180507-The Day Off My Bicycle

Late last night I signed up for the hostel breakfast, afterwards realizing they stopped serving at 8:30 am. So much for lounging about in the morning. I did have the hostel room to myself, both a plus and a minus (peace and quiet vs. someone to talk to).

I asked this morning at the front desk about how to get to Predjama Castle without cycling there. The host didn’t know, but suggested I ask at the Postojnka caves. I walked 1 km to the caves, and bought a combined ticket for the caves and castle; they specifically warned I’d have to get to the castle on my own.

Entering the caverns everyone boarded a tram, and we whisked off underground. I was quite disappointed. We were travelling at speed, fast enough to not take pictures or even have time to appreciate the caverns. Everything felt more like a Disney theme park ride. Then the tram stopped and everyone got off. Things improved much after that. Still expensive, but for the longest cave system open to tourists in Europe? OK. I spent a lot of the day wondering if my speliological friend Ken had ever been to Slovenia. He wouldn’t be intersted in all the touristy stuff, but both caverns have offered advanced tours, and enough caves exist in Slovenia that there must be a large amateur community.

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I debated walking the 10 km from there to Castle Predjama, but instead walked back into town to ask at tourist information if there was another way. They suggested either a taxi (which would wait for me) for 30 euro, or renting a bicycle. OK, fine. I walked back to the hostel, grabbing lunch along the way. I grabbed my camera and lock, and cycled out.

Leaving town, a sign indicated 9 km to the castle. Another kilometer down the road, another sign indicated 9km. Yet another kilometer down the road, another identical sign. They need to spend a bit more on signs. 3 km down the road, I realized I’d left my toolkit. Unlike my friend Sam, whose tires go flat sometimes faster than he can repair them, I only have flats every few thousand km. 5 km down the road I realized I’d left my combined ticket back at the hostel. *Sigh*. I decided I’d rather go forward than add another 10 km, as the road combined a lot of down with up. As I passed a sign indicating only 1.5 km remained, my rear tire went flat.

Hmm, well it had been a few thousand kilometers since my last flat. No much I could do about it but walk forward to the castle. I still had time to both view the castle, and walk back at 5 kph, and perhaps something would work itself out.

At Predjama Castle a desperate check for my combined ticket found instead the credit card receipt. The attendant kindly accepted that in lieu of the ticket. Predjama Castle, built into a cave, includes a secret passage through the caverns that they used to resupply when under siege. They’d even deliver fresh fruit to those who had them under siege to mock their beseigers.

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No cars in the parking lot looked like obvious candidates for good samaritans, so I began the walk back to the hostel, sticking out my thumb whenever a vehicle passed by. I’ve stopped to help many cyclists, and Andrew had someone stop, take him back to their home, and fix the tire for him. The one cyclist that passed me stopped to ask if I was OK, but he had only a pump. I’d tried that and the tire deflated in seconds. He shrugged and cycled away. My kharmic debt apparently not yet in my favor, I finished the walk to the hostel a couple of hours from when I left the castle. Well, I’d not wanted to cycle 20 km today.

Returning to the hostel I pulled out my toolkit and repaired the rear tire. Given that the tube had separated at the seam, and there are at least two bicycle shops in town, I tossed the old tube and replaced it with a new one.

Tomorrow I’ll get to the things I meant to do today – groceries and the aforementioned bicycle shop. I think my new rear wheel has gone slightly out of true. To be expected, as the spokes adjust. Tomorrow to Lubljanja, and then, well, I don’t know.

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