After having slept fitfully and longer than the last days, we head down to our hotel’s breakfast room since today we’re only covering 200km to get to our family meeting in southern Styria and have some time to spare.
A very nice choice of food is to be expected with the type of hotel we’ve chosen – however, the coffee machine was one of the automatic and horrible kind – just have a look at the user interface!
Our day starts cold, humid and very gray … and with a full battery – always a nice feeling to know that we could drive up to 460km on this charge 🙂
After just 90 minutes, the fog makes way for another beautiful deep-blue sky and warm sun as we drive into rural northern Slovenia.
Quickly after leaving urban Ljubljana, rural Slovenia greets us with perfect roads (thanks to EU subsidies, which are prominently displayed beside each new stretch of road), well-kept and renovated houses and an overall cuteness which is difficult to put into words. It’s like Switzerland with less rules and more smiles.
Northern Slovenia also means many, many hills … and we’re looking forward to them. One of the best parts of driving from hill to hill are surprising and unexpected views.
Let’s start climbing! Our single lane road snakes its way up the hill and takes us through small farm villages before rewarding us with beautiful views.
Having not really had any proper coffee for breakfast, I decide to stop at a local petrol station (aptly called PETROL) to get myself a local energy drink – all parking spots were taken, so I had to park TW560 beside a pump. What a strange image!
We head further northwards into the hills, still sticking to our very small single lane roads – no traffic, just one beautiful hill after another for us.
With an open canopy, the sun shining on our faces we push on, quietly and relaxed. The levels of relaxation we’re reaching are hard to describe.
We climb higher and higher, our views getting better by the minute. Uncanny similarities to certain places in the Swiss Alps are everywhere…except that there are no 2000m+ mountains to be seen, even with 150+km visibility.
Our climb continues. We reach the end of European subsidy money…and with the money gone, the tarmac is gone, too.
We’re already at 1300m altitude and we’re still climbing. Our highest point for today will be a well-known Slovenian ski resort called Rogla.
Our arrival in Rogla is somewhat underwhelming. No peak as we’re used to coming from Switzerland. The mountain top is completely flat! A few lone ski-lifts line what must be very flat pistes in winter. We don’t stay for lunch or a drink, even if a few places are open.
The drive down the hill and 1300m lower was the worst stretch of road we encountered on all our trip – even marked as an official B-road – it had no tarmac and was heavily washboarded. 13km of this hell, never faster than 15km/h – lasted a lifetime. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an alternate road we could have taken – we had ventured too far out and this was the only road going towards where we wanted to go. Backtracking and taking another route would have meant a 2-3 hour detour.
We made it…eventually and crossed into Austria at a place called Sveti Duh, which made us chuckle.
From here we’re going to get a lot of energy back into our batteries – 1000m -> 200m …and some extremely nice views of Southern Styria – see for yourself:
Our last kilometres are a symphony of colours and light. If you’ve never been to Styria in autumn, you definitely should consider adding this beautiful region of Austria to your bucket list.
As in northern Slovenia, Southern Styria is predominantly hilly. Most of the hills are covered in vineyards – wineries beckon every few kilometres. As mentioned before on this blog, Styrian whites are very drinkable…coupled with Buschenschank-culture this is part of the reason my family has continued coming back here for the last 12 years.
Our place is surrounded by vineyards and the owners have their own winery. Wine quality has risen continuously throughout the region since the 1985 glycol scandal as quality over quantity was the only way to survive. 30 years later, even small wineries produce very high quality wines which are destined for local and national consumption and are rarely available anywhere else – even if these wines could easily stand up against international wines. (Another reason you should come here soon)
We park, take our stuff inside and say hello the winery owners before just heading out and taking in the views. Incredibly vivid colours and warm sunlight.
A hour later my wife and eldest daughter arrive. My youngest flew to Austria on her own a week ago and will be arriving tomorrow. (Ah. How time flies – my youngest daughter flies on her own to Austria after deciding for herself that she wanted to spend more time there as she really loves Austria and even completely switches over to the local Upper-Austrian dialect when she’s with my uncle and their friends.)
We decide to start this year’s Austrian week by walking up to a very small place all the way up the next hill with very nice views and have a few drinks called Sturm. (Wine still fermenting with suspended yeast)
We sit at our Buschenschank and enjoy the exceptional view with a few glasses of Sturm.
Our next days will consist of us driving from winery to winery, Buschenschnank to Buschenschank and to some special events we organized as a group in advance. TW560 usually ferries one of our younger Austrian family members for them to experience electric mobility as it should be: light, nimble and sustainable. Besides TW560 our extended family already has one more EV to boast about: A R90 Zoe which is being used for daily commutes after talking about electric mobility for about 3 years, finally this part of our family has taken the plunge…and they are very happy with their Zoe!