We now had a week to kill before meeting up with our good friends from London, Andy and Rach, who were coming out to join us for a bit of cycling in the north around lake Bled. So we hatched a plan to wind our way up through the east of the country for a bit and meet them in the capital Ljubljana on Sunday.
We were in dire need of re-charging all our electronics and neither of us had had a hot shower since Sarajevo (2 weeks) so we had a look to see what warm showers hosts there might be on our route. There was one who instantly caught our eye – Noel Fitzpatrick. ‘He has to be Irish’ Paddy said, so we got in contact.
Noel was indeed originally from Ireland and him and his lovely wife Gilly (who is originally from the north of England), got back straight away and told us we were very welcome but they’d be away skiing until late. We were welcome to find their house, let ourselves in and help ourselves to a shower and the washing machine though. They also invited us to eat as many eggs from their chickens as we could and were told there were beers cooling in the fridge. Although we’ve become accustomed to this kind of unquestionable hospitality and trust, we still never take it for granted – here was a couple who were willing to leave a key for two complete strangers.
Gilly and Noel live in a very picturesque village called Drasici which is famous for it’s wine making. The village sits on a hilltop right on the Slovenia-Croatian border and the whole area is covered in grapevines. What’s interesting about Drasici is that the wine is made through a collective effort, with lots of families and farmers contributing their harvests to the central wine press which is situated in an old cellar near the village church. We had been instructed by Noel to find this church from where he’d given us directions to the house.
We parked up and started our search but we were soon accosted by a group of locals who were sitting outside the aforementioned wine cellar. They waved us down, offered us a seat and placed a glass of crisp, chilled white wine in each of our hands. A huge plate of local cheese and cured meats soon followed. It was a nice welcome!
We spent a lovely hour with this group of locals who were celebrating St Florian day – the patron saint of fire fighters. It’s customary for the women to take a day off on and let the men cook instead! The wine and the platter of cheese and meat were the fruits of their efforts!
Here are the group signing the traditional Drasici wine song.
This encounter meant we were settled at the house forless than half an hour before Gilly and Noel returned home themselves from skiing with their two kids. We couldnt have felt more welcomed and when we met they made us feel as if we were being greeted by longstanding friends.
The next few days were spent being part of the Fitzpatrick household. We had such a lovely time with the four of them, bashing out classic 90s rock songs and playing SuperMario cart with the kids, going for long rambling walks in the evenings and talking politics over dinner that we kept delaying our departure. It wasn’t until Thursday that we set off again.
May is an important celebratory month for Slovenia and for the duration of the month every village and town erects a huge May pole. These are different from the May poles we know. These are enormous pine trees, stripped of their bark and pine needles apart from a decorated Christmas tree-like bush at the top. As far as we know they don’t dance around them either.
The countryside has been lovely but I think we have the best of Slovenia still to come. We’ve heard the north is supposed to be beautiful. We easily find wild camping spots including a lovely one in this wooded area near a reservoir.
We easily reach Ljubljana and find the apartment we have booked with Andy and Rach.