After Ljubljana it was on to Ptuj, a small town well off the tourist trail. We parked and walked towards the centre of town, which we could see from a distance but we couldn't actually locate it on foot. No street seemed to lead towards where we wanted to be. The endless struggle became too much for us, and we ended up walking back to the van to see if there was an alternative route. We eventually found one, in a completely different direction to our first attempt. It turned out that all Ptuj offered was a small street of neat churches and houses, plus a path leading up a hill to a castle. Of course we walked up to the top, where we discovered a structure more like a large house than a castle. We were the only people there, except for a man running the cafe. There wasn't much to see so we turned around and left.
Next stop was Maribor, a larger and busier town slightly north of Ptuj. Maribor had a large old town section, which was appropriate as it was one of the oldest towns in the region. The main reason for visiting Maribor was to visit a wine store that advertised the world's oldest vine, which was winding its way along the building (it was even in the Guinness Book of Records). The vine didn't produce a lot of wine, so there was no chance of tasting any but we did sample other wines from the region. Sauvignon Blanc horrible, Riesling great.
On our travels around the town we came across a building that was apparently a castle but again looked nothing like a castle. It blended in with every other building on the street. I think they were just trying to bring tourists in.
We really appreciate the gas. We were actually happy about being able to shop for veggies.
We said goodbye to Slovenia (again) and headed towards Austria (again), with the plan of stopping off at a few wineries on the way. Danny had located a wine map of the area and he used it to direct us to various wineries. The first one was undergoing some sort of construction and was way too hard to enter. The next few didn't seem to exist (not sure if it was Danny or the map at fault here). The search became too frustrating, so we gave up and headed towards the border.
On the drive we randomly passed a winery not on our map that looked operational, which we excitedly pulled in to. It was set in a large, cold, partly underground cellar lined with huge vats. The winemaker let us try three wines straight from the vat, two of them semi-sweet whites and the other a Pinot Noir that was so light in colour it looked more like a rosé. The wines he was selling were pretty cheap so we bought a Riesling that had won awards we hadn't heard of, a sparkling that was produced entirely by hand (Danny was a fan of that) and a Sivi Pinot (like Pinot Gris) that was only €2. All up the three bottles of wine came to €14. Always on the lookout for a bargain.