When I met Mira, Ladka and Hermina on the Camino de Santiago in 2013, I had no idea that we would be friends for a long time and three years later I would visit their country of Slovenia. I invited them to Canada but they couldn’t make it, so they invited me to their country and I’m one to see new places with great friends. So bring it on! Four countries in two weeks. Landing in Austria, travelling to Slovenia and Croatia and Italy and spending time with many old friends and new!
I left St. John’s on September 8 and flew across the Atlantic to London and on to Vienna. There were some funny incidents and I will share these with you now. I carried a small Heys suitcase and a tiny knapsack, as I was trying to travel light. I carried with me my ipad and my iphone6, but could have left the ipad home as my phone is my number one little computer.
I had a few worries leaving home. How do I get from Vienna to Maribor? Then Hermina found a Mr. Declan who would pick me up at terminal one and drive me for 20 euros. I thought that was a bargain and I took it. But where was the place to meet him? I could find terminal 1 but the board Hermina mentioned was no where to be found. Oh, my! I had a three hour wait which is very tiresome after taking two flights already. The terminal had a few benches to sit on, but they seemed to be reserved. It was a hot day so standing outside was uncomfortable and not being able to find the sign was disconcerting. I knew the taxi was a big black newish car, so when I saw the first black car, I asked but the man was annoyed and didn’t even answer. The second black car had a driver who was eating his sandwich and didn’t seem to be looking for a Canadian woman!!! But I was looking for him. I asked if he was waiting for a Canadian woman. My friends Judith or Donna would have a good laugh at that! The man kept on eating and shook his head. But he didn’t know my pigheadedness! I asked if he was going to Maribor and he nodded yes and produced a sheet with the names of all his passengers, and there was Hermina’s name! That’s me, I said. All of a sudden I had become Hermina. My second worry was that What if I have to use the washroom during that two hour drive? We had a two hour wait for the other six passengers! And Mr. Declan could speak not a word of English and I could speak no Slovene!
With the very tight driving and manoevering through the busy streets of Vienna, I was feeling quite anxious and tired. I was freezing with the air conditioning and wishing someone else was cold too. I was offered gum by the driver and to calm my nerves, I chewed to beat the band. When we got close to Maribor the driver stopped at a small store and I hoped to use a washroom but none was visible. I bought some wine and got back into my front seat, hoping I could make it before I made a fool of myself by wetting the new seat.
I got a little worried as I thought the driver was dropping us off at our destination at various addresses, but no, it was a bus stop. I didn`t have a chance to worry too much as a tiny lady was running towards me and I thought it was Ladka. But as I tend to do, I got the names mixed up and it was Hermina. I had them confused in my mind. Ladka was the mountain climber who had 300 euros stolen on the camino. Hermina was the lady who lived alone and was a tiny little woman who was very friendly and accommodating. Mira was the retired nurse. I was elated when I saw Hermina`s face! Was I glad to finally arrive at Maribor and use a washroom at last.
I was welcomed by this small lady and given her huge bedroom with a view of the city and the biggest meal I`d ever eaten! I couldn`t consume it all but I put a good dent in it. I was so happy to start the two weeks in this wonderful country, the land of 100 castles and 265 churches. It was the best holiday ever, with each day and meal planned by my three friends. I visited four countries and stayed in a resort town for four days , and viewed Triglav, the highest mountain in Slovenia. I saw the salt flats, the wonderful cities of Piran and Pontorose and many other places. I walked around Lake Bled and Bohinj, visited a Dahli display, got tours of many ancient cities, stayed in an apartment in Croatia and swam in the Adriatic Sea, picked mushrooms on a mountain, visited caves and castles. I attend opera and ballet, tickets provided by friends of my friends. I will fill in much more detail in future posts. But all in all it was a wonderful holiday with the best of friends.