Day 3 - Salzburg to Maribor, Slovenia

It took us about an hour to leave Salzburg. Eventually a German guy, named Brian, stopped to pick us up. He was about my age, half German and half American, and an interior designer. He was really intelligent and really, really interesting to talk to. We talked about about travel, philosphy, vaccinations, aquaplanning, and motor accidents on the autobahn.

Although we wanted to go to Villach - and then onto Ljubljana and Zagreb - Brian offered to take us to Graz. It was still south, and better than nothing. It just meant we would have to go to Zagreb via Maribor, at the Slovenian border, rather than Ljubljana.

Graz was an absolute BITCH to leave! We did meet a truck driver who offered to take us all the way to Istanbul but decided against it when he also offered Claudia massages - repeatedly! So, we got a short ride to the other side of Graz to try something different, but still no luck. When we just about gave up all hope - and as I was waiting to cross the motorway with the hitching sign still visible to passing traffic (as it is illegal to hitch on motorways) a Turkish guy, Ibrahim, stopped - on the motorway - and took us to the Slovenian border. He was extremely friendly and kind. He said, "If you have any trouble when you are in Turkey, call me. I wil speak for you."

Unfortunately it was the OLD Austrian-Slovenian border. So although there was loads of traffic, it was all locals going home - or crossing the border to buy cheap liquor. There were a couple of guys painting a little boothe right beside where we had perched to hitch. We asked one of them for advice and he said we should go up the hill to the NEW border as there are many more cars actually going on to Slovenia. He said that locals use the old border (which has no border officials and is completely desserted) because it means they don't have to pay for the autobahn tax. Ibrahim had already informed us of this.

This is how we came to meet the wonderful and amazing Darko! Darko said if we wait for him to finish painting the boothe, he would take us to Maribor. So we waited... a couple of hours. It was worth it! Darko drove us to Maribor at a new land speed record of 184km/h. He took us to watch some fireworks at a festival and then refused to let us camp and paid for a beautiful hotel room for us. We love Darko!!!

He is such a wonderful person that we changed our plans to spend almost the whole next day with him. He was then kind enough to drive us to Zagreb, Croatia - completely out of his way. I said, "We can't let you drive all that way. I'm sure you have other things to do."
"Yes," he replied, in his calm, cool tone, "but I drive very fast."
haha... you have to love this guy!