Last night, the rain continued for a couple of hours. At one point I woke up and listened to the sound of precipitation, noting that the soft pit-pattering didn’t quite sound like rain drops. I touched the fly of my tent and felt an icy resistance. For a second I thought it was indeed ice, but a fluttering and splat told me that I had disturbed something else: snow! I sat up in a hurry and had a proper look. It was snowing! The temperature had obviously dropped low enough for the rain to be replaced with snow. I also had the good news that the inside of my tent was almost completely dry. A little dampness was creeping into the towel I’d placed under my sleeping mat, and the slightest dribble of water was continuing to seep through an air vent and soak onto a shirt I’d placed there for that very purpose, but besides that I was dry. I wasn’t totally warm though. My feet failed to warm up. As the night progressed the cold slowly crept up into my lower legs. As I continued to sleep on and off, I revelled in the idea that for the first time in my life I was truly camping in wintry conditions. I have developed the desire to camp in snow to see what it’s like and to test my limits a little more, and now finally it was happening. Of course, the time came for me to wake up properly and deal with a snowy pack up.

The snow continued to fall as I prepared my things and packed up my tent. With all the upper surfaces of my bicycle coated in a thick layer of the stuff, I simply brushed it away from where I would contact it (seat, handlebars, pedals, bag hooks) and loaded it as normal. With the outside off my tent saturated, I packed it into a dry bag, which I strapped to the outside of a rear pannier. I was pleased to find the road void of snow, so I didn’t face any complications riding. Except for my brakes. After a climb to the top of the pass, I once again faced a bit of a scary time descending down the other side with poor brakes made even poorer in the icy conditions. I loved looking down and seeing my bike still coated in snow as I rode. It was a couple of hours before it all melted away. It continued to snow for about 1.5 hours into the ride and I experienced the stinging sensation of copping snowflakes directly in the eye. As I descended from the pass, the snow and mist cleared and the world once again opened up into a snowy rural landscape. I was only graced with very light showers from then, so the day proved very pleasant. With limited lunch supplies of my own, I rode until I reached Trebnje, where I stopped at a delightful little bakery where I could warm up while eating some pastry delights.

Just as the sky was beginning to darken I found myself riding into Ljubljana. I decided to ride around for a while to soak up the atmosphere before working out where I was and where I would try to find a hostel. Attracted by a few bustling streets, I found myself at the Preseren Monument. It was here that I really got a shock at how busy the city was. Groups of walking tours gathered here and there, while hordes of people walked past, many on their way to the market stalls lining the Ljubljanica River, including one selling mulled wine. I walked my bike around for a while following my heart’s whims.

Eventually, I had to find myself a home. I checked out one hostel, only to discover the dorm rooms were full. I had about ten other potential homes marked on Maps.me, but one in particular pulled me and I wasn’t sure why. As I made my way there I got a very pleasant surprise. Having forgotten where I’d stayed seven years ago, I quickly realised that the hostel I was attracted to was the same one I’d stayed in before. Obviously my subconscious memories were doing the pulling. I enjoyed the fact that I could point out a shop and think, ‘Hey, that used to be a tattoo shop where I got my second tattoo’. And when I reached the hostel I knew I could look across the river and see a conveniently placed supermarket and ATM.

Fortunately, the hostel wasn’t full. The receptionist explained to me why the city is so busy – it was a Saturday and thousands of people come in for the weekend. I was given access to a garage where I could lock up my bike and hang up my soaking tent. Soon after settling into the room I was joined by a Slovenian guy who has been working in Haiti for the last three years. As I had a shower, he disappeared to the shops and returned with some wine and chips. We shared these as we chatted (well, mostly he chatted and I listened). Eventually it became time for dinner. I wandered out and had meals at two different places before joining the hordes in wandering the busy streets.

I felt quite lonely walking through Ljubljana tonight. The streets were overflowing and the bars and cafes were packed. Couples and groups of friends were taking selfies around every corner. Music poured out of venues. The outside skating rink was full. And wandering in between it all was me on my lonesome.  As I explored, I felt like I began to realise what a true winter holiday is like – a time of festive holiday cheer that is intricately linked with cold weather. Back at home it is the beaches that would be full of people trying to escape the heat. Here, I found myself wondering if the kids around me will look back on these times one day and cherish these moments where they rugged up like the Michelin man, got treated to junk food, walked gingerly across icy paths and zoomed around the outside skating rink.

Yep

Accommodation $ Backpacker Hostel
Distance ridden today 92.81km
Average cycling speed 15.2kph
Total distance ridden 28,551km