|The Slovenian-Hungarian border.|
|A flat stretch of Hungarian road.|
Passing through many small villages along the way, I soon reached Ptuj, reputedly Slovenia’s oldest town and home to approximately 20,000 inhabitants. Boasting a large castle, colourful flags and an influx of traffic, it takes no time at all to realise you’ve reached a place of some significance. Beginning life as a Roman military outpost along the Drava River, the town has a decided medieval flavour about it, and rivals Ljubljana in historical importance.
Nevertheless, as scenic and culturally rich as it is today, Ptuj didn’t always have it so good; certainly for Slovenians anyway. Despite a Slovenian majority in the surrounding villages, the town comprised of predominantly German-speaking people until World War I. While their number gradually declined, steadily replaced by Slovenians until early 1941, the invasion of Yugoslavia by Nazi Germany changed things dramatically. With the town’s occupation, the Slovenian population was dispossessed and deported. It wasn’t until the war’s end in 1945 that stability was restored.
Ironically, and most would say justly, Ptuj today is populated almost completely by Slovenians.
|A local's solution to accidents on a very steep switchback.|
Leaving the 432 from Ptuj, it was little more than a two-hour ride to our accommodation at Rogaška Slatina, which is only a handful of kilometres from the Croatian border. With Slovenia being so small in area – less than 21,000 square kilometres – it’s a matter of time before you find yourself along the border of one country or another.
Residing in the foothills of the Macelj range, Rogaška Slatina is Slovenia’s oldest and largest spa town. According to lonely planet, its mineral water contains the largest amount of magnesium found in the world. It supposedly eliminates stress, aids digestion and encourages weight loss. Then again, so does riding a bike, though I guess drinking a glass of the local brew each day doesn’t leave you with a dose of sore buttocks or saddle rash.
|Our accommodation at Tourist Farm Marjanca.|