DAY 20 and DAY 21

Keszthely –> Maribor –> Ljubljana

27th – 28th September


The hills are alive with the sound of Bhara-a-a-tt shou-tinggggg.

We did eventually see some people in Keszthely, but unfortunately they weren’t too pleased to see us. We were packing the car after taking some photographs of Festetics Palace when we heard a gaggle of loud Hungarian women walking towards where we were parked. At first Bharat thought they were excited about our colourful, three-wheeled vehicle, but their hostility soon became apparent as they started shoo-ing us away in Hungarian and jabbing their fingers at the “Privat” sign. Given our host owned the entire “Privat parking lot”, we felt like the joke was on them, but their persistent obstruction meant we had to ring our landlord to diffuse the situation. By this point Bharat was loudly telling the ringleader to be quiet and Rachel was busy rummaging for the Hungarian press release to see if that would help. It didn’t. Who knows what was said in Hungarian, but eventually the troublemakers departed but only after our host had rung his lawyer! What a palaver.

Mid-way through this saga Amy and James had snuck off to see if Lake Balaton was worth a visit. It was like walking back in time, the shoreline had quaint old lake houses and piers with wooden changing booths. It was hard to tell whether it was a place you’d want to spend more time, but as we were needing to get on the road it didn’t really matter – so we took a few photos and moved on.


10km over the border into Slovenia and everything had changed. We had roads with bends, roads without potholes, people who waved and honked at us, much prettier villages and no trucks; in short, everything was better. We took some little back roads due to a blocked road ahead which took us up steep tracks across the Slovenian hills which was stunningly beautiful and eventually we arrived in Maribor.

Maribor is the second biggest city in Slovenia, although none of us had heard of it, and we were very pleasantly surprised. As a treat, Bharat had booked an apartment right in the centre and we were very much looking forward to this as normally we’re well over an hour’s walk away from anything worth seeing. Sadly, this was too good to be true as this particular flat had an overpowering stench of sewage emanating from the kitchen plumbing… We managed to squeeze in a trip to see the oldest vine in the world (Maribor Pohorje) that still produces fruit at over 450 years old!

The next day the sun was shining, everyone was in high spirits, and after a beautiful back country drive the day before everyone was keen to try and wiggle our way to Ljubljana through the Pohorje Hills. As soon as we started the climb into the forests we moved from tarmac to dirt tracks and passed ski resorts, viewpoints, rivers and waterfalls all without seeing another vehicle. With potholes and rocks on the road the tuk tuk and Fiat were weaving across it to try and avoid damaging the tyres/undercarriage of the vehicles. The sun was very bright and it was often impossible to see. Near to the summit of the mountain Amy remarked to Rachel how she had driven the support car “impeccably” in such conditions. No word of a lie, 2 seconds later Amy had managed to drive the Fiat into the ditch. The bottom of the Fiat crunched and scraped its way into the gully and eventually it ground to a halt at a 45 degree angle, with one wheel in the air and two wheels a meter below the road in the ditch. Trust us when we say that the photos honestly do not show the ‘depth’ of the problem. Instantly, Rachel and Amy started honking at James and Bharat (in the tuk tuk) to stop but off they drove into the distance until they realised minutes later that something was wrong and turned back to help the damsels in distress. James was trying to stay calm, raising an eyebrow at Rachel who was suggesting we could “just lift” the 1 tonne car out of the mess it had found itself in. Bharat, however, immediately started shouting for a “flat stone….NO! A FLATTER FLAT STONE!”, ordering people to ring the RAC, and scrabbling for the jack in the bottom of the car. After 15 minutes of footage of Bharat ranting and raving (only available for viewing if there is a generous donation!) and two cars cruising straight on past us, Bharat was catastrophising that the “car was gone” and that there was nothing we, the RAC, or anyone in the whole world could do to get us out the ditch! Meanwhile, Amy was busy saying sorry this and sorry that, and then quickly changed her story from “impeccable driving” to “impeccable crashing” technique, as only 100m ahead we spotted a 4×4 BMW coming towards us. Luckily for us the owners of the BMW, a very surly Slovenian man and his friendlier wife, came to our rescue. Bharat was belligerently insisting that the minuscule jack we’d brought with us would get the car out of the ditch, which the surly Slovenian man did not look upon with a great deal of respect or patience. Later Bharat would laugh with us as we joked about how adamant he was that his jack and his flat rocks would be more effective than the BMW TwinPower Turbo eight-cylinder diesel engine with over 550 horsepower.

Bharat looking for his flat stone!

All the luggage out to reduce the weight as we tried to no avail to lift the car out the ditch but our saviours had just arrived…

James, after some vigorous pointing from our Slovenian saviours, tied the tow rope to anything he could find under the front of the Fiat. Bharat was told to get into the car as the monster BMW pulled us to safety. Everyone set, the BMW started to pull the Fiat but instead of getting it out of the ditch the Fiat just screeched along the rocks of the ditch further, causing Bharat to let out pained yells until the Slovenian man stopped. Extremely unimpressed, the Slovenian driver got out of his car and, as far as we can tell, just told Bharat to shut up and get on with it. And 10 seconds later the car was out of the ditch! By some miracle there didn’t seem to be any lasting damage, but James decided to cause Bharat more stress by picking up a random piece of rusty, metal from the road (from nowhere near where the car had been) and asked if it had come off the car. Bharat doesn’t often get sarcasm and this joke was totally lost on him. James has learnt his lesson.


Given ditch-gate, Bharat banned Amy from driving for the next two days, but apart from that the two of them made up at our picnic spot on the side of the road overlooking the treacherous Slovenian hills we’d just driven up. After our scenic picnic, we continued to our next apartment for the night – another city centre treat from Bharat. As we left the centre of Ljubljana well behind us, we arrived through a McDonalds Drive-Thru to the salubrious “White House” – a mere 1 hour walk into the city centre! Finally in Ljubljana, we had some food, drank some wine and managed to have a good laugh about the day, which all in all was a significantly good result.

Amy and Bharat make up

Memories of Emily:

In Maribor we played Rummikub, a favourite of Emily’s, who always used to win. Rachel wagged her finger at everyone just like Emily used to when she needed more time to think up her wicked moves.

Ditch of the Day:
Day 20: Bharat – he tried so hard to pick a nice apartment in the centre of Maribor but alas it still smelt of sewage
• Day 21: Amy – for getting us into the stickiest situation of the trip so far.

Interesting fact:
• Nearly every house in Slovenia with a garden has a single vine in it, which the home owners use to produce their own wine!

Highlight of the day:
Day 20: Speeding down the Slovenian hills trying to get some good Go Pro footage of the tuk tuk doing some slick racing lines!

• Day 21: Stumbling across Ljubljana’s Taste Festival and being able to sit in a gorgeous square in the capital and try lots of different types of local foods and wines. Although Rachel wasn’t that impressed by Bharat’s choice of Slovenian ravioli!

Ljubljana Taste Festival where we had our supper

Tuk Tuk To Trivia:
• Number of times Rachel has called Slovenians “the Slovenlys”: 5
• Number of times Bharat angrily said “Oh my God” in the Slovenian mountains: 999

Sponsor for Hungary: Savills

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A big thank you to Savills for kindly sponsoring Hungary, home of Festetics Palace in Keszthely:Could this be the gate to your new pad?

Festetics Palace, Keszthely, Hungary

James gets down and dirty

Picnic spot after Ditch-Gate

Sumo passes under some impressive motorway bridges in Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

View to castle at Ljubljana


Picnic spot en route to Ljubljana

The shores of Lake Balaton at Keszthely, Hungary


Evening sun in Maribor, Slovenia


The oldest vine in the world, Maribor, Slovenia


Tuk Tuk on the Train Tracks, Hungary

Stunning Slovenia