference in our ability to walk and our energy levels based upon the type of fuel that has gone into our bodies. Even if we couldn’t taste the difference, which we always can, the accommodations that just feed us ‘filler foods’ which are always high in carbs and low in nutrition, have rendered us feeling lethargic the entire next day. We’ve grown to appreciate the people who feed us with love, as they would their own families.

Keeping to our plan of walking every step, we declined an early morning ride across the Slovenian border. The look on our hosts faces when we told them we were committed to walk it all, told us that it has somehow become common practice for walkers to skip this 6km section too. I’m honestly so confused by this. They listened carefully and then told us how dreadfully boring the walking is, much of it being on the road. They have not walked it, but have apparently heard this from the reports of other walkers. We took note and decided to keep this in mind as we walked along.

Getting an early start was very nice. The sky is always beautiful in the mornings, and it feels as if we have the entire world to ourselves sometimes. Even walking along the roadside is much more enjoyable as there aren’t many cars at all. We enjoyed the walk to the border with several beautiful views of churches high on hilltops, these just never get old, and farm animals running up to us eagerly expecting their breakfast. We did happen upon one rather noisy and interesting site that solved a bit of a mystery for us.

We’ve seen massive piles of wood, all split to perfection in each country we’ve walked through so far, but we’ve not seen anyone doing the splitting. It’s been a mystery to us how and when they do this. Now we know! They have these mechanical splitting machines that take only two seconds per log and make each piece uniform in size. We stood next to the road and watched a husband and wife split and incredible amount of wood in about five minutes. The weird thing was that he was standing completely still and his only job was to place the wood under the splitter just so. Meanwhile, his wife had to run back and forth from the main pile carrying each of the heavy logs to him and was constantly in motion. She was working her tail off and clearly had the worst part of the deal, but she was killing it! We continued to watch as we walked away to see if they ever switched jobs, thinking maybe he was just taking a little break from the hard part, but nope. Gary suggested that maybe he has a bad back or something that prevents him from doing the work, in an attempt to stand up for his fellow man. He’s always much kinder in his thoughts about these things than I am.

Now that I know they have these machines, I’m thinking that they must be quite expensive. I’m wondering if each family buys their own or if each village has one they share. It would make sense to share one, because it seems that you could split all the wood you need for an entire year in about a day. This will be my next mystery to solve! 🙂

We make it to the Slovenian border quickly and it’s a very enjoyable walk. Without the slightest second look or a single question, we are allowed in and are on our way to find a cappuccino. I can see buildings in the distance and I just have a hunch that we are in luck here. We stray from the marked path and walk down a street which parallels the highway to find an open caffe bar and an incredibly nice market! Jackpot! We stop quickly for a juice and cappuccino and then into the market to buy some lunch supplies. The bakery has a mouthwatering selection of breads with various cheeses baked in, that have us really excited about lunch later today. We have learned that the best way to ensure we have something that we like whenever we want, is to make it ourselves and carry it along. The hard part is finding nice markets along our route.

We buy our goods and then walk across the street to a little park to assemble our sandwiches. While here we notice bees flying around everywhere and then see bee boxes in several places. There have been many bee box trucks and stands out in the rural areas, but we are in the middle of a village, at a park with a children’s playground and there are bee boxes only feet away. We can also see that someone’s top floor patio is completely covered in bee boxes just across the way from here. This is something you would never see in the U.S. We’ve created such a fear around bees, and even the people who keep them must adhere to laws about minimum distances away from households and public areas, etc. I took two beekeeping courses from the University of Hawaii and was fully prepared to purchase my own hives and had swarm attractant ready to go, but found that the laws specified an amount of distance and space from any home, including my own, that just was not possible. Clearly it’s not the case here.

After spending far too much time marveling at the bees with children playing completely unafraid only feet away, we carried on. Suddenly our little pleasant morning stroll became a hot uphill climb. We walked up the longest, steepest hill that I think I’ve ever experienced. It was so long that we honestly forgot how long we had been walking up hill.

At one point we encountered a German Shepard that was chained, but very close to the route we had to pass, and so angry that it took some time to get passed him. We’ve encountered several dogs along the route, most chained or fenced, but several that haven’t been. I think this has been the angriest yet. If he were to get loose, he would take great pleasure in tearing us to bits. It’s during these moments that I’m very happy that I’m not walking the EPW alone.

After we pass by Kujo, we find ourselves continuing to climb uphill, but in the woods and it’s remarkably beautiful. We knew today was a long day again, with much steep uphill for the first half and then steep rolling hills for the second and we were worried about the heat. We decided to stop 15km short of Brežice, where we will board the train to Lake Bled, and walk the rest in the morning. This will make today an 18km walk instead of 33km. Again, we had to find our own accommodation to make this work, but it was easy to do using booking.com.

Once we enter the woods, the views become spectacular. We pass through a gorge and a large quarry and then come to an enormous, stunning crucifix set out in a peaceful remote area of the forest. From this point we are back on the road, but it is another winding country lane with hardly any traffic and spectacular views. We move slowly because every single sight is picture worthy. Through the peacefulness of the forest, we begin to hear the faint thumping bass sound of a night club. It continues for ages and gets louder and louder as we walk. Finally, we round a bend to find a small park with a tour bus parked and loads of people stopped having lunch with this awful music blaring through the hills. We expected to see a bunch of teenagers, but oddly, it’s mostly families and seniors. They are all picnicking and trying to talk to each other over the awful music. It’s the strangest thing.

We continue along and eventually the noise stops so that we can appreciate the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves again. The valley is far below us and the wind howls at times, but we don’t mind at all. It’s so much nicer than being hot. The views down and across the valley are picturesque and we find ourselves just mesmerized by how stunning it is. As we walk along on the side of the road, we start to talk about how beautiful the day has been and I glance down at something that catches my eye and see a giant snake, just inches from my feet. I squeal and Gary jumps about 10 feet straight up in the air.  

We then realize that there is a river running down below us and parallel to the road we are walking on which has numerous holes along both sides. The air is cool, but the sun is hot, and the snakes are all coming out to bask on the warm asphalt. As we walk along we can hear little rustles through the brush as each quickly slinks away to hide back inside their holes. Each time we hear it we both jump a little to the other side, and look to see how big they are, but continue to laugh about it. This literally has us zigzagging down the road which is fun and a bit exciting, but not very productive. With this in mind, and the fact that not one single car has come through in the past hour, we decide to just walk down the middle of the road.

Soon we find ourselves on gravel road again and walking through hills and valleys filled with vineyards. We happen upon a lovely little shrine and stop to eat our gourmet picnic at the top of a hill looking down across rolling hills covered in grapevines and, of course, a beautiful church on a hill.

After lunch, the red arrows direct us through the vineyard and we cheerfully walk along thinking about how near we are to the end of the day. We only have three kilometers left to the place we’ve chosen to stop and it has been such a pleasant day. About that time, a black and white puppy comes bounding toward me and playfully attacks my feet. I stop and play with him a little and then look around for his home which must be a lone house we passed quite some time ago. Gary immediately has his, “Not this again” face on as I turn to backtrack with the puppy.

In all the excitement, we’ve somehow lost the arrows, so he continues to move forward and look for them as I go the other direction to find the puppy’s house. The puppy thinks this must be some fantastic game and he sprints in his clumsy puppy way, the distance back and forth between Gary and I several times before he finally chooses to come with me. It only takes about ten minutes to find his home. I ring the bell and when the door opens, am met with a woman who is clearly not amused that I’ve disturbed her afternoon nap. She opens the door, snatches the puppy from my hands, makes a face as if to say, “Thanks but no thanks” and shuts the door solidly and then snaps the blind next to it closed for some added emphasis. I stand there thinking that she really doesn’t deserve the happy little guy at first, and then as I walk off I realize that maybe he is just what she needs.

I find Gary even further down the road looking a bit pissed off and I instantly know that we are lost. Suddenly my pleasant day and puppy bliss are gone too. We discuss what to do, we read through the directions time and again trying to find a clear idea of where we may currently be, but we can’t so there’s no way to pinpoint when and where we lost our way. Gary turns on Google Maps and it immediately maps a route so we decide to go with it. After about 30 minutes, it directs us down away from the road into a brushy field with no visible signs of a trail or path of any kind. Still, we go with it, because we really have nothing else to go on at this point. We climb through and beat the brush back for quite some time and it continues to get more and more dense before we can see a giant fence but nothing beyond that except for a huge bramble covered hill.

At this point I’m out, no brambles for me. I decide to walk up the fence row, on a path that looks like it was probably made by cows until I can find a way out. Eventually it works well enough to get us back to a paved road, and from that point we stick to the road and don’t even discuss leaving to follow any possible trails.

Along the way we encounter several places where red arrows are visibly contradicting each other.  There would be one on the ground pointing in one direction and one on the road railing next to it pointing in the opposite direction. Gary was absolutely flabbergasted and I was just too tired to care much. Google maps was finally getting us where we needed to go via the road, and being lost and climbing through brush has a way of just pissing me off and wearing me slam out.

Eventually we found our way to the tiny but adorable village of Pišece, Slovenia. The first thing we noticed was that everything was closed. It was Saturday at 4pm. We had anticipated arriving no later than noon. Nothing would be open tomorrow either, so this was a problem. We had rented an apartment for the night, but had no food to cook ourselves. We arrived at the apartment and found that no one was there to let us in. The directions said that there would be a key placed in a lock box but there wasn’t. We relaxed in the boiling sun just outside of the gate which contained a beautiful, empty, and pristine looking blue swimming pool that we could have been in at that very moment. After about 45 minutes there was a buzz and something we didn’t understand mumbled through a speaker and we were suddenly let into the building. A beautiful place that was completely deserted. This was getting kind of creepy.

We went to our apartment, and focused upon bathing and laundry first and decided to deal with food later. After some time, Gary found a Pizzaria online that was nearby. We called to see if they could deliver, and they said they could, then there was a whole long explanation to explain why they couldn’t today. And we were told that there are no taxi drivers in the area either. The Pizzeria was located a 30 minute walk away in the next village. I started unloading all we had to eat in our packs thinking we could just eat the few snacks we had left, along with the wine Steph had given us, and throw in a few gummy vitamins for good measure and then go to sleep. Gary was actually starving and ready to walk for pizza. I politely declined his invitation to go along, wished him well and asked him to bring me back a slice if it was good. He walked the 5km round trip while I laid in the bed with my feet up against the wall editing photos.

Gary returned with a pizza and some pasta about 90 minutes later. He was ridiculously sweaty and smelly again as if he had never even taken a shower or changed clothes, but he was happy to have food and so was I. We ate our takeout and drank some of Steph’s wine at about 11pm and it was a very nice meal to end our very, very long day. We feel asleep with our spirits pretty high as tomorrow’s walk is only 15km to the train station and then we will ride all the way to begin our luxurious rest days at Lake Bled!

Accommodation:

(Arranged via booking.com)

Villa Silva Marija Apartments

72 euro per night, no meals included (several restaurants and a market nearby, but all are closed on Sunday), no laundry (but plenty of room for hand washing and hanging), no bag transport

Some additional favorite photos from the day:

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Richard
    August 15, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Beautiful scenery in the pics….and the man probably had his wood splitter operator license and she didn’t 😂

    • Reply
      Bethany Eells Porter
      August 22, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      Hi Richard,
      You know, I never thought about that, but I love that you’re looking out for him! 🙂
      I’m glad you’re enjoying the photos! Thanks for the comment!

  • Reply
    sue
    August 15, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Fantastic photos, enjoy hearing of your walking. Tough no doubt but great.

    • Reply
      Bethany Eells Porter
      August 22, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Hi Sue,
      Thank you for the comment! This walk has definitely been long, but wonderful!
      I’m so happy that you’re along for the adventures! <3

  • Reply
    Kimberly Williamson
    August 29, 2017 at 5:24 am

    Bethany, the pictures are so beautiful, I can’t imagine what it’s like in real! I hope you are able to take in this beauty and enjoy it as you walk even though I know how hard the walk must be some days… You really do a GREAT job capturing some very special moments along the way, I’m glad you took the time to find that sweet puppy’s owner, even if she was less than nice about it! What a cutie it was! As always, keeping you in my prayers for Good health, Beautiful weather, and of course your safety! Much Love my friend…

    • Reply
      Bethany Eells Porter
      September 1, 2017 at 1:54 am

      Hi Kim,
      Thank you! I’m so glad that you are enjoying the posts and pictures!
      I did have a thought of how nice it would be to keep the little guy, but homeless with a puppy just wouldn’t work. 🙂
      Thank you for all the love you send my way. I really enjoy knowing that you are with me on this journey! <3

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