I’m cycling as fast as I can with my excitement building as it does getting so close to a new country. It’s early evening and I’m cycling out of my last town of Italy. I know the direction that Slovenia, my next country lies, but not having a map is proving difficult with Trieste’s one way systems and ring roads. Especially as the angry rush hour traffic matches the passions of the Italian people. I know I’ve accidently cycled onto a motorway with the dangerous speed of the cars passing me by and the aggressive honking of horns. The road is built into the air, above the roads at ground level. There is a concrete barrier running alongside me and I have no way to get off. The cars are much faster than on the Swiss motorway I had cycled on. I just want to get off but I have no option other than to continue cycling. I hear the siren and turn to see the flashing lights of an Italian police car with very angry looking policemen staring out. I keep repeating, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”. They drive beside me protecting me from the speeding cars passing by. I am absolutely mortified. We have quite some way to go until the next exit, my face is scarlet. The policemen begin waving at me to leave the motorway. As if I need encouragement. Once off the slip road, the police start to shout out the window but stop when they see I’ve burst out crying and am sobbing thank you’s over and over. Their faces soften and they say goodbye, driving off.
It’s getting dark, I’m disorientated and still shook up from my motorway police escort. I’m pedalling down side roads to see if I can spot anywhere to camp. Still on the outskirts of town I’m faced with run down housing schemes and I don’t feel safe. I continue cycling. It gets dark. I’ve had enough. For the second time this day, I burst out crying. Out of frustration. My tears last a few minutes then I give myself a stern talking to. My tears are not going to solve anything. I begin to cycle again when I notice lights shining through trees in the darkness. I walk my bike over and find a campervan park up lane.
I am handed a beer from the family of the first campervan I arrive too and I’m elated with happiness. A stark contrast to just minutes before. I pitch my tent next to their van. It’s not the best spot on offer and I find it difficult pitching in stones but the family are aware I’m here so won’t reverse over me in the morning. The family are a young couple with a small girl. They use their annual leave to pack up the campervan and travel all over Europe. Their life choices sound fantastic and I file a thought note to self that if I ever live in a home again, I will have a camper van in the driveway. We enjoy breakfast together then go our separate ways. I’m still in touch with this family to this day.
It’s the last hill in Italy I’ve left to cycle. Up the top I cross into Slovenia. I need to pee so I stop at the side of the road and duck behind some bushes. I have an unfortunate accident and pee on my sandals. So there I am cycling into Slovenia with pee soaked feet. I don’t care, I’m descending into Kozina singing at the top of my voice, “I’m in the mood for dancing; romancing”. Because us cycle tourers sing out loud a lot. A school memory pops into my head of the other kids calling me “Pishy Ishy”. An unfortunate consequence of having the nickname Ishy, which was short for Ishbel. Now I can confirm they were right. At age 33, Pishy Ishy I am.
Slovenia is mighty alpine and beautiful and I’m disappointed it only takes me 2 hours to cycle across into Croatia.