Sunday, June 5th, 2022
Distance ridden 289 kilometres
As usual, I woke up very early and so I went for a walk around the town whilst it was still (relatively) cool. After the crowded mayhem of the previous day and evening, the streets were largely deserted. Electric vehicles crept here and there, collecting the detritus of the partying of the previous night and delivering fresh bread and rolls to the various riverside cafes. In the small square in front of the Triple Bridge is a statue of France Prešeren, Slovenia’s most famous poet (it is a very short list).
Nearby, a young tourist slept peacefully on a bench. Her head was on her rucksack and her iPhone was laying on her stomach. It saddens me to say she could not have done that safely in Prague.
I walked a big loop, down the banks of the Ljubljanica River and then back up again. When I passed the restaurant where we had dined at such length the previous evening, I was relieved to note that even the couples who arrived after we did were now gone – but I did wonder how long before I got there that they had departed …
I took a path close to the water and, at one point, I disturbed a huge rat that was bigger than many cats I have seen. it was feasting upon a piece of discarded pizza. Yuk. It was extremely peaceful and, by the time I arrived back at the Triple Bridge, the dozing tourist had gone.
I arrived back in our room just in time to make Lucie her early morning coffee.
We had a good breakfast containing all the things a major hotel chain can offer, including bacon and egg (which got me a “look” from Lucie).
Then, we left the hotel and headed for Italy. From the outskirts of Ljubljana, we initially started on the highway, but this was crowded and there was a lot of stopping and starting which quickly became boring. In the knowledge that we had, at least in theory, plenty of time, we took an exit and played with our SatNav, reprogramming the navigation to “winding roads“. Well, we certainly got what we ordered and some VERY winding roads were electronically located for us to follow. I suppose that this particular setting is supposed to appeal to sport bikes, but the poor surface, hairpin bends and preponderance of gravel on corners would have been a nightmare on any bike, let alone a well laden Harley-Davidson designed principally for touring. It WAS picturesque, but it WAS NOT fun. Even moving along I was sweating and it was very hard work on the arms. After an hour, we had only covered about 35 kilometres and I felt exhausted.
Even passing through a remote village called Braník, which had the same name as a suburb of Prague, scarcely raised a smile !
Finally, we came to a T-junction where the navigation instructied me to go right. I looked at Lucie, Lucie looked at me – and it was obvious that we had both decided that some further reprogramming was again in order. We chose the “Shortest/No Motorways” setting and this has turned out, so far, to give us much more of the type of riding we most like to do. We were now instructed to go left instead of right and a nice sweeping road led us through the rural districts without making detours to remote settlements.
We had obviously climbed up pretty high during our “winding” phase because when we finally spied the sea in the distance, it was very much below us and still quite a distance away. There were, as a consequence, some long downhill stretches. When we tour, I always try and keep the speed below 100 kph and anyone who knows me will realise this means we never exceed that figure, even on highways. We both like it and it makes for relaxed riding. Near the top of a rare upward incline, we passed two cyclists toiling in the heat. Moments later, as we were basically rolling downhill again, at exactly 100 kph (I am a Virgo !), they appeared in my mirrors – and they were closing fast ! The road was wide and deserted, so I pulled out to the middle and they not only flashed past, but they also rapidly became small specks in the distance. Those guys must have been doing well over 120 kph !! How they got around some of the corners at that speed and on such tiny tyres, I cannot imagine, but we did not see them again …. Maybe they were in a ditch and we passed them without noticing !
The temperature continued to rise dramatically and when we finally crossed, almost imperceptibly apart from the sign, into Italy and got down to sea-level, we were already pretty cooked.
We had planned to eat in the seaside town of Duino, which was also signposted with the Slovene name of Děvín, because it seemed to have a nice castle. We parked across the road from the castle and decided to have lunch before we looked around it. There were two restaurants but, of course, there was no free table in either of them. However in the second one, Albergo Ristorante al Pescatore (Frazione Duino, 69, 34011 Duino TS, Italy), the waiter set us a table especially. That sort of committed us and although we did eventually enjoy a very nice lunch consisting of a shared plate of prosciutto with watermelon, followed by a very nice shared plate of mixed seafood from the grill (which was called the “fish mix” on the menu), the service was glacially slow and it took over two hours ……
This had all eaten severely into our day. We contented ourselves with a quick look at the castle from its quaint gatehouse where young swallows regarded us from flimsy mud nests high above our heads and then we hit the road again. We were in no great hurry but, as almost every day, rain was expected in the evening and we did not want to catch it along the way.
We climbed into the foothills of the Dolomites and arrived at Lago di Santa Croce in beautiful weather, but the large lake still looked, from a distance, scarily cold.
Thanks to the SatNav, we easily found our accommodation in the small village of Puos d’Alpago which was about 2 kilometres from the lake shore. The hotel was styled the Locanda san Lorenzo (Via General Cantore, 2, 32015 Puos d’Alpago BL, Italy) and was an old house in very traditional style. It was nicely restored and beautifully presented, but it still looked like something out of an old, Italian, movie.
Lucie had only booked the Locanda the day before, via the good offices of Booking.Com. She had primarily chosen it because the listing said it had an in-house restaurant so that, in the event of heavy rain, we would not need to go far to eat. She mentioned that she thought one of the reviews had mention a Michelin Star – and that turned out to be the truth – a notice beside the entrance proudly recorded that such an accolade had indeed been awarded in 2021.
Our room was very pleasant, very comfortable, pleasantly “themed“and with a good view of the scenery.
Lucie and I are not exactly plebs, but neither of us had ever eaten in a Michelin Restaurant and, truth be told, I had never really expected to. It is not a question of money, more of the type of people we, perhaps erroneously, perceived did eat in places such as that. I had always seen it as a bit of a snobbish thing that I did not really want to be a part of – but it was obvious that, despite our “five days in the saddle” appearance, the staff were not perturbed and it was assumed we would eat there. We did not even need to book a table.
Before dinner we worked up an appetite by walking the comparatively short distance back to the lake and then returning via the raised embankment beside the Torrente Tesa river that flowed from the mountains behind the Locanda and emptied into the lake. In truth, the “torrent” aspect of the name probably only applies when the snow melts because a small stream meandered across a very wide bed that implied there ARE times when it would be quite an impressive sight.
After our experience in the aspiring restaurant in Ljubljana the previous evening, we approached our upcoming treat with a little circumspection. I will say, straight away, that these concerns were totally unnecessary.
The staff of the Locanda had it, as they say, “down“. Despite the fact that, compared with the other clientele, we might have appeared a little “down-market” we were treated exactly the same way as the other diners. We were given a full description, in English, of what each of the courses, from the original amuse-bouche all the way to the dessert, contained, including the sourcing of the key ingredients. The service was beautifully paced, efficient and delivered with style – the restaurant of the previous evening could have learned a lot, just by watching ! The staff also coped admirably when, having started our meals upon the terrace, we diners were all obliged to move inside when a veritable deluge did occur. Perhaps though, that has happened before.
We retired to our beds both full and content.
Because this site is primarily about motorcycle travel and not about dining, I have described the meal, in full, on the next post.
Feel free to skip it – or to read it and feel hungry.