Our first job this morning was to find a bike shop and then we were off to explore the countryside around Maribor.
We replaced our front tyre in Grenoble, France 18,000 kilometres ago and now it just doesn’t have any tread depth left. We found a Honda shop on the outskirts of the city who had a tyre for us. They even talked us into letting them change the oil, a job I normally do on the side of the road. The Princess was soon jacked up on the bike hoist and we left them to it. We found a bar nearby for a coffee. As usual when you’re waiting for something it always takes longer than expected. We looked in all the shops nearby, then through all the shelves of the bike shop.
Eventually the bike was ready and I must admit after watching the mechanic at work I was pretty impressed. He did a top to bottom check and a complete lubrication including the shaft hub. He also told me a few items which may need work in the future. That included the rear tyre, which I’m trying to squeeze a few more thousand kilometres out of before replacing.
With new brakes and tyre we headed off into the Slovenian countryside for a ride. It’s quite interesting how unlike Croatia the country is. The buildings and towns all are very much like Austria in architecture and layout. Much of the land surrounding Maribor is large flat plains covered in fields of wheat, barley and young corn, with the occasional forest. In the distance the hills and mountains of the border region are easily visible.
We followed the Drava River all the way to Ptuj. Slovenia’s oldest and maybe prettiest city. Ptuj is situated on the Drava River with Ptuj Castle (Ptujski Grad) built on the highest point on the hill. In the 1st century BC, Ptuj was a roman city of 40,000 inhabitants and there’s still evidence of Roman occupation. Ptuj Castle was built high on the hill overlooking the city in the mid 12th century to defend against the Hungarians. Much of the cities architecture dates from the Austro-Hungarian empire. Although quite a pretty city, at this time of year it is still pretty sleepy. Trying to find a spot for lunch was quite hard, however not completely impossible.
After lunch we spent a few hours cruising the countryside before heading back to the Maribor.
Basilica of Our Mother of Mercy, Maribor
Back in the Maribor we visited the Basilica of Our Mother of Mercy, a fabulous red brick church in the city centre. Designed by the Viennese architect Richard Jordan and built at the turn of the 20th century, the twin red brick spires of the Basilica are seen throughout the city. The inside is beautifully ornate and well worth a visit,
Mestni Park, Maribor
As the early evening was quite mild we took a stroll towards the city’s Mestni Park. The walk from the city centre to the central city park took us through lovely houses dating from the Middle Ages through to the 19th century. Walking through the park the strains of French music floated through the air. The central rotunda had been transformed into an impromptu dance studio. As Charles Aznavour gently crooned dancers effortlessly twirled around the rotunda. With candles softly illuminating the scene, it was like stepping back in time. The buzz of mosquitos was the signal for us to head back to the hostel.
Tomorrow we intend to explore the northeast of Slovenia before heading to Ljubiljana.