Maribor

After another bowl of muesli I expressed my gratitude, shook hands and was on my way.  The plan was to head over to the east side of the country, to the town of Maribor.  I didn’t know much about what was there, but I figured that it was going to round out my Slovenia experience nicely.

The train took a couple hours and I arrived before noon.  The first thing I saw upon leaving the station was a big hill, covered by a vineyard and topped with a small chapel.  This was very inviting, so I just started walking towards it until I found the path that went up to the top.  I helped myself to just a couple of the grapes too.

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The footpath had been really well developed but I deviated from it a bit to take a steeper, shorter route.  With my backpack weighing me down, this very nearly killed me, but I did make it.  There was once a massive castle up on the hill, but wooden structures at high altitude plus lightning really don’t mix well.  I took a while to just soak in the nice view.

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After twenty minutes I returned to town level to walk around.  This town a free WiFi everywhere and also some very helpful tourism kiosks that got me sorted.  There weren’t that many things to do here, but the one that I couldn’t miss was the oldest vine in the world.

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This 400 year old plant become the symbol of the town and the grapes that it produces are turned to wine and given as gifts to visiting dignitaries, like Bill Clinton and the Emperor of Japan.  There was a small museum about the vine and also the rich tradition of wine production in this area.

For a few euros, I was able to do a wine tasting that featured some of the local specialties.  95% of the wine produced here are Rieslings, which suit the tastes of my not so wino mother.  I had a variety of sweet and dry samples and also one more on the house.  She explained that the quality if the last one was derived from the petroleum taste.  It was indeed a defined flavor, but far from one that I could develop a snobbery about.

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I spent a bit of time walking along the river and through the town after that. There weren’t a whole lot of monuments and such to see, so the rest of my afternoon was pretty relaxed.  This was a wind rattle, which the region is famous for.  When the wind blows, the sound it makes keeps the birds away from the grapes.

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From Maribor there was a direct train back to Vienna.  I was initially planning to go on to my next country that same day, but realized there was little incentive for doing that.  I couldn’t be bothered to walk around a new city at night to find a place to stay, especially when I already knew where the RuthenSteiner was located.  Going back somewhere familiar is always nice, as was the opportunity to get  three more slices of Okay Pizza. 

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