An hour’s cycling ride from my home lies the town of Ptuj. I can’t blame you if you haven’t heard of it – chances are, you live half a world away. Found on the banks of the Drava river, Ptuj is the oldest Slovenian town with it’s beginnings dating back well into Roman ages. It was an important settlement back then and went by the name of Poetovio. With around 30.000 Romans living in the wider vicinity, it was at the time even bigger than London or Vienna. Time went on, The Romans left and in their place came a number of feudal families, mainly of germanic heritage. A beautiful castle was built which now sits atop a small hill and houses a number of themed exhibitions and other cultural institutions.
Fast forward to today and Ptuj has, among other things, a nice bike shop which I prefer when buying anything bike related. I bought my Diverge there a month back and this time I visited again in the searsh of some SPD shoes. I had actually decided on the model beforehand, it was just the matter of trying on the right size. I was split between taking the Specialized MTB Sport and their Rime model, which looked a bit better, but cost around 50€ more. Money being the culprit, the MTB Sport was ultimately declared victorious and some of the saved money went into a new bottlecage, the Rib Cage II.
For the fun of it, I took along my friend and cycling buddy Dušan. He’s quite the world traveller and has a lot of interesting stories to tell, so it’s never boring when he’s around. We wanted to take our bikes, but the day was cold and foggy, and despite my heart telling me otherwise, we went by car. After a trip to the shop we just had to make our way to the castle – it’s a mandatory stop when you have some time to kill in Ptuj. Access to the courtyard is free, but if you want to walk through it and see the exhibits, you usually have to pay for admission.
Much to our surprise today was not a usual day. Turns out that december 3rd is the birthday of France Prešeren, one of our greatest poets who lived in the 19th century. To celebrate the occasion, many cultural institutions around the country offer free admission and organise special events. So despite the day being gray and grim, we got the chance to see some rather interesting pieces from the life of middle age royalty.
You can see pictures of the castle and its insides in the gallery below, or visit the official Ptuj Tourist Page for more interesting content. Alongside historic sites Ptuj offers a modern thermal spa with accomodations to match, a golf course, superb wine from the surrounding hills and, of course, some nice cycling roads. But more about that some other time.