Holy dang what a day! Definitely has been my favorite yet :) Hungary for breakfast, Slovenia for lunch, and Croatia for dinner!
We started off the day on a beautiful bike path, where we passed many runners and bikers getting their early morning exercise (whoop whoop!). There was a beautiful lake that I stopped by for a little just taking it in and feeling the breeze from the trees, lucky to be surrounded by this nature. We went on an uphill climb that was definitely worth it because it now put us at the top of the wine vineyards that we had passed in the previous days and gave us an absolutely beautiful view of Hungary going into Slovenia.
We then approached the Vinarium Tower in Lendava, Slovenia around lunchtime and saw a Trieste plaque right up ahead! I ended up getting Gibanica for lunch, which is a Slovenian dessert that had layers of apples, walnuts, poppy seeds, cottage cheese, and cream (tryna hit all the food groups you know?). But the real treat during lunch was a group of Slovenians who were playing the accordion, tambourine, and 2 Slovenian instruments I did not recognize. As I approached to capture this music on film, Theresa took my hand to dance along and the group went wild! They continued playing music, and naturally I invited one of the older men to dance, and soon, we were a large circle dancing, singing, drinking wine and eating bread. One of the women took me dancing which ended up being a very fast spin, and I did some polka with another man! The musicians played Slovenian and Croatian music, but also, perhaps for my sake, they also played "When the Saints go Marching" and "Yellow Submarine." It was seriously such a random period filled with music and dancing (and selfies pictured below) before we said Adio, and headed our separate ways. What a time to be alive walking around with portable music!
After vowing to myself I would aspire to their level of merriment and spiritedness when I'm older, we continued through Slovenia, walking along roads in the city, seeing bigger supermarkets after a few days of smaller towns! Theresa and I talked about going out and just doing things without letting fear hold you back, and I shared the saga that involves Nature-G (s/o to this amazing human 😉). Before long, we came to the Croatian border, and because Croatia is in the EU but is not part of the Schengen Agreement, their borders are not open, so unlike crossing from Hungary to Austria and back, we got stamps in our passport and stepped into a new country!
We got some Krona at a bank and got some good ole snacks at the supermarket! Here, I departed with the group, as they decided to take a taxi to the end, and either my stubbornness, drive, or stupidity (you decide) had me continue on the last leg through some forests, some nettles, a cute town, cornfields, and getting lost...many times *sigh*. (I was actually very frustrated because some of the directions were not clear, but hopefully that will be fixed for the other walkers!)
BUT I made it for day 8! OUR accommodation, which is listed as a paintball center, actually has us staying in this beautiful hotel, where an all inclusive spa is included! Unfortunately, it closed at 8 PM, which was not long after I arrived, so instead, I went to the pub with the others and got an amazing pizza -- dinner in Croatia! During dinner, we met Robert, a peacewalker from Seattle, who unfortunately was not continuing on because his friend and walking partner had a family emergency. We got to chat over dinner and found out that people who travel truly have 3 degrees of separation!
Oftentimes, a week into traveling can be the tough point, but today was a great turn around where both scenery and countries changed. Excited to see what Croatia will bring, and crazy to think that: one week done and one week closer to Trieste!! AHH!! And until then, since I did not get to swim, I am going to take a bath and let my body relax :)
UPDATE: We just got news that Donal, who was originally in our group, but couldn't come because he had gotten pneumonia, is going to fly in and join us on the 14th!!!!! He has walked the EPW 3 times, and he is a superstar--SO unbelievably excited to meet him!!