– The adventures of a solo round the world cyclist –

Day 992 (Slovenia Day 5 / Italy Day 1)

It feels like the countdown/challenge to get to Paris in time to fly home for my sister’s wedding has really begun – I have crossed into Italy, which will be my second last country. Having to rush through idyllic Italian villages is obviously not ideal, but I can’t exactly miss the wedding. In an attempt to stay on track I have a target number of kilometres I want to ride each day. It’s going to be tight.

The world changed several times throughout the day. As I left Ljubljana it was freezing cold and everything was white/grey. Passing through the mountains between Logatec and Ajdovscina, I entered a winter wonderland with thick, fresh snow carpeting every surface. It was so pure and fresh that the crystalline surface sparkled magically. As if nature was celebrating with me, I had just reached the top of the highest climb when the sun punched through the clouds and the sky cleared, revealing a beautiful blue backdrop behind snow covered pines. The only sound was the soft flutter of snow falling from branches. The snow began to clear as I descended the other side of the mountain until I felt like I’d been absorbed by a warm spring day. The sun was bright, the sky was clear, the ground was a lush green and birds were flitting about. It wasn’t warm by any means though, reminding me I was still riding through the middle of a European winter. Such a scene accompanied me all the way to Nova Gorica, the Slovenian border town next to Italy.

I got a bit confused entering Italy. At first I picked a minor road to cross between the countries and all was going well until I realised I’d crossed into Italy without seeing any kind of border control. I backtracked into Slovenia and rode a couple of kilometres to the main road that connects the two countries. My map indicated there was police/military control here, so I assumed this was where I should cross. But alas, again I rode straight into Italy without anyone blinking an eyelid. As I turned around with a plan to hunt down some police in the station, common sense slowly began to sink in. I realised there is no way I’d be allowed to get into Italy without passing immigration control. I finally realised that there simply isn’t any border control at all. Welcome to the EU! It’s pretty incredible thing to think that people can just come and go as they please.

I rode into Gorizia and stopped when I happened to come across a bike shop. I checked my Maps.me app to see if I could find a mobile phone shop nearby. If the map didn’t help, I figured I could enquire at the bike shop, given that my bike would easily break the ice. As I was looking at my phone, a girl exited the shop, saying thank you and goodbye as she went. It was my first chance to hear someone talk and I couldn’t help thinking it was the most beautiful language I’ve ever heard.

There was no need to enter the shop as I found a phone store a couple of kilometres away. There, I easily achieved my goal of securing an Italian SIM card. It was quite expensive, but I really want one so I can stay on top of my Warmshower accommodation requests. I asked the guy helping me out where I might find cheap accommodation and he told me about a bed and breakfast in the city. I went there and waited outside until about 4.15pm (a sign indicated that the B&B should have opened at 4pm). I was pulled from my daydreaming by a rattle of keys as an old guy opened up the door. The man was probably in his seventies yet he wore fashionable skinny jeans. Yep, I’m definitely in Italy! Ten minutes later I was hauling my things up to a cute little room. I took some time to settle in and get my SIM card operational before heading out for an evening walk and to grab some dinner. I got a couple of slices of pizza and then visited a supermarket where I bought some fresh-made lasagne and a few other supplies. Having stuffed myself full, I am now preparing for bed and turning my thoughts to tomorrow’s ride.

Winter wonderland

Accommodation $ B&B
Distance ridden today 96.53km
Average cycling speed 16kph
Total distance ridden 28,647km

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