VIENNA, BERLIN by BIKE  AND DITCH PARIS

I’m on a 5 week tour around Europe, by train, plane, automobile and eventually by bike.  I’m visiting fellow bike touring friends I’ve meet on my journeys.  I’ll be biking with them mostly, but some walking too (my favorite).

Direct  flights from Ljubljana tend to be neither direct nor cheap.  So I’m taking the bus from Ljubljana to Vienna and staying at the “SUPER CLEAN”  VIENNA CITY HOSTEL.  They had bed and breakfast for $20 and $10 a day bicycles.  So my $61 Germanwings airline ticket to  Berlin, wasn’t until 7:30 at night.   So I  rented a bike and rode around Vienna, I’ve been here before.  I don’t know what I was thinking? Vienna in a Day!?   No Way, it’s a big city.   The City Center was designated a UNESCO World heritage site in 2001.  In 2014 Vienna was recognized as the most liveable city in the world.  There’s almost 2 million peple living here.

I did some homework on Vienna and discovered they had an island on the river, like Prauge.

 So I rented my bike and headed in that direction.

I knew when I saw this sign it was a good city.  Eating meat has a high C02 emmissions footprint they say 51% of C02 is from raising animals to eat.

 

I love taking sign photos, more than taking nature pictures

                                                     ENJOY YOUR LIFE IT’S AWESOME 

 I rode by a huge theme park, they must have 4 big roller coasters.  I finally found the island, no commercial buildings, just one wind turbine.  Traveling in the off season has it’s benefits, it was almost my own island.

 

  I LOVE ALL THE HISTORY  & BUILDINGS OF EUROPE

                                                                                                    THIS IS A METRO TRAIN BRIDGE, NO CARS 

 I still think in balance, the bicycle takes you more places than walking could

I THINK I FOUND THE HEADSTONE FOR MY GRAVE.  AS I WAS TAKING THE PICTURE THE SALESMAN CAME RUNNING OUT TO “”HELP” ME..   I TOLD HIM I WASNT READY YET. 

 I refused to use my Iphone data, to find my way back to the hostel..  I knew I was close, but I’ve been riding a lot and I was beat..  I finally gave in and turned on the data roaming ($), I was only 1kkm from the hostel, close.  Back at the hostel I get a message from Mark,,  has to leave Berlin,  but can leave his apartment keys with a nieghbor.

  I figure out how to get to his apt.  His widows are dirty, so I clean them all insde and out.  All good travellers should show their appreciation for being hosted.

I make plans to visit the Tourism Trade Show that’s happening in Berlin.. I really wanted  to go so it worked good, I had something fun to do.

                  THE BEAURIFUL WOMEN OF SRI LANKA 

 The tourism show had  representatives from every country: Iran, Cuba, Russia & America  (set up next to each other).   I sstopped by the New Zealand booth and told them I’ve visited there country and loved it.  II told her she had an easy job “”trying”  to sell New Zealand.  Then I walked a little further and there was the Pakistan booth.  He  was trying to tell my that I should visit Pakistan.  I could hardly  keep a straight face,, OK tell me.  We have K2, 3 glaciers, ahh? NO.  First that sounds cold and second? I disapprove of the way they treat women and restrict girls education.   He said his village had a 94% literacy rate,, but he agreed with my general analysis of the situation in Pakistan.  I won’t be going to Pakistan any time soon..                      THE BEAUTIFUL WOMEN OF THE MALDIVES

        AFTER TODAY I FEEL LIKE THE KING (of travel) I went to nearly every country ((booth) around the world.

 Marc was still out of town so I get his bike and ride around Berlin.. It has a great network of bike lanes, except in the core of the tourist destinations.

  IF YOU USE A BIKE TO HOLD YOUR SIGN IS IT FREE? 

 In Portland they have a pedal beer tour, you drink while you pedal.  But I saw these in Berlin and had never seen them anywhere before.

IT’S GREAT SEEING PEOPLE TRY ALTERNATIVE TYPES OF TOURING 

Marc  and I bike toured together  20 years ago in  New Zealand..  I have visited him and his parents in  the former East Germany several times over the years.   Marc is back Sunday night,, so on Monday we decide to bike the “WALL TOUR”   

 

 

  THE FAMOUS CHECK POINT CHARLIE THAT SEPARATED EAST AND WEST GERMANY

 

 THE UNTOUCHED WALL 

                      WE PUT TOGETHER  MARCS FIRST TV,, EVER!!  LET’S JUST SAY IT’S BIG!

Back at the Berlin airport and your phone is low.

THESE ARE SELF-CHARGING PHONE  STATIONS, KEEP PEDALING IF YOU WANT TO SURF!?

When travelling I ssometimes look for music and art events that are going on.  Paris had David Bowies touring collection off outfits and other memorablia.  I saw David Bowie in 1973 and really wanted to go. So I bought a ticket oonline and thought I would go since I was in Paris early.  The train ticket to the exhibit was nearly $50 roundtrip, I threw the David Bowie ticket away.

I spent 2 weeks in France, that is why there hasn’t been a blog post in awhile.  FRANCES’S INTERNET IS THE WORST IN THE WORLD!! EVEN BURMA’S WAS BETTER.

I’m in Lisbon now, picking up Natasa Saturday, at the airport.  I visited 3 friends in France  and biked and hiked a lot.

THANKS FOR READING

JEFF

NEXT? A REAL FRENCH COUNNTRYSIDE VILLAGE, WITH BARELY A CAR IN SIGHT.

   

   

THE WEDDING CELEBRATION CONTINUES AND WE VISIT PTUJ (Slovenia’s oldest village)

Jeffs Bike Tour Blog Site blew up with the wedding news and photos.  I asked Natasa what we were going to follow up with?  But as the days roll on so do the opportunities to celebrate.  Natasa organized some food, drinks and desserts for an at work celebration of our wedding.

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IT WAS VALENTINES, BUT NATASA CLAIMS SHE DIDN’T ORDER THE MINI-CAKES WITH THE HEARTS (I have my doubts)

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4 TRAYS OF “BEAUTIFUL & DELICIOUS ” SANDWICHES. BY “DELI-LADY”, MARTINA

Natasa, the pharmacist,  is a super hard worker, I can’t keep up with her  and I’ve been self-employed nearly my entire life.

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POURING THE SPARKLING CIDER BEFORE THE WORK “PARTY”

The room quickly field up with doctors, nurses, dentist and all the support staff.  I was brought to tears, as they read us poems and congratulations (in Slovenian & English!)

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EVERYONE ONE WAS SUPER EXCITED FOR NATASA  AND FOR US TOO!

We met Nadja, a doctor at the clinic, at the farmers market and I gave her this blog address.  Well she read it and gave us this amazing handmade gift.

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THESE ARE THE RIVERS OF PORTLAND AND SKOFJA LOKA. THANKS SO MUCH NADJA, IT’S HANGING RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, WHILE SITTING AT MY DESK.

Janez (Natasa’s brother) went to school to be a photographer and he captured some great moments.

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We had an awesome wedding dinner, so I asked Natasa if we could walk home to help digest all the food?  She loves walking so that part was easy, except we get outside and her Dad wants us to walk in the opposite direction.  I insist we walk a certain direction, why?  I made reservations at the TURIZEM LOKA B & B  that was only 1 block from the restaurant   As we walked i turned her left and directed her up the driveway to our honeymoon suite.  Sara was waving to her mom, “goodnight Mom, have a nice night”, I was crying, she had no idea.  Everyone in the wedding party knew, except Natasa.  I had her favorite flowers delivered to the room with a card and framed sign that read:

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The B & B’s hot tub and sauna, was a nice way to relax after a hectic week and day.

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I  ASKED  NATASA I FOR A BARE HUG,  INSTEAD THE BEAR GOT HUGGED.  THERE’S STILL A LITTLE LANGUAGE MIS-COMMUNICATION.

                            WE VISIT  PTUJ: SLOVENIA’S OLDEST VILLAGE
Skofja Loka is the 2nd oldest village in Slovenia and Ptuj is the oldest.  They have a  2 week celebration every year and the parade is the final event.  It was about an hour drive from our house.
It’s big event so we went early and brought our bikes, so we could do some exploring before the parade.

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THE RIVER-MAN MADE LAKE HAS A BIKE-PEDESTRIAN PATH ALL THE WAY AROUND.  THAT’S THE OLDEST CASTLE IN SLOVENIA, DATING BACK TO 70 AD.
I didn’t know it, but there are 2 communities of Gypsies (Romas), in Slovenia.  I was asked for money more today than I have my whole year in Slovenia.  I felt like I had a sign on my forehead, “ask me for money”, they would walk the line, stop and ask me.  They train them young too, I had a 3 year old ask me for money, holy shit.

I remember seeing the Kurent (or Korant) costume at the Ethnology Museum in Ljubljana.

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DEPENDING ON THE VILLAGE THEY’RE FROM, THEY EITHER DECORATE THE HEADDRESS WITH FEATHERS, FLOWERS OR HORNS.

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According to an ancient belief Kurent is a demon chasing winter away and calling spring to the country.

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HERE’S GOOGLE IMAGES OF THIS YEARS PARADE
HERE’S SOME HISTORY OF ALL CHARACTERS OF THE PTUJ CARNAVAL .

HERE’S OUR  PHOTOS FROM THE WEDDING AND PTUJ CARNAVAL

Thanks for reading
JEFF AND NATASA
NEXT?   PORTLAND?– SKOFJA LOKA? What’s the difference? PART II

OLD COUPLE MARUNION MARR

“TILL DEATH DO US PART” WE GOT MARRIED

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                                                      “SAFE TRIP ON THE PATHS OF MARRIED LIFE” thanks Roman and Breda

It took travelling the world to find my life partner, Natasa and i made the commitment to be together, “TILL DEATH DO US PART”.  We had the ceremony, here in Skofja Loka with family and friends.
For the foreseeable future we will be living here in Skofja Loka.  I love Natasa and Skofja Loka and have no problem, what so ever about being buried here.

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OUR SUPER HERO RINGS

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SARA-NATASA-JEFF with NATASA’S FAVORITE FLOWERS “TULIPS” (mine too!)

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FRANC (Natasa’s dad), ANDREJA (Natasa’s witness), MIRJANA (Natasa’s mom), BREDA & ROMAN (friends and my witness)

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IT’LL BE OK?

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WE ARE SUPER HAPPY!

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JANEZ (Natasa’s brother) and FAMILY: SPELA, ELA  and MAKS

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I’M OFFICIALLY THE KING OF SKOFJA LOKA

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THANK YOU MATEJA FOR TRANSLATING THE CEREMONY, JUST IN CASE I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT I WAS GETTING INTO

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NATASA IS PRACTICING SIGNING HER NEW LAST NAME,  SIFRAR-BERNARDS

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NATASA’S DAD IS THE MAIN THE REASON I WANT TO LEARN TO SPEAK SLOVENIAN–HE IS VERY FUNNY!

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IS THE WORLD READY FOR US?

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I’M THE LUCKIEST GUY IN THE WORLD!  AND I SHOULD KNOW I’VE BEEN AROUND THE WORLD 3 TIMES. FINALLY!

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ANDREJA, ROMAN, NATASA, JEFF, BREDA

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THANKS EVERYONE FOR THE SUPER GIFTS: TREE OF LOVE FROM ANDREJA & THAI MASSAGE FROM ROMAN AND BREDA.  ROMANTIC GETAWAY WEEKEND FROM JANEZ’S & SPELA’S FAMILY.

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A TOAST FOR A LONG LOVING LIFE (I’m on it).  BOUQUET ORANOMENT 

DSC_1104WE HAD DINNER AT STARMANS, OUR FAVORITE l “TRADITIONAL SLOVENIAN”  RESTAURANT IN SKOFJA LOKA .  MY FAVORITE IS TURKEY AND THEY SERVE IT 3  DIFFERENT WAYS.  NATASA’S PARENTS MIRJANA & FRANC PAID FOR THE DINNER, THEY MADE IS SO EASY COMPARED TO MY FIRST MARRIAGE.

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CHOCOLATE PUDDING WITH ICE CREAM   AND CUSTARD  WITH FRUIT TOPPING

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THANKS TO SARA FOR TAKING ALL THESE GREAT PHOTOS, (we were busy;-)
ENJOY THE RIDE, WE KNOW WE WILL FOR SURE.
JEFF & NATASA

If your interested in attending our summer celebration, send me an email and keep up on the dates. Sometime in July or Aug.

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PORTLAND?– SKOFJA LOKA? What’s the difference? PART I

I’m from Portland Oregon, USA and I’m now living in Skofja Loka, Slovenia.  I’ve been asked if I miss America? the answer has been, not as much as you might think I should.  I never really bought into America’s values of bigger & bigger: grocery stores, Gigantic Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), blatant corporate welfare, disregards for science (climate change), It’s insistence on living an unsustainable life while impoverishing the rest of the world. The view of endless consumption, with no consequences.   Ok, I’m done, but I think you understand where I’m coming from.
The little village of Skofja Loka, is similar to Portland in many ways.  Both have two rivers that join at the city.  Skoja Loka has the  Poljane Sora and the Selca Sora rivers,

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THIS IS THE WHERE THE POLJANE SORA AND THE SELCA SORA RIVERS MEET, IN WINTER!

Portland’s 2 rivers are the mighty Columbia River and the Willamette River, and they meet at Kelly Point Park.

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THIS IS VIEW FROM WHERE THE COLUMBIA AND WILLAMETTE RIVERS MEET, IT’S PRETTY REPRESENTATIVE OF AMERICA “BIG”

What’s the difference?  I bike by the rivers in Skofja Loka every time I go to the grocery store.  The two big rivers in Portland?  I’ve biked out there once in 20 years.  Portland is currently studying the feasibility of putting a bike bath to Kelly Point Park.  I’ve already got a great bike/pedestrian path over the river.
CONNECTED WITH NATURE? WINNER SKOFJA LOKA

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THE BRIDGE I BIKE ACROSS GOING TO THE GROCERY STORE

With 2 rivers running through both towns, bridges are a must.  This is where, again, America is big.  Portland has 8 major bridges crossing the Willamette River, most designed for cars only.  Several bridges have been retrofitted for bicycles and the new Tillikum Crossing is a train/bike/pedestrian only bridge.

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THE NEW TILLIKUM BRIDGE IS THE FIRST MAJOR NON-AUTO BRIDGE IN PORTLAND AND GORGEOUS AT NIGHT WITH THE NEW LIGHTS.

Skofja Loka has more pedestrian only bridges than car bridges, and  all the auto bridges are pedestrian friendly. i’m able to walk everywhere: post office,stores, galleries, restaurants, movie theater..

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THIS PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE IS  THE MAIN ROUTE  TO THE LOCAL GRADE SCHOOL AND HIGH SCHOOL.

PEDESTRIAN FRIENDLY? WINNER SKOFJA LOKA
Farmers Markets are a big deal in Portland and Skofja Loka.  In Portland my neighborhood farmers market , Montavilla, is about a 20 minute walk from my house. In the winter it’s only open every couple weeks.  The year round market is a 20 minute bike ride from my house. The Skofja Loka Farmers market is a 4 minute walk from our apartment and is open 3 days a week, year round, Tuesday’s, Thursday;s and Saturday’s-which is the BIG market day.

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THIS IS OLGA AND HER SON’S HUGE WINTER PRODUCE SELECTION.

I’m able to buy organic pears, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and more 3 days a week-YEAR ROUND!

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THEY SELL VARIOUS SEEDED-WHOLE WHEAT BREADS. PUMPKIN SEEDS AND PUMPKIN SEED OIL ARE BIG IN SLOVENIA.

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ANOTHER PLUS? 2 DAYS A WEEK WE GET FRESH FISH FROM THE COAST, 1 1/2 HRS AWAY. Notice the name?  HAPPYDAY!

FARMERS MARKETS? WINNER SKOFJA LOKA

The car is king in America and here in Slovenia too.  We have one car that Natasa uses to go to work at 5:30 in the morning, about 16km (10 miles). Natasa use to put her bike away for the winter, no longer, we ride every week to somewhere.

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ONE OF THE MANY BIKE PATHS AROUND SKOFJA LOKA, LESS THAN ONE MILE FROM OUR APARTMENT.

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I DO MOST OF OUR SHOPPING BY BIKE, THANKS TO MY ORTLIEB BAGS.

We’ve had some snowy weather here in Skofja Loka lately.  It might snow in Portland but it only last a couple of days.

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I HAD TO DIG OUT NATASA’S CAR

One thing I don’t miss is the congested highways in Portland.  Portland prides itself as a transportation hub for the import and export of goods.  The only problem with that is that the roads are crowded with big diesel pollution spewing semi-trucks.

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THIS IS THE DAILY SCENE ON THE “FREEWAY” NEAR MY HOUSE IN PORTLAND.  TRAFFIC BACKED UP AS FAR AS YOU CAN SEE, EVERY DAY.

Don’t be mistaken, even with great bus and train service to and from Skofja Loka, there are still huge traffic problems.  But here in Skofja Loka, we only have 2 lane roads, so it can only get so bad.

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THIS IS ONE OF THE 3 TRAFFIC BACK UPS IN TOWN, CARS LINED UP TO GET THROUGH THE NARROW ONE WAY  ROAD ON THE WAY OUT OF TOWN.

At the top of the road right before the one way, is where the locals hitchhike home from school & work.. This is one way to cut down on traffic and reduce C02 emissions from cars, “car-pooling”

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OK, WHO ARE YOU GOING TO PICK-UP? JUST WONDERING

It’s obvious that there’s going to be less traffic in a village of 12,000 people. I feel It’s more manageable with only 12,000 people than with a million people like in Portland.
TOLERABLE TRAFFIC?  WINNER SKOFJA LOKA

I never thought I could survive in a small town.  I always thought I needed multiple opportunities to have enough things to do: stores, museums, music,friends, comedy, nature, but I’m finding it easier than I thought to get  use to, small town life.  We road our bikes into Ljubljana a couple weeks ago, to see the “Painting in Normandy” art exhibit.   When artist would escape industrialized society and seek refuge in nature, on the French coast of Normandy.  It was called the “Dawn of Impressionism.”  it was during the  later half of the 19 century & the beginning of the 20th century.

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CAPTURING SUMMER ON THE FRENCH COAST

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“BEFORE THE HUNT” by Slovene painter JURIJ SUBIC

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ANOTHER PAINTING BY SLOVENIAN ARTIST JURIJ SUBIC

Everyday I’m finding it easier to enjoy small town life, I really never thought I could. Here, I feel more connected by walking to the farmers market, grocery store, bakery, coffee shops, Natasa’s parents.  I never liked to walk much, it was always faster by bike.  But here everything is so close it’s faster to walk than to get out the bike.  Use a car? never even crosses my mind as an option.
SIZE OF LIFESTYLE? WINNER SKOFJA LOKA (BIG TIME)

I’ve never really ridin my bike where there’s  snow all around.  Kranj was having a celebration event, PRESERNOV SMENJ and Natasa suggested we ride there.  I was like heck ya, let’s go.  On Sunday morning it was -4c (24 fahrenheit), cold but sunny.  I would rather ride in cold sunny weather, than warm rainy weather, any day.

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IT’S COLD, BUT GORGEOUS

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IT SEEMS COLDER IN THE SHADOWS, BUT THE SUN SHINES ON THE FARMERS FIELDS

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WE WALKED THE LAST COUPLE KILOMETERS ON THE ICE AND SNOW. WE RODE THE MAIN ROAD 1/2 WAY BACK TO AVOID THE BIKE-WALKING.

We were meeting some friends at the event, they were inside a restaurant, but  first I wanted to walk around and look at everything.

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I BOUGHT THIS RUSTY BIKE SIGN, AND A BICYCLE LIGHTER TOO.

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THIS IS A TRADITIONAL KITCHEN ACCESSORIES SALES TECHNIQUE FROM A VILLAGE IN SLOVENIA, EVERYTHING IS ON THEIR BACK.

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Events that happen around Slovenia are mostly based on history and this part of Europe is old.
Portland was founded in 1851 with only 800 inhabitants, so it’s 164 years old.  Skofja Loka was founded in 973 and is 1,042 years old.  There’s lots of stories to be told with that much time gone by.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE? WINNER SKOFJA LOKA (by 878 years)
I’m concerned with food security, so in Portland I took my yard and planted an edible landscape, all fruit trees and garden beds.  In America the average meal travels 2414 km (1500 miles), to reach your plate.  America burns 10 calories of energy (oil etc) to produce 1 calorie of food, basically unsustainable.  Here in Skofja Loka the Cheese plant is 2 blocks from our apartment, the local butcher is just 2 blocks away too (FYI no smell at all).  There are small dairy farmers right in most towns with just a few cows.  They grow the cow feed literally in their own backyards, so no transportation costs or carbon footprint.
Some of the farmers that provide produce at Portland’s Farmers markets drive 120 km (75 miles) each way to supply “local produce”.  Olga brings her produce 11 km  (7 miles),to Skofja Loka’s Farmers Market, now that’s local produce.
A new grocery store just opened in Skofja Loka that sells all Organic Slovenian Products.
FOOD SECURITY? WINNER SKOFJA LOKA (by kms/miles)

WHAT ABOUT BIKES?
The blog is called Jeffsbiketour for a reason, I try to focus most of my insights towards the role bicycles can play in everyone’s daily life.  Portland has invested in lots of different biking opportunities and safety projects. Currently there is a huge pushback from auto owners to stop spending money on bike infrastructure and make bikers pay.  Yet cars don’t even come close covering  their cost of roads, bridges and safety projects.  Skofja Loka curently doesn’t have any money to do any major bike infrastructure spending. I asked the Mayor of Skofja Loka to finish the last 50 meters of bike path to the local hardware store, his response? no money.  There are numerous farmers roads and gravel paths that help you avoid riding on the major roads.
BIKING OPPORTUNITIES? TIE both have safe biking options (FYI it rains alot in Portland)
I hope you enjoyed reading Jeffsbiketour, it’s like my (our) journal.  I’m 59 years old and trying to stay as active as I can till the end.  I’m doing a mini-european tour starting March 5th.I’m traveling to Berlin, Paris,(Royan, Airvault, Poitiers), visiting past bike touring friends met on various travel adventures.  Then I’m meeting Natasa in Lisbon for a 2 week tour of the Portugal and Spain.  You can buy $50 airline tickets to nearly anywhere around Europe.  I will be bringing my bike helmet for touring and then writing about it.  So Jeffsbiketour will live on with the bike theme in mind.

A  Portland newspaper did an article on Portland 27 REASON TO LOVE PORTLAND RIGHT NOW
RIDE ON
JEFF

NEXT?  TILL DEATH DO US PART?

IMG_2232Fullscreen capture 252015 35504 AMAFTER DIGGING OUT NATASA’S CAR, I MAY NEED TO RE-THINK ALL OF THIS?

Portland is still a very popular place to move to, I haven’t sold my house yet, you never know.  This video is part of a new culture to keep Portland from becoming  big like Seattle or San Francisco. It’s called

STOP TELLING PEOPLE ABOUT PORTLAND

SKOFJA LOKA: FIRE & ICE

t’s Christmas day and Natasa and I have it alone-together.  Natasa suggest we walk around Lake Bled I tell her I also want to go on the river walk that has all the bridges, VINTGAR GORGE.

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IT’S A TRULY AMAZING HIKE WITH THE WALKWAYS ATTACHED TO THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN.

I last visited Lake Bled on my original bike tour through Slovenia, it was fun to come back.

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LAKE BLED IS AN AMAZING PLACE IN AN AMAZING COUNTRY.. THAT’S THE CASTLE ON TOP OF THE ROCK ON THE LEFT.

After a full day of adventure hiking and walking, were not done.  I’m driving and suggest we go into Ljubljana for the Christmas lights.  There’s a river cruise, so the tourist in me says, let’s go for a boat ride.

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I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEY HAVE E=mc2 (squared) IN LIGHTS

Meanwhile back home, it’s snowed and the sledding hills are showing themselves in Skofja Loka

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THERE’S A GREAT SLEDDING HILL RIGHT NEXT TO THE CASTLE IN SKOFJA LOKA

You can tell by the last post Christmas was awesome.  The excitement didn’t end there.  I had the flu so on New Years we stayed at home watching The Grand Budapest Hotel.  We heard this big explosion, looked at each other? WTF?  Being it was New Year’s and there were plenty of “real” fireworks and explosions that night, we shrugged it off and  went back to watching the movie.  A few minutes later, we look and see this.

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THIS IS THE FIRE JUST GETTING STARTED (those are 2 lights below the flames)

Soon the entire apartment is engulfed in flames.  The first 3 fire trucks only had extension ladders.

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THE APARTMENT ACROSS THE SQUARE WAS ON FIRE, AT ONE POINT THE FLAMES ON THE BACKSIDE WERE 5 METERS (15 FT.) IN THE AIR.

From our window you could see the whole thing unfold.  One firefighter stood on the ground using a hose, that couldn’t reach the fire, it would have been funny if it wan’t potentially so tragic.

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THE LADDER FIRE TRUCK FINALLY ARRIVED  FROM A NEARBY VILLAGE AND GOT THE BLAZE UNDER CONTROL.

They thought they had extinguished the fire, and brought the ladder down.  From our vantage point we could see the fire had started up again.  They raised the ladder again and extinguished the flames again, they did that twice.
The next day we learned that the guy committed suicide by lighting a room full of natural gas.  I talked with the neighbor yesterday, he said he saw the explosion, a blue flames shooting out the windows and the whole roof had lifted up.

We got some sunny winter weather and I was able to bike around .  People ask how do you ride when it’s -3?  I always say, it’s like going skiing, you just wear a few extra layers and off you go.

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I”ve never actually lived where you could or had to bike with snow all around.  I have 5 layers on,

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RIDING THROUGH THE FARMERS FIELDS, “IN THE SUN”

Surly sent me some parts for my bike and told me to go to Pici Bici  to have it fixed.  They had some cool bikes and other bike stuff.  They specialized in refurbishing old bikes and are the Surly representatives in Slovenia.

They had a bike with a sharpening stone attached.  You removed the bike chain and attached the grinder chain to the front sprocket, start pedaling.  I think something like this could work really well at on of Portland’s many Farmers Markets.

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BICYCLE WITH SHARPENING STONE ATTACHED

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LOOK CLOSELY AT THE FRONT BRAKE ASSEMBLY. YOU PUSH THAT ROUND KNOB, THAT THEN APPLIES THE BRAKE TO THE TIRE

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IT’S A BBQ BIKE TRAILER, MAYBE ANOTHER BUSINESS OR A BBQ PARTY!

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AND OF COURSE A PORTLAND FAVORITE, KEG DELIVERY.

RIDING THE SNOWY BACKROADS CAN BE CHALLENGING, YET LOTS OF FUN TOO.

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SOME PARTS WERE A SHEET OF ICE, ALMOST BIT IT, BUT NO.

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ONE PLUS, THERE ARE NO CARS OUT HERE!

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                                                 SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE I’M LIVING IN A FAIRY TALE

I wanted to get a clock for the living room wall.  I shopped on ETSY for bike clocks, but with shipping it was going to cost $50 easy.  So I was in the Chinese shop at the mall and bought a clock for 8 euro.  I  also bought a bike shoe box at the same store a couple weeks ago.

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I SCANNED THE BIKE SHOE BOX AND REMOVED THE OLD CLOCK IMAGE AND PUT THE BIKE IMAGES INSIDE THE CLOCK.

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I MADE MY OWN BIKE CLOCK FOR ABOUT 10 EURO ($12)

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE JABBA THE HUT?
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i didn’t take a photo of Natasa cleaning up and stomping down the last of Jabba the Hut. It took 3 weeks to melt.

The stories that I planned to write about this time will have to wait till  next time.  There is so much to share about living here in Skofja Loka, Slovenia and best of all with Natasa.
MORE PHOTOS HERE

Thanks for reading.
People People where are the comments?
JEFF

NEXT? Farmers market, walking bridges  politics, and?

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SKOFJA LOKA, “More than I could ever wish for”

                                                HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM JEFF’S BIKE TOUR

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IT SNOWED LAST WEEK AND LOOKS JUST LIKE THIS. CHECK OUT THE PHOTOS.

We are doing super. I have a great situation, Natasa and I are super happy together.

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SHE WANTS MY HAIR DRY, (I don’t really care), but it’s fun!

Not only is it great with her, but Sara (her daughter) and parents are great to be with too.
The family situation for me is something I haven’t had in my life, for a long time. After my grandmother died in1995, there has been only a couple family Holidays for me, once with my brother. My mom died last summer, I hadn’t talked with her in 20 years.  My Dad? That’s another story too, I’ve written him once in the last 10 years.   I unfriended my 1 brother  on Facebook, a couple of months ago. Enough. 

So that gets me to what I want to actually talk about.  The great family situation I’m in now.  Natasa & I laugh and love all day, I’ve never had it so good.  “Living the dream” that’s really the truth.  Natasa’s parents are only a 5 minute walk away.  We’ve  had them over for breakfast. Sunday night dinners and Christmas.  Natasa’s Mom, Mirjana  had a 70th birthday party this summer.

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MIRJANA IS IN THE RED. I GOT TO PRUNE THE APPLE TREES BEFORE THE PARTY, IT’S GREAT TO HAVE SOMEWHERE TO PUT MY ENERGY TO HELP OUT.

They had numbered birthday cards but they were sold out of the 70 ones, I went to 3 stores!

 

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                                        “HUGE” VEGETARIAN NIGHTMARE

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NATASA\S DAD, FRANC, MOVING FURNITURE BETWEEN RAINSTORMS AT THE PARTY.

Both Franc and I were on our own for dinner one night. He tries to speak some English, it’s still better than my Slovenian. We had coupons for 2 free Bosnian Sausage dinners, we went and had a great time-even with the language problems.
I cooked Christmas dinner this year, turkey, vegetarian shepherd’s pie, salad, mushroom stuffing.  I looked down at the table and soon realized, I cooked the whole thing, holy shit.

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MIRJANA LOVES TO DRESS UP, IT’S GREAT. (photo by Sara )

Franc said if he likes the food he shows it by eating ALOT!  It’s actually quite amazing how much he can eat. Mirjana is a great cook too.

 

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TRADITIONAL SLOVENIAN: RED PEPPER IN  (OLIVE OIL, HERBS), POTATOES, PORK AND SOME SHREDDED ROOT? WITH BEANS

Another traditional Holiday that they have here and not in America is St. Nicholas Day.  You exchange small gifts 10 days before Christmas.  Natasa’s brother’s family, parents and Natasa and Sara.

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THAT’S EVERYBODY ON ST. NICHOLAS DAY EXCHANGING FRUIT, SAUSAGES , TEA AND CHOCOLATE!

 

IMG_0612It’s great living in the “old town”, bike tourist  come through all summer, it’s great to talk with them.   This is Oscar & Patricia from Argentina, on their  3 year journey. They stayed a few days in our basement room. I think their staying in Istanbul now for the winter.

 

 

 

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THIS IS ALL THEIR GEAR THEY HAD 2 GUITARS AND A CELLO!

My plan is to do bike tours here in Slovenia.  I’ve camped and visited maybe 1/2 the country.  There still lots to explore and would love to show off Slovenia to my friends.

 

 

 

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LOCAL POT LUCK: ALMOST ALL DESERTS, (very Slovenian)

We got invited to a neighborhood meeting, Natasa had to work so I went.  They all had kids,  I also learned that people from around Slovenia come to Skofja Loka just to walk around the square with their kids.  I was wondering why I was seeing so many baby carriages.

 

 

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THE NEW TUNNEL 2 LANE “FREEWAY”, MAKES A GREAT CARFREE BIKE PATH (temporarily)

 

It’s been a mild &  dry winter.  I rode into Ljubljana 3 times in 7 days (50 km rt), to Christmas shop.  I’m learning all the “safe” bike routes.

 

 

 

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IT’S CLEAR AND COLD  BIKING TO LJUBLJANA 

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IT FINALLY SNOWED HERE, i TOOK THIS PHOTO FROM OUR 3RD FLOOR APARTMENT.

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I HOPE THE STRAWBERRIES SURVIVE

We have a small patio and the snow was piled up.
It was pretty cold -8 (17 degrees fahrenheit). So the snow was so dry that you couldn’t make a snow man.  So we tried to shovel the into something?

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IT’S JABBA THE HUT FROM STAR-WARS: KIWI EYES, BANANA EYEBROWS, POTATO NOSE, CARROT TONGUE, STICKS FOR LIPS AND ARMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE VIEW FROM MY FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP

I’m learning some Slovenian, I’ll say adijo (goodbye), then they say goodbye to me in English.  Everyone knows I only know a few words but when I try to practice they end up just speaking English to me (thanks).  So I thought ok, I call Natasa honey in Slovenian, why not?

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MED IS SLOVENIAN FOR HONEY

So I started calling her Med instead of honey.  She liked honey better.  Medi is a little bear, so I started calling her Med Medi and she likes that (somewhat) we both laugh about it.
Here’s your chance to see how hard the Slovenian language  really is.  How to say “Did you eat anything yet?” in Slovenian.  There’s only 10 ways to say it!

I really feel like I rescued the 3rd phase  of my life meeting. Natasa and her family  are a true blessing for me.
More Photos are HERE

I hope you enjoyed this update.  Thanks for reading.

Jeff

NEXT: FIRE BREAKS OUT ON NEW YEARS IN SKOFJA LOKA & MORE FUN TALES.

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THE RAVEONETTES IN ZAGREB, CROATIA

I enjoy seeing live music every so often, in Slovenian? Not often enough.  While doing a search for concerts near here, I found out that one of my favorite bands were playing in Zagreb, Croatia.  Natasa couldn’t get off work, but I really needed a music fix, and especially from one of my favorite bands, THE RAVENONETTES.  On my bike trip I played ALY, WALK WITH ME, nearly every morning.  The lyrics of “Aly, Walk with me in Portland” reminded me of my home of Portland. Before I left, I wrote them on facebook and requested they play this song.

I took the bus to Zagreb, about an hour or so away.  I went early in the morning so I could spend the day exploring Zagreb.  First, the tourist office at the bus station in Zagreb, pointed to the English map and said nothing else, she had nothing to share about her city.  She said the tram cost 6 kuna.  So I boarded the tram and find out you need a pre-paid tram card to ride, that would have been some useful information I could have used.  I got off the tram at a place that looked like a town square.

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I FOUND THE FARMERS MARKET AND THIS REALLY AWESOME FISH MARKET.

I only brought a day pack with me, but was still able to buy a 1/2 kilo of awesome dates and figs.  I walked around and came across this pretty spectacular church.

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THEY’RE RESTORING THE CHURCH, YOU CAN SEE THE ORIGINAL ON THE LEFT AND THE REPLACEMENT REPLICA ON THE RIGHT.

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If you’ve read this blog, you may know, I’m not a big fan of walking.  I always prefer my bike, but walking does offer opportunities the bike does not.  There are signs everywhere, pointing in every direction, to some museum or monument.

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THE “MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS”

I use to have a handicrafts business for 10 years so of course I chose the Croatian Art and Craft Museum.

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“WOMAN HANGING LAUNDRY”

The furniture was really exquisite.

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I REALLY LOVE THE INTRICATE INLAID FURNITURE.

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AS A FORMER WOODWORKER, SOMETHING LIKE THIS GIVES ME PAUSE

 

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CANDLE HOLDER, i’D PUT THAT IN MY HOUSE, FOR SURE

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FUNCTIONAL ART IS ALWAYS PLEASING

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FUN ART IS JUST AS PLEASING TOO!

I made it to a small room on the third floor, all clocks.  Of course I asked the person who was working alone up there, “what time is it”, I kinda flustered her.  I had to explain the question was for fun, she laughed.  Check photos for more museum art photos.

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IT’S ALWAYS TIME FOR LOVE

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PHOTO GALLERY

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REMINDS ME OF PORTLAND, (the part I don’t miss)

After walking around the museum for hours, it’s time for lunch.  While walking (yes walking) to the museum I passed a must visit restaurant;  I was talking with the coat check lady and told her where I was going for lunch, she that’s her favorite place in town.

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I LOVE MEXICAN FOOD AND THIS WAS GREAT! THEY EVEN HAD BLACK BEANS!

I stayed and talked with the owner for awhile.  He lived in California for 6 months and thought bringing mexican food to Croatia could work.  He is about to open a second location and then start trying to serve breakfast.  Breakfast around here is coffee, cigarettes and maybe a piece of bread.  It might take awhile before Croatians realize how important breakfast really is.  I met a Portuguese student who was there with her visiting mother and little brother, she said her friends brought her here when she first arrived for school.  She also said her friends were going to see the Raveonettes too.

I was going to ride the tram to the concert, but the restaurant owner showed me how I could walk the park all the way to the show.  So a walking I go……………………………….

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I SAW THESE ALL AROUND TOWN, BICYCLE STREET SWEEPERS

i wanted to show up early for the Raveonettes show,  hopefully  I could catch  the sound check.

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

The Raveonettes are from Denmark, they sing their songs in English, but during the sound check they were speaking Danish to the sound board guy.

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YEP, GOT THE PHOTO AND SHARIN SAID SHE SAW MY FACEBOOK POST. HUNG OUT AND CHATTED FOR JUST A FEW MINUTES, SUPER FUN!

I didn’t buy a T-shirt, because at my age I already have a t-shirt for nearly everyday of the year.

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THIS IMAGE WAS ON A KIDS SIZE T-SHIRT, IF IT WAS ON AN ADULT SIZE SHIRT, I MIGHT HAVE BOUGHT IT.

I was there early, so I was able to stand right next to the stage.  There were 5 photographers swarming the front of the stage.  I finally told one, that he had enough pictures and needed to move along so we could enjoy the show, it worked.

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I LOVE THIS TYPE OF CLOSE UP SHOW VERSUS A STADIUM VENUE.

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IMG_1848 THIS IS THE GUITAR TECHNIQUE FOR “ALY, WALK WITH ME”

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SET SONG LIST PLUS ENCORE

It was a “GREAT” show.  So now I’m down by the river and far from the bus station.  I was starting to walk to the bus station, then I asked some folks if they were going by the bus station. YES, holy shit was I lucky.
My bus was suppose to come by at 2am, so at 2 am I boarded the bus and thought, I better ask, wrong bus, that was close.  My bus was over an hour late.  But it worked out, when I arrived back in Ljubljana, the first morning bus back to Skofja Loka was only a 10 minute wait.
I GOT MY MUSIC FIX, I’M GOOD FOR A LITTLE WHILE

MORE PHOTOS HERE

THANKS FOR READING
JEFF

NEXT? SKOFJA LOKA PART III

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