MISC. FUN STUFF IN SLOVENIA-PHOTOS

It’s so weird having so much free time, called retirement.  I’m able to pick things that interest me, whether it’s visiting museums, biking, or proposing new ideas for active tourism here in Skofja Loka.  When I was working, I was lucky to go to one movie during Film Festivals in Portland.  Ljubljana had a documentary film festival,   I picked 10 movies, 2 alternates  to see, Natasa could only find 2 (different ones).  Some things are frustrating.
The many Islamic groups like Boko Haram, ISIS, ISIL, Al-Shabaab, Taliban, al-Qaeda  & Saudi Arabia all treat women like 2nd class citizens.  Banning education, no driving, arranged marriages, the male power structure is morally wrong.  I’ve used my tax refund to buy school supply kits for girls in Afghanistan.  Whenever I have extra money I support groups that offer education opportunities for oppressed people.  So when I read about the movie Sonita, I knew I had to see it.  It was GREAT,  I happily cried all the way through it.  It actually puts America in a positive light.  Anyway go see it.

Some other movies I liked:
1.  How to Save the World is the story about the formation of Greenpeace, contains original film footage from the 70’s and interviews with the original members today, inspirational.
2.  NOAM CHOMSKY in “Requiem for an American Dream.”talks politics, what’s interesting it was the only “sold out” movie.
3.  Chuck Norris vs Communism  How American movies are thought to have influenced the over throw of the government  Romania.  Who’s leaders were eventually executed.
4.  Among the Believers, exposes the Red Mosques in Afghanistan and the reprisals.
5.  Fog of Srebrenica  Inside look at the war in Bosnia.

I’m trying to bring Sonita to Skofja Loka’s movie theater, KinoSora.  I offered to pay to bring it to town, I hope they take me up on the offer.

I attended the “Home Show” in Ljubljana, I’m was looking for a patio awning.  I found 2 things I like, tiny houses and electric bikes. The electric bike by Spring. was awesome.   The tiny solar house had everything you need, quiet the bomb.

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WOODEN ELECTRIC BIKE

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SOLAR WINE BARREL TINY HOUSE

During the film festival, I went to Ljubljana nearly everyday. Some days I had hours in between movies.   I had never really visited the Castle in Ljubljana, so I took 3 hours & the audio guide and went corner to corner in the castle.  There was a historical exhibition about the transportation history in Ljubljana. Bikes were and are still;popular options for getting around town.   I love the bike share except when there’s no bikes left.  I ran up as the last bike was being checked out, I walked.

The tourist office in Ljubljana suggested I visit the Botanical Garden.  I rode a bike share bike there and walked to the garden.  It was still kinda winter, so there wasn’t a lot to see.  I went inside the greenhouse, that was great.  There were bananas, flowers, I felt like I took a 20 minute vacation in SE Asia.  The only think missing were jungle sounds, I suggested they put in some speakers and turn it up.  I  waited a month and revisited the botanical garden, it’s in bloom now.

Even during the winter,  Skofja Loka has a lot going on.   There was a eating healthy local foods festival.  I bought the pear brandy that has a pear inside.  They tie a bottle up in the tree, with a pear allowed to grow inside.  The famous Skofja Loka bicycle gang visited the festival too.  The local bike shop had e-bike testing for 5 days. I took Dan on the Super 8 ride.  I called him and told him to take his girlfriend, he told me “I already did”-she liked it.  There was the suicide fire last year, they finally finished the roof and “topped” it off by adding a copper tower.  Why? I have no idea.

We drove by the Postojna Caves last fall, but Natasa  wouldn’t pay the $25 to go in.  So I took the bus there by myself.  It was great.  Everyone says it’s a big tourist trap with the train and all.  But that was the awesome part (besides the caves themselves), it allowed families with kids and the elderly to experience the caves.  The train goes underground for 7 minutes, your in there way deep.  It takes the stalagmites a 100 years to grow 1 cm (less than 1/2 an inch).  There were formations that were 500,000  years old.  The walkways had railings and slip proof walkways through out.  Definitely a great day trip thing to do in Slovenia.

My phone camera isn’t the best  inside the cave.  Here’more  professional pictures

Here’s some misc photos that I want to share. Signs, Art, Sports, Nature, Celebrations, Logging, Farming, Bee Door. There are many small dairy operations here, some with just a few cows. I caught a small producer bringing his milk to the Cheese Plant, by car. There was a National Geographic photo exhibition in Tivoli Park.  There were photos of Triglav National Park on one side and photos of National parks of America on the other side.  I took a couple photos of the photos.

Slovenia  celebrates it’s writers and poets with numerous holidays, statues and monuments.  Public art exhibit in Ljubljana had a quote by Ivan Canker from a book called My Life, 1914.

“AT THIS SCHOOL WE WERE BARE-HEADED AND BARE ARMED AND WE ROLLED OUR TROUSERS RIGHT UP ON OUR THINGS.  ONCE IN THE HEAT OF MY LONGING FOR FURTHER WISDOM, I WENT AJUST A LITTLE TOO DEEP IN THE WATER.
SUDDENLY I FELT AS THOUGH I WERE RIDING A HUGE GREEN HORSE, STRAIGHT TOWARDS THE SPLENDID SUN.
INCOMPARABLE BLISS SWEPT OVER ME & I FELT LIKE AN EMPEROR.  AT THE MOMENT A PITILESS GRABBED ME BY THE HAIR & FLUNG ME HARSHLY ON THE PEBBLES.  
THERE I SHUDDERED & BURST INTO TEARS WITHOUT KNOWING WHY.  IT WAS JURCA’S FARM-HAND WHO PULLED ME OUT OF THE WATER.
IF ANYONE HAS ANY OBJECTION TO ANYTHING I HAVE DONE LATER IN LIFE, HE SHOULD TAKE IT UP WITH THAT FARM-HAND, NOT WITH ME.”

Ljubljana is the Green Capital of Europe 2016, I try to visit the special monthly exhibits.  There was a  water exhibit that I really wanted to visit. Droughts in Thailand, India, Syria, Vietnam are effecting both people and the economy.   They say the next (or current) wars are going to be over water. A Documentary movie by Slovenian’s, Tomo Križnar and Maja Weiss, 2008 called “Darfur- War for Water” was on a poster.  It’s a 7 part series in 15 minute segments. Little Slovenia was trying to help broker a peace deal, kinda makes me proud to be here.  This is part one:


I’ve been working on the Go Skofja Loka business plan for promoting arts & crafts tourism.  Most of the pieces are already in place.  Trying to get everyone on the same page by working together, that’s the real task at hand.  Skofja Loka has all 3 attractions that make an Adventure Travel Destination: : physical activity, natural environment and cultural immersion.  The biking, hiking, fishing, swimming, arts & crafts, traditional food and farming make Skofja Loka a perfect un-crowded traveler/tourist destination.  Here’s 150 things to do in Skofja Loka.

I hope this blog post finds you  coming back in the future.  Living in a new country away from America, has been eye opening.  I feel lucky this month that I was able to donate, to my favorite charities. ROOM TO READ,   SOLAR LIGHTS IN AFRICA,   AVAAZ,  350.ORG

 

Till next time
Jeff

Next: Who knows?

VENICE, ITALY-TOGETHER & ALONE

I like to write about being a tourist/traveler using a bicycle. But biking is illegal in Venice, regardless, it’s impossible to actually ride there. I visited Venice in 2013, but at that time I was pretty road weary after 4.5 months biking on the road.  I hid in my room, worked on the blog and enjoyed the air conditioning.  When I left I took the train, to Slovenia, and the rest is history.
It’s only a 2.5 hr drive to Venice from Ljubljana, we used GO-OPTI, by the time you pay gas and parking, it’s about the same and we didn’t have to drive!

SOME QUICK VENICE HISTORY

Venice is in a lagoon, that early settlers used for safety from the many invasions, the first time being in 421 AD.  Venice consists of 117 islands with 150 canals and 438 bridges.  It was built on 10 million trees logged in Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro.  The trees were stuck into the mud and built up from there.    The logs are totally immersed in the salt water, that’s why they don’t rot (no oxygen), the logs actually get harder by petrifying. Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant from 1271-1295. Attila the Hun  or Attila the Destroyer, of whom it was said that where he stepped grass never grew again; Attila the Scourge of God, who declared that he would cross over into Italy to hunt, and when they asked him what he would hunt, said with a brutal laugh, “Hunt? What should I hunt, but Romans?”. Frenchman Napoleon Bonaparte invaded the region between 1796-97.  It’s so interesting to visit the actual places that I read about in history class growing up.

                                                   VENICE WITH NATASA
I suggested to Natasa that we celebrate our 1 year anniversary in Venice, Valentines Weekend!  We waited until after the Venice Carnival.  I made a reservation at the Hotel I stayed at last time,( because I was too old for the Hostel part of the building}.  Natasha’s friends accuse her of being with a hippy and that she’s becoming one too.  We brought our hot water pot and made coffee in our room, coffee it turns out is 4 euro & no free re-fills.  We brought homemade granola and shopped for some yogurt and fruit.   We used our window ledge  as the refrigerator.  The internet was timed for a 1/2 hour, then you had to log in again.  Made watching the Blazer game a little frustrating.
Last time I was here, I never figured out the boat system (because I was hiding in my room).   This time I wanted to go to Murano Island, where the famous glass blowing workshops are.  You can buy a 24 hour boat (bus) pass for 20 euro.

I find the tourist information people, train tickets, boat tickets whatever., short and not very helpful.  We ended up taking the long way around to Murano, down the Grand Canal, then out through the Lagoon.  It was beautiful, but we ended up at Murano at lunch time so there were no glass demonstrations. There’s a boat a 2 minute walk from our hotel where you can catch a non-stop boat to Murano (next time😉.  We went to Burano Island too, with it’s Pastel painted buildings.  The best photo was one that Natasha took on the boat ride back.

The next day Natasa thought we would like to walk the entire Eastside of Venice.  My friend Emily from Portland, thought I should see the Biennale part of Venice, the extreme southeast.  By the time we got there, I could hardly walk.  We took the boat back to San Marcos.  When I think Italy I always think Mafia (movies like the Godfather).  There’s the Gondola mafia,  80 euro for 25 minutes, I read they make $150,000 a year.  The rights to be a gondola provider are handed down through generations.

The last day we just walked to San Marco Square, up the tower, ate some awesome street pizza.

After our time in Venice I really felt like there was more I wanted to see.  When we got back I told Natasa that I wanted to go back.  Her response “maybe we can go back in a year” I said I was thinking like next week.  So I found a window of 4 days and headed back.

EXPLORING VENICE BY MYSELF

I headed towards my familiar hotel from last time, but I thought how much I disliked the 1/2 hour internet, so I walked up the stairs to HOTEL ADUA.  That turned out to be a great decision.  I got a nice room for 30 euro a night (winter rates).  Unlimited & password free internet, just that is worth it.  They had a small kitchen where you can have a 5 euro breakfast, I had my french press coffee cup, they had hot water & coffee!.    It’s also just a five minute walk from the train station.
Now that I’m familiar with the boats, I grabbed the non-stop boat to Murano. I get off at the first stop, Colonna.   In 1291 the they moved the glass foundries to Murano, because of the fear of fire burning down wooden Venice.  Winter travel can be the best.  The first gallery CAM VERTI D ARTE sr 1   I was the only one in the store, so the salesman walked me a talked me through 3 floors with probably 4 rooms on each floor, FULL of amazing glass work.  They had some tourist priced pieces, but the real art was there too, in abundance.  The pieces ranged in price from 5,000 to 150,000 euro.  I asked who famous has shopped here?  Mick Jagger, Leonardo DiCaprio I thought so.   Your not allowed to take photos inside the glass shops.  I took a few photos of pieces from the sidewalk.  One shop owner told me the Asians come in, take photos, go home “Made in China”!    I went to 4 different workshops, 2 were for tourist and 2 seemed like actual working shops.

 I wanted to see where the James Bond Movie, “CASINO ROYALE” was filmed. A few failed attempts, but soon I found it, across the Grand Canal, from the Rialto Farmers Market. Something that’s very Venice is called bacari, A wine bar with  french bread appetizers called,  cicheto.  The first time with Natasa she wouldn’t have any, since she (nor I ) drink eating was really our only option.  It’s the best Venice experience.  She stood and watched me eat, it wasn’t that fun.  So I went alone and stayed and enjoyed multiple places & many cichero’s. I really liked vini Al Bottegton, seems like the local hangout.  I come upon a funeral in progress, by boat.   I went to the glass museum for the “free” tour, no free tours in the winter, sometimes winter travel has drawbacks. I looked into taking a mask making workshop, next time (like next winter), Leonardo Di Caprio took a mask making class, then so should I.

Having an old building here in Skofja Loka I have sympathy for “historical” town owners. There is always maintenance, but here you have to contend with the water.
I had 4 great days here, the weather was awesome.  The last day it was the rainy and windy winter weather I had been told about.  I sat in a coffee shop and watched people come around a corner and their umbrellas would turn inside out.  One after another, I sat inside with the souvenir  guys from Bangladesh just laughing and  laughing.  Every garbage can in Venice had broken umbrellas in them.

IS VENICE SINKING?

Yes, but it’s also being swamped by a rising ocean. The sinking was caused by the pumping of fresh water, which they stopped in the 60’s. The boat’s waves also wash away the salt mashes that are supporting the trees, that support the city.   On top of the wood pilings, are marble building foundations.  The marble  resist the salt water and on top of that is brick.  They used brick because it’s lighter, but it is also porous and absorbs the salt water during storm surges and high tides.  Which can occur as many as 100 times a year.   The salt eats the brick, they are repairing the results of Climate Change, but not the causes.  There are plans for inflatable barriers to block dangerous tides at the 3 ocean inlets to the lagoon. There are problems  with that too.  Some older buildings use the canals as the sewer system, that is cleaned out twice a day with the tides.  If they block that natural flow, Venice might start to stink some.  They better do something soon, here’s a few PHOTOS of San Marco Square during the flooding and a video.

That was my 2 trips to Venice in February.   I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. Go see Venice, I loved it and “I’ll be back”
Take Care and Ride Your Bike while you can.
Jeff

Next, The plans to make Skojfa Loka an Active Tourist Destination, visiting Postojna Caves

Going somewhere? Try one of the 10 places named as most ethical travel destinations from Salon.

The ethics of air travel

One thing to consider is the ethical dilemma of air travel itself; for many of us, getting on a plane is likely our most serious ecological offense. “One roundtrip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person,” writes New York Times environment reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal. “The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year; the average European, 10.”

Nearly a decade ago, New York Times writer John Tierney put the impact of flying in terms of recycling plastic bottles. “To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger roundtrip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles” in coach (or up to 100,000 for business or first-class seats, adjusting for the additional space pricier seats take up). So if you’ve permitted yourself the significant upsizing of your carbon footprint that air travel will bring, choose coach. Your impact will be less than twice that of someone in business or first class.

BIKING LJUBLJANA & BEING CRAFTY IN SKOFJA LOKA

It’s been winter and a little cabin fever is setting in.  We had some great sunny but it was also very cold.  I would rather ride my bike when it’s cold than when it’s raining..   There’s a walking tour called THE TRAIL OF REMEMBRANCE that encircles Ljubljana. It’s where the Italian fascist during World War II erected a barbed wire fence around the city.  I contacted WATERMELON BIKE TOURS of Ljubljana to arrange a guided tour, that was a good decision.
After weeks of emailing back and forth he finally finds a day when he’s available.  I text back “it’s -2”!  He’s convinces me it will be OK, so I ride into Ljubljana to meet him.

I’m so glad I hired Tevz to show me the route.  The POT (pot means route) signs didn’t have an arrow on them and I couldn’t really tell which way we should go. Sometimes it’s more efficient for your time and money to hire someone, in this case that was really true. It’s a 25 km ride into Ljubljana and the Trail of Remembrance is 34 km, that’s almost 60 km on one COLD day.  I considered riding my bike back to Skofja Loka, but NO, I was too tired and it was cold.  I can’t wait to attempt the trail  again when there’s some nice warm weather, this summer.

The history of the Skofja Loka region is Handmade goods.  Today we have about 25 crafts people who work out of the DUO Crafts Center, directed & organized by Kati.   I signed up for the felt hat workshop, months ago. We had  only 2 people sign up here, so they had us come to Ljubljana for the class.  I tried to hitchhike in, nope, got on the bus.  The workshop was 4 1/2 hours of standing and working the wool. I was dead tired but luckily, I got a ride home from the women wearing the green hat.  I wear the hat everywhere and with spring coming I wearing even when it’s a little warm!

There was a ceramics exhibit in December, featuring pieces made by the local Handicapped  community.  It’s a super cool program, they not only do ceramics but disassemble old electric meters for recyling and package misc. goods too.  When they offered a ceramic workshop, I couldn’t wait to sign up.  I wanted to learn how they put the intricate & symmetrical pattern on the ceramics.  I found out and it’s lace that is rolled into the clay and then the black glaze is painted on.

We in the process of organizing workshops for creative & active tourist of all ages.  All our local crafts people have signed up to be part of this fantastic project.  If your considering coming to Slovenia and Skofja Loka be sure to plan for a workshop where you can make authentic Slovenia crafts. That you can share with your friends and family or best of all for you!

I’ve had some pain in my leg so I visited a physical therapist and he recommended that I do more walking.  If you’ve read this blog, you know I’m not a huge fan of walking, I’m a biker.  He also recommended that I should walk  with stickers, I painfully took the advice.  I  decided to walk one of my bike routes.  I biked Amsterdam years ago and thought, “I’ve seen Amsterdam.”  Then I parked my bike, Amsterdam  became a whole new city.  I realized then, walking is different  perspective. Some roads don’t allow for 2 cars to pass each other.  One or both of the drivers will take the dirt.  They were “fixing” the roads during my walk.  It took me 3 1/2 hours to walk the route, then I met Natasa at a restaurant.

I’ve been doing lots of different stuff: I went to the travel show in Ljubljana, we got a new Mini-museum in Skofja Loka, it’s part of the castle museum, Starman’s my favorite restaurant is closed for 3 1/2 months for remodeling. There always seems to be a holiday where the kids dress up.  I met with the mayor recently to talk about the growing amount of empty storefronts and the lack of effort to fight the graffiti.


I’ve been working on this post for awhile, everyday I have some great new photos to add.  It’s going to have to be another blog about Skojfa Loka and Ljubljana.   I went to Ljubljana 5 days last week, I went to the International film festival, signed up for a guided tour of Ljubljana.  Used the Bike Share in Ljubljana to ride to the Botanical Garden.

I’ve been twice to Venice, once with Natasa and once alone.  I’ve got some “not so typical” photos.  The first time I didn’t like Venice, but now I feel comfortable being there.
NEXT: VENICE

OK this is it  BYE!

Jeff

RANDOM THOUGHTS: USA, BIKE TRAVEL, PORTLAND, COP21

I get some of my international news from the BBC.  They did a feature story of a U.K. doctor who just spent 6 years bicycling around the world.  I thought I accomplished something biking 7 months across the Mediterranean, 6 years– holy shit!  My blog is the simplest of Blog formats.  CYCLINGTHE6.COM was so professional, easy to navigate and very interesting , so I sent the link to nearly everyone I know.  I had one friend write back and asked:
Hey, Jeff,
Do you miss America yet?

I thought about it for a few minutes, then started typing away.  I wanted to share this with the blog.
Dear Tammy:

Let me see where should I start? I miss the election, namely The Trump Show and the sheep who think he’s great.  I really miss driving on the noisy-rutted roads😬.  There’s always the smell of fresh arsenic in the air in my old neighborhood.  How about the Crazies in Malheur County wasting taxpayers time and money.  I haven’t had to drive a car or be stuck in traffic, I really miss that.  I don’t miss my $600 per month, $5,000 co-pay and expensive  prescriptions health insurance. Instead I have $25 per month health insurance, no co-pay and free prescriptions, that’s killing me here too. I really miss the new marijuana laws (that parts true), yet I voted no.  I almost forgot, I really miss tripping over homeless people while walking downtown or on the esplanade.  My $4000  a year property taxes are now $100 a year, and a 2 tier property tax system that is so broken.  I really miss my business of mowing  grass. I appreciate America continuing to borrow money (the national debt) to insure everyone can live the American dream whether they worked for it or not. 1 in 7 people get food stamps, what a system.  I can’t wait to watch the retirement bomb, America’s solution? Continue to work into your 60’s & 70’s.  I haven’t worked in 3 years and am able to be active while I’m somewhat young!?  The separation of the have’s and have not’s is widening with the 1%er’s owning more and more of America, hence it’s not the land of opportunity that it used to be.  Affordable college is an oxymoron, college is free here (go Bernie).  American’s bashing of Obama and government in general, they don’t realize how good they have it.  I’ve been to 23 countries in the past couple years, count your blessings.

Now for the good parts,  I was lucky enough to have a family with some money and they helped me buy an investment property and thanks to Oregon’s booming economy, I can live comfortably here with the rent money.  I was telling Natasa, America’s great if you can figure out the web of opportunities for retirement.  That’s where you need to hire a professional (if you can afford it) to help you navigate the “do it yourself” retirement.
I’m blessed to have met and married Natasa.  My life has taken a turn for the better, for sure, countries aside.
Thanks for making me write this letter, I’ll probably post it on my Blog.
If you want to visit, we have an AIR B&B.
Thanks for your help with Preserving Oregon’s roads, say hi to Jeff and crew.
Jeff
There’s a lot to be missed about America.   A country with that much influence around the  world needs to be a true leader.  The U.S. government is being held hostage by the right wing Republican Senate.  COP 21, the World Climate Summit in Paris, was a place where America could show itself as a world leader.  My opinion on the “Agreement” on Climate Change, it has no substance.  Governments around the world tax tobacco to discourage use.  A carbon tax on energy is the solution that is needed to discourage over use of fossil fuels. Raising money for the  impending costs associated with Climate Change is imperative.  Climate Change refugees are a reality, as islands slowly succumb to a rising ocean, there needs to be money to help these new refugees.  If at COP21 there was an agreement to raise an energy tax, it would have been blocked by Republicans in America.  When you pay something, you understand the issue a little more.  With no sacrifices, there will basically be no “motivation” to promote: mass transit, alternative energy, biking.  Americans $20 trillion debt is living proof that they are living a life on someone else’s money.
America’s trade deficit in 2015 was $44.5 billion.  They use to blame  the deficit on high imported oil prices.  With record low oil prices the trade deficit has grown 4.5% this past year.  America’s borrowing is fueling a consumption level that is environmentally unsustainable.  America’s attitude of entitlement is also unsustainable, both financially and environmentally.  The consumption economy of “bigger and more” is killing the planet.  China’s latest solution to it’s economic slowdown is to encourage a “new” consumption economy. There’s no considerations from the agreements at COP21, the agreement was a paper tiger.  China’s 1.3 billion people, living like Americans?  The young generation is being so screwed over by the money people who are in power.  Even Warren Buffet, an american investor, thinks Climate Change is nothing to worry about, yea if your 85 years old, like him.
About 3 years into his 6 year cycling trip Dr Stephen Fabes, rode up the California coast.  California has the 8th largest economy in the world, so you would expect to see the best of opportunities in America.  But Stephen’s analysis of opportunity in America is interesting:
The upward mobility in the US that people have historically and rightly been so proud, AKA ‘The American Dream’, has dwindled and comparatively the US is less a land of opportunity than many other developed nations, including most of Europe. If you were born in the seventies in the US and into the lower 5th of the socioeconomic spectrum, your chance of making it into the top two fifths are about 15%, less than other places. For me though, as an outsider, the saddest thing is that people still believe the American dream is a reality mainly I suppose because canny advertisers still promote it and play on the fact that people want to believe it.
I really respect Dr. Stephen Fabes and his bike tour.  Being educated in medicine allowed him to interact and help people he met while biking around the world.  He visited Portland and claimed it was one of his favorite places in America.  He participated in Pedalpalooza and The World Naked Bike Ride., both of these events  help define Portland’s unique Bike Culture.  I wrote about Portland’s Bike Culture HERE.
I had to get this stuff off my mind and into a readable format, so there it is.   I hope you liked it?  I like more to write about biking and travel.  I also wonder into writing about living here in Skofja Loka & Slovenia.  I’ve got a great blog post I’ve been working on about Skofja Loka & Ljubljana.  Natasa and I went to Venice Italy for our honeymoon and it also overlapped with Valentines day,  AAAHHH.  I wanted to give Venice another opportunity to show me what’s so great about it.  Well we had a good time, but I knew there was more I wanted to see.  So when we came home I said I wanted to go spend more time on Murano and the other islands too.  Her response “next year.”  I looked at her and said no I want to go in the next week or so, it’s only a 2 1/2 hour drive.  So the mayor of Skofja Loka cancelled my appointment with him, I saw an opportunity to go and I did.  I was searching for a ride share website and I found one BLABLACar.  I’ll write more about it when I do the  Venice blog post.
I promise fun stories and some great photos of Slovenia and Venice very soon.

Thanks for reading.
Jeff

 

PARIS: COP21,CRITICAL MASS, CLIMATE JUSTICE MARCH

The security is very tight here in Paris.  I’ve been on about 20 airplanes in the last couple years, I’ve never had my luggage inspected like I did after landing in Paris.  There’s a no gathering or protesting restriction in place in Paris.  I’m here for the march, marking the final day of COP21 meetings.
I decided to go visit the COP21 meeting location on my first day in Paris.  I was surprised how little security there was compared to other places I’d visited.

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THERE WERE 196 COUNTRIES BEING REPRESENTED AT COP21

IT TOOK AWHILE, BUT I FOUND IT.

 FINALLY  FOUND THE AMERICAN FLAG, I GAVE UP LOOKING FOR THE SLOVENIAN FLAG (sorry Slovenia!)
I wasn’t able to enter the main event, the passes were given out months ago.  So I walked around the back of the building and discovered where the different environmental groups were set-up.

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                          THERE WERE AS MANY BACKPACK TYPES AS SUITS
There were organizations from around the world, saving the rain forest and it’s indigenous people, lobbying groups for C02 reductions, alternative energy displays and some great environmental art.

 

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                                                                 SPHERE
“Sphere”
is a globe made up of countless bodies of men and women, naked, intertwined with each other. A way of saying that the well-being of the planet depends on all and that we are all connected to it. “This is why we must live in peace,” said the artist, JS Raud

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  THE WORLD IS IN OUR HANDS, IS INSPIRED BY THE EARTH’S FRAGILITY
This fragility is here by symbolized by a women in a half-kneeling position, fighting against the powerlessness and resignation by attempting to rise up with the world that she carries at arm’s length.
Through this display the Peruvian artist Rafael Garcia Miro is inviting us to act together, despite the difficulties, to take care of nature and seek an environmentally friendly consensus.     Rafael Garcia Miro

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THE VEGAN’S WERE BEAUTIFULLY REPRESENTED 

I rented a room in an apartment through AIR B&B.  I’d never done a room share before, but to save a little money I thought I would try it.  We were on the top at the 5th  floor    without an elevator, don’t forget anything!   He didn’t have a proper coffee maker, only the plastic pods, that he didn’t show me how to use.  I bought coffee on the streets of Paris, 4.10 euro per cup (no refills) ($4.50).
I got the Velib app (bike share) for my phone and started my first couple days of biking around Paris before the Climate Change March.  My host told me that people used the Velib bikes to ride “downhill” to town and take the metro home.  So there was never a bike in the bike rack by my house.
The Velib bike share was great, once I finally found a bike.  I’ve been to Paris 4 times but never up the Eiffel Tower.  I watched the weather and Wed. was the sunny day, here I come.  The best thing about the Velib bike share is the ability to drop off the bike and explore Paris by foot.  (Click on Photos for FULL viewing)


          While biking near the Eiffel Tower, I met some people being interviewed, so I hung around and found out where the pre-march meeting was.  They were several orientations during the day, so I started out early, for that endless search for a bicycle near my apartment. At the march orientation meeting, it was very inspiring  to be surrounded by people who had the same values and goals as me.

They collect bikes and bring them (hopefully) to my neighborhood, we need some.

During the orientation I found out where the bicyclists were meeting for the Critical Mass Ride to meet the main march.  On my way I spotted the memorial to mark the remembrance of the Paris shooting victims.  I spotted about 20 cyclist riding in the same direction, with flags and signs, my peeps.  I later learned they were the group that rode from London to Paris.  We rode together to the meeting point.  Bicycles are so awesome!


I was joking with someone who had the same rental bike as me.  I told her “nice bike, where did you get it?”  her response “I found it on the street”  I had a great time with everyone I met.
I had just one day more after the march.  Of course I rode around Paris some more, the weather was great.  I got to test ride the new Velib E-Bikes, my kinda city.  I really enjoy riding around, sometimes aimlessly you never know what you’ll find.  Then I came across the Philharmonie DE Paris (more pictures), It was amazingly beautiful, I didn’t see it on any tourist maps.

The new Paris E-Bike requires you have your own battery, weighs maybe 1 kilo.  You rent the bike, slip in your battery and off you go, it’s more of an assist than an actual “pedal free” ride.  But if it encourages more people to ride-awesome.
The French bathroom etiquette is a bit much to be desired.  First, carry your own toilet paper wherever you go, there will likely be none in the bathroom.  Most bathrooms are in a marginal state of cleanliness, bring extra toilet paper.  That’s something I really respect about Slovenia, no matter where you are, the bathrooms and supplies are a constant-excellent.  We hiked a few days ago to this abandoned picnic area, I checked the outhouse, it had toilet paper in it, see what I mean.

I went to the Madonna show in Paris too.  I was surrounded by mostly gay male couples.  I didn’t realize she had such a diverse following.  When she asked who wanted to marry her as she threw a boutique, the gay guy next to me screamed “I DO”.  I couldn’t  help wishing him good luck, he said, “I really want to.”  It was a good time had by all.

Madonna visited Portland too, I had read the review and wished I had gone.  I felt lucky to see her in Paris, she said 1/2 her crew was from Paris and she loved Paris.  She did an impromptu concert at the memorial after the show.
Natasa and I are going to Venice for 4 days, it’s our 1 year anniversary celebration.  The first time I was in Venice, I wan’t particularly impressed, in fact it was enough of Italy for me.  I headed to Slovenia instead, that turned out to be a life changing decision.
Thanks for Reading (would the person who reads from Myanmar please send me an email and tell me about themselves, thanks)
Jeff

NEXT: EITHER VENICE OR SOME GREAT PHOTOS AND STUFF ABOUT SKOFJA LOKA & A BIKE TOUR AROUND LJUBLJANA in -2 c weather.

PARIS

BRISTOL, UK “GREEN CAPTIAL” OF EUROPE and MORE ADVENTURES

We have  busy lives here in Skofja Loka,  I was in Bristol Dec. 3-7, 2015, I’m just now getting this blog post together. Saturday I took a felting workshop in Ljubljana. This time I made a wool felt hat.  it was 4.5 hours of standing and working the wool, (felting!).  It killed me!
                                                                     BRISTOL

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ART FROM BRISTOL’S GREEN CAPITAL OF EUROPE AWARD 2015 (great piece)

At first I was just coming to Bristol to see Courtney Barnett.  When I started doing some research I discovered Bristol was similar to Portland in many ways.  They have approximately the same populations, Bristol 440,000 Portland 610,000.  Bike lanes, great healthy restaurants, mass transit and an active political scene.
I made my hostel reservations 6 weeks before I arrived.  I requested  a 6 share room, they said no problem.  When I arrived I ended up in a 14 share room.  I was the only traveler at the hostel, everyone else was living here. When I was in Spain the official  government policy was for the young people to leave and go work in another country.  Many took the advice, the hostel was filled with people mostly from Spain and France.  I met a Spanish kid, 26 years old (I’m 60), who had a dish washing job and was super happy about it.  I hope people appreciate what they have.  The European youth unemployment is high, that makes the U.K. an attractive destination, for young people trying to find their way.  The UK set a limit of 120,00 immigrants a year, instead  330,000 moved in.

                                    BRISTOL PHOTOS FROM MY FIRST COUPLE DAYS

 
After making all my reservations, plane, hotel, trains I needed a ticket for Courtney Barnett, sold out!  I had to buy an online scalper ticket, I hate those guys, but thanks.  The British Parliament was debating bombing Syria while I was in the U.K.  The first night in Bristol there  was a demonstration against the war.
I prefer to travel using my bicycle, but not in the winter.  I think winter travel is some of the best travel when using public transportation to get around.  There are no lines anywhere: restaurants, museums, tourist attractions and most accommodation is discounted too.  I just bring my warm clothes and  rent a bike as the weather permits.  The Bristol bike rentals weren’t operating, (a bad thing about winter travel) so my only option was an E-Bike-I was in Heaven.  I love the E-bike.
I first rode to the CLIFTON SUSPENSION BRIDGE which opened in 1864.  It was straight up hill, no problem, I gotta E-Bike.  Then to the train station and the start of the bike path to Bath, (the city!).  At the train station was a mobile bike repair van/shop, drop off your bike on the way to work and pick it up on the way home, great business model.
                                                    BRISTOL to BATH BIKE PATH

The 11 mile path to Bath was great, no cars, none.  There were bridges whenever there was a road crossing.  The English Ivy is winning, it’s everywhere.  I needed more time in Bath, I tried to get the bike rental shop guy to open sooner than 10, nope.

I walked around Bristol too, shock.  I read where the best fish and chips were, so I walked there.  It took me about 45 minutes, I couldn’t wait to sit down and eat, it was only takeaway-no seats.  I ate in on a brick wall in front of someones house, it was good and greasy.

There was some good bike stuff going on.  There was ROLL FOR THE SOUL CAFE 2 blocks from the Hostel.

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POSTER FROM ROLL FOR THE SOUL CAFE

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BRADLEY WIGGINS FROM THE UK WON THE 2012 TOUR DE FRANCE

Walking around my first night I ran into TEMPLE CYCLE’S Pop-up shop. He had beautifully  handcrafted bicycles and accessories.  The accessories is what really caught my attention.  In Europe you find yourself carrying your bike up stairs to your apartment or at the train station.  Be sure to check his website for some cool accessories for your bike.

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TEMPLE BIKE WITH LOTS OF LEATHER ACCESSORIES

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HELP CARRYING YOUR BIKE UP STAIRS

                                             MEANWHILE BACK IN SLOVENIA
LJUBLJANA
is the European Green Capital for 2016.   From being a city which was previously dominated by car transport the focus is now on public transport and on pedestrian and cycling networks.  Three quarters of the entire territory of Ljubljana are green areas. These areas include contiguous aquatic, forest and agricultural areas.
Ljubljana has implemented numerous urban green measures over the past decade including the planting of more than 2,000 trees, the building of five new parks and revitalization of the embankments of the River Sava.  In addition, in 2010 the Slovenian city declared 1,400 ha of the territory as forest of special purpose in being valuable as a CO2 sink. (cut and pasted ;))
Hey America did you see that?  Ljubljana recognizes trees are worth more than just money, they help the planet breathe.
Some things here in Slovenia seem bureaucratic, compared to America, but the environmental foresight is something I really respect.  We need America to start adopting some things that are done here in Slovenia.  No clear-cutting forest only selective harvest.  Better for wildlife and water quality.  They mow the trees down in America, replant them like corn and spray chemicals to prevent anything else from growing.  It poisons nearby streams and people, enough said.
I’m so happy here with Natasa and living in Skofja Loka, Slovenia.  I feel like I’ve been re-born.
Thanks for Reading (& commenting)
Jeff

NEXT: PARIS CRITICAL MASS CLIMATE RIDE, FINALLY WENT TO THE TOP OF THE EIFFEL TOWER, COP21,  MADONNA CONCERT, CLIMATE MARCH/PROTEST

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AMERICA NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE E-BIKES PLAY IN TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS

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CALIFORNIA FRIENDS VISIT SKOFJA LOKA and MORE EVENTS

I met Russ when he married my high school sweetheart, Jody.  Jody passed away from cancer over 10 years ago.  We still kept in touch over the years.    Russ & Jill still live in California and  over the years I stopped by on my many bicycle trips down the California coast.  He suggested I meet them on his annual Italian vacation.  I suggested they try something new, come visit us in Slovenia.  So they came to visit us here in little Skofja Loka.  So this is that visit.

The best traditional Slovenian food in Skofja Loka is Starman’s, I try to take all my guest here.

                RUSS FIT’S RIGHT IN, ENJOYING LOCAL SLOVENIAN WINE

Natasa had to work so I agreed to be the tour guide to Lake Bled, Vintgar and the Bee museum (I’ve been wanting to go here).  I’ve been in Slovenia 2 years now and  there’s still so much  that I haven’t seen.
We start early with a breakfast buffet overlooking Lake Bled & the Castle, visit the local crafts fair, walked  up to the castle and then hike the gorge at Vintgar.

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Beehive painting, which was most prolific between 1820 and 1880, started to die away with transition into 20th century.  Painting on the frontal panels of bee hives is a particularity of Slovenian Alpine region and is an indispensable part of Slovenian folk art. The host took us on a private guided tour of the museum, I love Slovenia!
 MUSEUM WEBSITE  AND MORE IMAGES OF BEE DOORS HERE

Natasa got a few days off, so the four of us went to Ljubljana one day and the next day we drove around Mt. Triglav, through the Soca Valley.

I checked about getting a tour guide to take us around, $50 hr.  So I bought the $2 book and biked the tour of the Art Nouveau buildings in Ljubljana.  Jill wanted to visit the Joze Plecnik museum, it had been closed for 2 years for remodeling and  had only been open a week.  Joze Plecnik designed many of the buildings, markets, and bridges all around Ljubljana.  It was cool to go through his house.  His life was very similar to that of architect  Gaudi: single, religious and lived a simple life.  Joze Plecnik use to use his drawing pencils until they were so small he could no longer hold them.


Doing the pre-tour of the Art Nouveau was somewhat empowering.  I knew where to go and what features to point out to my guests.

I met the head of Tourism for Slovenia, she told me the Soca Valley is the most beautiful part of Slovenia.  I’m not sure which is my favorite part of Slovenia, but having biked the Soca Valley I can tell you, it is very beautiful.
We re-visited camp Kamne where Natasa and I met. We drive over the Julian alps on our way through the Soca Valley.  We visit the World War I museum in Kobarid.

Russ and Jill stayed several days in Skofja Loka and said they can’t wait to come back.  When Jill got back she wrote about her trip that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Often-overlooked Slovenia worth a trip

Updated 7:08 pm, Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why we went: We have an American friend who recently moved to Slovenia. This often overlooked country has much to offer, with abundant natural beauty and a lovely capital city, Ljubljana.

Don’t miss: The Skocjan Caves in Slovenia’s Karst region are absolutely incredible. The caves, on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites, comprise one of the world’s largest underground river canyons.

Don’t bother: Touring the museums in Ljubljana. Your time is better spent strolling the town center and exploring the interesting squares and architectural highlights, including the Art Nouveau buildings and Joze Plecnik’s many contributions to the city.

Coolest souvenir: Hand-painted replicas of beehive front boards that reflect an important part of Slovenia’s tradition of beekeeping and that are the visual, cultural equivalent of folk songs, poetry and fairy tales.

Worth a splurge: A day or overnight trip to Piran, a picturesque town situated on the southern tip of Slovenia on the Adriatic coast.

Wish we’d packed: More waterproof hiking clothes. Slovenia gets lots of rain throughout the year, as evidenced by its lush landscape and abundant rivers and lakes.

The Beatles Tribute Band was great, sharing love songs holding Natasa’s hand while they sang “I want to hold your hand” priceless.  I was watching the young people lip syncing the Beatles  songs, our generation won’t be forgotten.  The Dreams Band covered the Allman Brothers Band songs, I was living the dream-I knew every song.

Thanks for reading, if you like this blog please comment.

Jeff

NEXT: BRISTOL, UK, EUROPE’S 2015 GREEN CAPITAL AWARD WINNER, HANDMADE BIKES, E-BIKE ADVENTURE, YOUNG PEOPLE FROM AROUND EUROPE COME TO THE UK TO WORK. (promise)

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