I started my morning at a campsite near Plivitce Lakes in Croatia, heading in the direction of Slovenia. With my bus ticket screenshot, a rental car booked, the map of Slovenia downloaded and a hostel reservation for the night, I was ready to go.
First leg of that journey was easy enough, hitching with some Spaniards to the bus stop. Dropped and patiently waiting for my bus, I started to get antsy when it ran a few hours behind. With the possibility of missing my connecting bus, Flixbus kept tabs on my driver and rushed me through the Zagreb terminal to my second bus of the day. Relaxing into my seat I crossed borders and got off in Ljubljana. A train to the rental office, and I was on my way driving a stick shift for the first time in 19 years.
I was eager to get off the busy streets and into the countryside, the less drivers the better. A few stalls in the city and I was finally getting the hang of it. Heading south, the landscape shifted into hilly, narrow, tree lined roads. The trade-off for city traffic was sharing the road with a number of enthusiastic cyclists powering up steep inclines and flying down the sharp turns. I wish I could have appreciated the landscapes but I spent most of my time riding the clutch and brakes with overworked sweat glands, a stressed out runny nose and my hands cramped from my fierce grip of the steering wheel. Involuntary man-slaughter was not on the cards.
If the stress of driving was not enough, navigating also became an issue. My offline maps didn’t seem to work properly (user error) so I just prayed I was heading South. With the reservation for a hostel, made and paid, not far from my earlier Croatian border crossing, I was anxious to arrive hoping I wouldn’t have to spend the night in the car. With no directions and no map, I must have stopped 4 or 5 times interpreting and translating instructions. This had become one of “those” days.
10 hours after my morning departure with shaky hands and fragile nerves I arrived at the converted schoolhouse in Nova Vas. With a large language barrier the owners picked up on my jumpiness, took my bag up to my room and gently guided me to the garden for sunset. They left me with a bottle of red, a few loose cigarettes, and a box of chocolate biscuits. I love how these few things universally brings comfort to all.