We left our house in Germany this morning at around 8:00 a.m. Once the dogs were settled in at the kennel, we hit the highway for Slovenia, expecting a six-hour travel day.
The German Autobahn is famous for high-speed driving. It’s traffic jams, which are called “Staus” in German, are nearly as prominent a characteristic, though not nearly so much fun to tell stories about. Instead of cruising along at 90 miles per hour leaving our little town this morning, we almost immediately hit a series of Staus that left us driving at an average pace of, oh….5 miles per hour or so.
The further we got from our house, the more time our Garmin, who we call Jill, added to our estimated travel time remaining. We start with about two hours to our first destination (the last Esso gas station in Germany), but within half an hour of driving, our estimated time to arrival had increased to two hours and forty minutes. Eventually, Jill rerouted us through a series of beautiful little towns on smaller, country roads. The views improved drastically, but the traffic? Not so much.
I snapped several pictures of the pretty countryside with my beat up, six year old old iPhone. I hope you can see past the picture quality and enjoy the feel of the German and Austrian countryside we drove through.
Sometimes getting rerouted adds value to the trip that can’t be measured by time spent traveling. Without Jill’s reroute, we’d never have seen this incredible old bi-wing airplane, and we’d certainly never have discovered this little Italian restaurant where we stopped for lunch. My meal was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had, including the meals I’ve eaten on our two trips to Italy.
Just before crossing the border into Austria, we stopped at a rest stop to buy Austrian and Slovenian vignettes. Vignettes are window stickers that show that you’ve paid, as someone driving out-of-country plates, to use the in-country highways. The two vignettes cost around €25, and we had to pay another €11 in Austrian tolls before arriving at our destination. It was totally worth it, though, because the views were fantastic.
I didn’t take any pictures, thanks to my tendency to get ridiculously carsick in traffic and/or mountain roads. We drove though Austrian Alpine passes and tunnels, and eventually crossed into Slovenia, where we drove up the steepest grade hill either of us can remember. At 18% grade, the hill seemed to climb into the sky. To add drama, parts of the road didn’t have a marked center line, even though they were wide enough for two lanes of traffic.
I can’t imagine driving such steep, narrow roads in the U.S. without a sturdy guardrail along the cliff-side of the road, but in Slovenia, all bets were off. I looked over (the cliff-side happened to be the passenger side of the car, where I was riding) only to realize that 1) the ravine beneath us was so deep that I couldn’t see the bottom of it, and 2) that the guard rail had no shortage of gaps along it. It was, without a doubt, among our most memorable European road trips.
We arrived at our guesthouse in Kranjska Gora, Touristica Kmetija Kosir, at around 4:45 p.m., just in time to unload the car and settle in for a picnic dinner in the guest house dining room. Venison, sliced cheese, crackers, and fruit were the name of the game, while Small Shaw ran circles around the dining room (we were the only guests around), burning off steam after so many hours in her carseat.
Our Slovenian getaway is off to a great start. Tomorrow, we hope to explore the area around Kranjska Gora, including a local lake, some walking trails, and local town!
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