Cycling from Ljubljana to Istanbul

Wind, the everchanging shape of clouds, trucks as clumsy animals – maybe elephants, thoughts, colors of landscapes, empty mind, dead hedgehog again, My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk, water fountain, artificial voice of Komoot navigation system, smells of the pine trees, cadaurus, gasoline & sea, people are waving, cars honking, let’s stop for a çay (turkish tea).

It is all about the flow. I love to travel slowly. Day after day there are rivers beside me, slow, brown, loaded with wood, then blue, black and smaragd green: Sava, Una, Drina, Studenica, Yber, Maritsa, Evros. Where do they go? Why so far? I am asked these questions about myself very often. But I cannot give one simple answer.

If you love numbers you can check some:

  • 1740 km distance
  • 13307 m altitude
  • 96 h in the saddle
  • 29 nights
  • 9 countries
  • 9 days of 0 km
  • 8 days performing juggling show
  • 5 fellow touring cyclists
  • 4 turtles crossing the road
  • 3 days hiking
  • 2 visits of probably the biggest Roma communities in Europe
  • 1 flat tyre
  • 1 free ride with a police car because of juggling
  • 1 hug of a beggar
  • ♾️ smiles & friends on the road.


Friends joined me when I started the journey from my home in Ljubljana. We followed Sava and embraced for goodbye. After 30 km a storm cought me in Litija. An old man with long grey hair paid for my drink, saying his name was Srečko (Lucky) and it was meant for my luck on the way.


My circus friends from Zagreb invited me to Postaja circus squat and Roko introduced me to traffic lights juggling. We were practising in the circus hall too.

On Sunday morning everybody was cycling to flea market. I got a nice old blue-dotted tie, my costum for a new traffic act. In the evenings we were chatting and playing cards by the candle light. Mexican clown brothers adviced me on performing in next cities to come. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Old women on the hill in the middle of nowhere were amazed seeing me with a bike and shook my hand, wishing me safe journey and to live for hundred years. Walking down the road with umbrellas on their shoulders their heads were swinging like strange flowers.

The other day I sank into the salty water of Panonian lakes in Tuzla. But swimming in Drina was the most refreshing so far.


It is quiet up here. Saint Sava, a hermit, used to live in a stony building with a chapel, raised beside the steep yellow rocks as the wasp nest. I adore icons with figures in golden aureolas, stuck to the rocks, roots of the trees or in the soil beside the narrow path.

On the sunny spot in the forest a large and lazy horned viper makes me think about pagan beliefs, as they worshiped snakes.

I am stunned by remote Studenica valley and its monastery from XII. century, filled with the unearthly blue light. A couple is kissing a thousand years old tomb and ancient book.


Two boys on a red scooter are driving paralel to me for kilometers. We chat. They are curious, they keep asking me questions. What do I think about Kosovo? Do I like football? After a while still riding we shake hands, they turn around and drive the opposite way. 

In Pristina I try out for the first time my new street show Pocket juggling. Wearing a blue worker’s costume with many pockets where juggling balls rise from, I play with people on the busy promenade. I improvise and check out the pockets of the audience, taking out unexpected objects like white socks and a hairclip. It is pure magic! During the second show inspector and policeman start to talk to me, music still playing in the background and hundred people watching, asking me for a license. After they realise we can speak common language they allow me to continue; the show must go on!

North Macedonia

In the dry lands turtles are crossing the road. I stop and observe them for a while. They hide their heads in fear first but soon continue to walk. On the busy road I carry one to the other side.

In Skopje I realise how my interests differ from those of the travellers in the hostel. I want to visit Suto Orizari or Shutka, a Roma capital of the world, eat a good škembe čorba and perform my show on the street. One moment during the show I was pushing stroller with a baby down the street, the other I was offering a big pink cake to the strangers passing by. People were laughing. A barefoot beggar helped me with putting a carton box in front of me to collect money. Next day I met him again and brought him sandwich and juice. He asked me to try on shoes he was carrying in the plastic bag and hugged me.

By the way, you must watch The Shutka Book of Records (2005), a hilarious documentary that inspired my visit there!


At lunch on the open market in Sofia three Spaniards ask me if they can join my table. Of course! Few minutes later I am invited to overnight at their place. This is my birthday present! We have a lovely dinner and beer in the garden. Next days we wander around with Eider, my new Basque friend.

In the evenings I perform at the traffic lights, where I meet new Bolgarian and Argentinian friends, performing too. We are juggling in the park until the night.

When I am putting the coins on the table in Plovdiv to pay for the night, Ivan asks me: ‘Are you a musician or a juggler?’ I start to laugh asking him why did he even think I could be a juggler. Because his best friends are jugglers and they always have plenty of coins! Do you know Filip and Viktor? Coincidences are bigger than us and irresistible, I find written in my diary.

He recommends me where to perform and invites me to Stolipinovo, another supposedly the biggest Roma community in Balkans. Hm, confused? He insists on taking with us no valuables, only coins are rattling in our pockets while we walk the dirty and smelly streets. People are sitting in front of their caravan homes next to the blocks of flats. Dogs and cats lie among piles of garbage. Beside the street horses wait. There is something we have in common, the Gypsies, street dogs and me, I start to think. But what exactly is it?


Another border crossing. The river changes its name from Maritsa to Evros. Suddenly the asphalt road in front of me ends in the river, the bridge is broken! 

I go to swim and cook a lunch. I will find another bridge later.


People! They are smiling, asking me questions I don’t understand and buying me çay beside the road.

The front wind is strong and makes me slower. Everytime the truck passes I can fill the change of the wind and try to take the advantage of it, pedalling faster. Horizons become wider! Finally I can see the sea and I start to solut loudly!

Two people are waiting in front of their car beside the road. Do I know the Bicycle Academy in Lüleburgaz, where cyclists can overnight for free? Do I want to join them for a dinner?

Definitely the best meeting point for cyclists on my way: I met Andre and Benn, later Claudia and Alessia joined us too. Everybody travelling with their heavy bikes. In the evening many children were learning to ride on the hilly tracks and among the obstacles around our appartment. I joined them as I felt for the moment as returning to my school. How miraculous is to learn riding the bike for the first time, holding fragile balance on two wheels! Parents holding their youngsters from behind and at one moment letting them free …

In the early Saturday morning we wake up in the tents beside the sea. I am excited before the last step: entering the endless urban landscape of Istanbul. Everybody in their own rhythm; cars, trucks, buses, taxis, motorcycles, bikes & wind.

I reach ferry and cross to Kadiköy on the Asian side, where Katarina, my sister’s friend, is kindly hosting me. 

The words from my diary on the day of my arrival to Istanbul carry the essence of everything I felt: I AM HERE.

I was happy, simply happy, while listening to the music by Altin Gün and staring to the waves.