We had an amazing breakfast at our hotel with multitudinous choices. Our guide Jelena did a quick explanation of the app “Ride with GPS” and got several more people using it. It was helpful to me to learn how to mount it on the bike in portrait mode instead of landscape.
The primary feature of the topo map was downhill on a former railroad bed that has been converted to a famous bike path. The scenery was absolutely beautiful riding through the mountain valley with the river below and old railroad stations every few miles that have been converted into cafe’s full of people enjoying a coffee or a beer. The weather turned out much better than predicted.
We had another fall with a rider pulling out his camera while riding to take a picture and then pulling too hard on his front brake to slow down for the person in front of him. Luckily he wasn’t going very fast.
The bike path was very busy in spots and there must have been ten other groups like us doing a ride on the trail plus lots of locals out for a ride on a nice day. We had one glitch were there was some new construction and the detour sign was not clear on how to get around the completely blocked road. But we made it! We saw wonderful views of the mountains, waterfalls, bridges, and tunnels. There must have been 20+ tunnels. Some short some long and some in between. The long ones were dimly lighted. Our tour group furnished us with front and back lights for better visibility for us to see and for other bikers to see us.
Lunch was a picnic that our guides (and Patti) prepared for us at a cute park by the river. It was also the end of our 27 mile ride today. They loaded the bikes on a trailer behind the van and took everything back to the hotel. We then took a bigger bus to Venzone which was destroyed by and earthquake in the 70s and they completely rebuilt it. We were treated to some pastries and gelato at one of the shops in Venzone by our tour group and then we had some time to walk around the town. There were pictures of before the earthquake, right after the earthquake and after the restoration. They strived to make it as much like the original. They did an excellent job.
We then shuttled back to the hotel for showers and street clothes and then they treated us to a wine tasting at a local wine bar. Johnny regaled us with stories about the wine and local attractions and we tasted two whites and a red paired with local appetizers. We then were free to have dinner on our own.
Tomorrow we change hotels and will spend 2 days in Slovenia – the Hotel is in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia – but we mostly ride there ourselves tomorrow.
Today started with another wonderful breakfast at Hotel Allegra. We gathered at 10:00am in the lobby dressed to ride and took our luggage to a nearby bus that took us to Valbruno, IT. The ride was about an hour an a half from Ljubjana. The terrain started out flat but within a few minutes we could see the Alps ahead of us. Quickly we were surrounded by mountains and driving in various valleys to get to our destination. We had an excellent lunch and then started getting our bikes ready. We met our two tour guides from VBT, Damjan and Jelena. Damjan met us at the hotel and rode in the bus with us to the start. He gave us lots of history of the area on the way and got some info from us and laid out what to expect from todays ride and events. Jelena had been working at the start getting everything ready for us helmets, pedals, bikes, and all the other things needed for the ride. We have 3 types of bikes, road, hybrid, and electric. The setup and instructions for each was different. The bikes are all of excellent quality and well maintained.
We had a choice on the warmup ride of either 12 or 6 miles. If we turned left from the start we would go uphill for 3 miles and then come back down by the start. Most of us chose to do that, but some did U-turns when they felt like it. Then we headed for Tarvisio but on the way was a gondola ride up to one of the ski runs in the area. It was as long as any I have ridden in Colorado.
After that we headed again for Tarvisio. Some of us managed to extend the ride beyond its designed distance – but that is another story. We were surprised that there were no odometers on most of the bikes. VBT expects us to use a smart phone app called Ride with GPS and they sent us detailed maps for the app. Not all of us completely got the app running correctly and we will have a lesson tomorrow in how to use it.
We all eventually arrived at the Hotel Edelhof, checked in, showered, and met for cocktails for an introduction for all of us riders and leaders. (more on that tomorrow) and then we got a demonstration of “how to make pasta the Italian way” from the hotel chef/owner (it was excellent by the way – but I won’t reveal any of his secrets). and then we all went to a wonderful dinner with lots of choices and good wine.
Tomorrow we ride from Tarvisio to Venzone with some shuttling involved and then we shuttle back to Tarvisio.
The weather was wonderful today – bright and sunny and warm. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.
Another hearty breakfast but no bike riding for John, Ingrid, Gary, Terry and Rick S. We met in the Lobby of the Allegra Hotel at 9:30am to walk up to the Castle that towers over us from nearly any place in the old town area of Ljubljana. Ingrid had gotten a text from Janelle suggesting that we get a dinner reservation for tonight for the Sabjza Restaurant near the Allegra. I tried to do that but the reservation website was down for maintenance and I couldn’t get a call through to make a reservation and they didn’t open until noon. So I waited. We made the climb to the Castle and explored the grounds a bit. We climbed the one high tower to be able to see and take pictures of the places we had walked the day before and see the hotel where we are staying. There are several restaurants on the castle grounds and we explored some of them. There were school age kids running around everywhere in some kind of competition. When they ran up the hill to the castle – it was very impressive. The path was fairly steep.
After exploring the castle – we walked to the open air market in Old town and surveyed the wares available in the numerous booths. I went back to the hotel and then the Sabjza to make a reservation at 7 for 13 people since Rick H and Janelle were arriving at 6:00pm. I made the reservation at 7 and then they called back and changed the reservation to 6:00pm. Rick S found a Sales person selling tickets to the River cruise and negotiated a much better price including drinks – so we said we would be back. we walked back to the hotel freshened up and went to lunch at Marley and Me. We all sampled various local cuisines and enjoyed it all!
After lunch we walked down to the river, paid our fees, and hopped on the boat. 45 minutes later after an enjoyable ride and lots of pictures taken we finished the boat ride and headed out on various errands since our bike ride starts tomorrow.
Patti and Robin arrived while we were on our boat ride.
We gathered in the Lobby at 5:50pm for the 4 minute walk to Sabjza and Rick H and Janelle arrives while we were waiting. they checked in and joined us at the restaurant. We were out on their back patio which was very nice – I think people were happy with Janelle’s proposal to go there. After sampling some Cherry Liqueur in the Lobby we headed for bed before the big day tomorrow. Tomorrow we meet our VBT tour guides for the first time in the lobby, We will drive to Italy (not that far way) to the town of Valbruno, have lunch and do a warm-up ride for 6 to 12 miles. We will stay the next 2 nights at the Hotel Edelhof in Tarviso, Italy.
I am having trouble posting pictures here. I like to default my phone to “Live” pictures but Word Press cannot handle that picture type (still picture with 3 seconds of Video). They can be converted to the right format but it is a royal pain to do it. So stay tuned – I may get some pictures posted soon. In the meantime if you have FaceBook you can see them on Janet Thomson Switzer or Ken Switzer.
Update from Day 1:
Everything worked out as planned. We checked out of the hotel at 5:00pm, Had a great evening meal in the airport using our meal vouchers from Austrian Airlines (because of the cancelled flight) and flew on time to Ljubljana. We arrived on time at 10:00pm. A van set up by VBT (Vermont Bike Tours) picked us (John, Ingrid, Janet and Ken as well as Dick and JoAnn who flew in from Zurich) up at the airport and drove us to our hotels. We arrived almost 12 hours after we had planned because of the flight cancellation. We checked into a quaint vintage hotel in the pedestrian area of old town Ljubljana and had a great nights sleep.
We has a great breakfast at our Hotel Allegro. As part of our “pre-package” from VBT we had a walking tour of the old town Ljubljana with our guide Ida at 9:30 today. She was a fount of knowledge in history of the area, the buildings, the architecture and architects and we spent an hour an a half learning about the town and its history. Rick S. arrived just as we were going to lunch – so he joined us. We had lunch at one of Ida’s recommendations and then went back and visited in more depth some of the places we saw on the walking tour including a geloto place, a wood carving place, a bank, a pharmacy, a sausage place, and a chocolate place. A great afternoon of exploring. Gary and Terry joined us in the pm and we went for drinks at a nearby outdoor bar. Gary and Terry had walked up to the Castle above the city after they arrived. The rest of us are planning to go up there tomorrow. We decided to go to a nearby steak restaurant called Sorboara for dinner. We were seated outside and after lots of debate about ordering – we decided to go family style and had a sampling of several different steaks from around the world for dinner because they even though they sold the steak by the ounce they had had pretty high minimum weights and that moved us in that direction. The steak and the wine were delicious. Tomorrow (Thursday) we do more touring of the area and the rest of our group should arrive and we will start our bike ride on Friday and set up our bikes for riding … … …
Yesterday we flew from Denver to Chicago, and Chicago to Vienna uneventfully. However when we arrived in Vienna we discovered that our final flight from Vienna to Ljubljana was cancelled. We got rebooked on a later (almost 12 hours) flight and after some debate (we had been up for 24 hours at this point) ended up booking a short stay (afternoon) at the nH hotel at the Vienna airport. We got some sleep, a quick shower, were able to brush our teeth (even with no luggage) and will have a nice meal and arrive very late at our hotel in Ljubljana. (or so we hope)