Saturday, June 28, 2008

August 19 Guče Selo CROATIA to Tišenpolj SLOVENIA 27 K / 17 Miles, Discovery of Paternal Family Tree

I leave the apartment in Guče Selo about 8:00 and cross into Slovenia hoping to find this Štaško Južnič at home in Fara. If not I am cycling to Ljubljana. Well, I was meant to discover my family tree. Štaško was home and we sat and he took notes and said to come back in 4 hours and he would have info. When I returned he had print outs of my grandmother and grandfather's descendants, all the way back to 1494. The book he wrote, The History Of Kostel, 1500 - 1900, is published in English by a company in Mechanicsburg PA. Štaško has gathered all the data from the records of all the churches and castles etc in Kostel. There is an amazing abundance of records going back 500 years. I sat with Štaško for 5 1/2 hours discussing the history of Kostel, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Albania, the migrations of people groups, history of wars in the region etc.

I took Wayne Tuttle up on his invitation to stay at his house in the small village of Tišenpolj (Sleltered Field) half way back up the mountain.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

August 20 Tišenpolj SLOVENIA to Tišenpolj SLOVENIA 31 K / 19 Miles Cycled to My Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather's Village of Srbotnik

Today I wanted to cycle through the village of Gladloka again to verify where my Grandfather's farm was exactly located. This I was able to do. Then I biked another 6K along the Kupa River to the village of Srbotnik where I wanted to see the Church of St Ana. You must see this church and the view from its' location high on a cliff overlooking Croatia and Slovenia. Srbotnik is the village my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Gregor Simonich lived in. (For those who would be interested there is a history lesson on the development of the Slovenian alphabet available at Štaško Južnič's. Just stop on by). It turns out that h's were used on the ends of names until the 1800's when the little marks (č or š or ž) above letters were introduced. My family name morphed over the centuries from Simonich to Simonič to Simončič. In the dialect of Kostel (Slovenian has 8 major dialects) my family name is Šmonč or Šmončevi. Šmončevi meaning "belonging to Šmonč". The old farm house in Gladloka, house #2, has been rumoured for many years to be the "House of Šmonč".

After my tour along the Kupa I cycled to Štaško's house for more dialogue. I left for awhile when he received a phone call and had the good fortune of being invited into the home of Slavko and Mira Janeš and their english-speaking daughter Natalija. What fun talking about my family history and their family history. Štaško and I finished up talking about cycling, the NBA (alot of Serbian hoopsters get to America by way of Slovenia), Oklahoma (where he spends time doing research), and bouncing around history lessons.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

August 21 Tišenpolj SLOVENIA to Kočevje SLOVENIA 30 K / 19 Miles

I departed Wayne Tuttle's in Tišenpolj about 9:00 and planned to bike to Ljubljana with a stop at the land record office in Kočevje. Once in Kočevje I had a series of unbelievable divine appointments and will camp here so I can continue research of the land records of Gladloka Slovenia and learn the history of my grandfather's 245 acre farm since he left for America in 1900. I have a 9:00 appointment in the morning to be escorted through the record books by David Šušel who works in the land record department and speaks English. There is camping along the lake on the edge of town. Photos will be uploaded once my camera is repaired, hopefully in the next 2 days in Ljubljana.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

August 22 Kočevje SLOVENIA to Ljubljana SLOVENIA by Bus, Biked 20K / 12 Miles mostly around Ljubljana

Another incredible day of discovery. Many thanks to David Šušel for helping me discover the history of my ancestral home; the village of Gladloka, in the Municipality(Občina) of Kostel, in the south-central most region of Slovenia. We spent 2 1/2 hours researching. When it was time to leave for Ljubljana David told me I could take my bicycle on the bus to Ljubljana. It turns out that the road I was to cycle to Ljubljana was a very unsafe road for cycling. So I am glad I opted for the bus ride. Once in Ljubljana I purchased a train ticket for the next day from Ljubljana SLOVENIA to Villach AUSTRIA. I found my way to the Dic Youth Hostel and checked in. Then I cycled to what I thought was a Canon Camera Shop with a repair department. Turns out there is no repair person. I found the place closed, but knocked on the window hoping for a response. Voila, Špela Kališek (photo), account manager staying late to catch up on work let me in and informed me there is no repairman. But she made some phone calls and even checked the camera. The zoom lens would not retract, and it would just shut off a few seconds after turning it on. Well, as I was leaving, she asked if the camera had a certain function so I got the camera out again for her to check and when she looked at the camera it "got healed"!!! The camera just started working. In fact I took a bunch of photos as I biked around this very cool city of Ljubljana. The hostel I'm staying at, the Dič Hostel, is a giant 600 person capacity hostel which I believe had been a college dorm in the past. Free internet with the stay was so helpful. Oh, and I ate dinner at a Serbo-Croatian restaurant. A meat plate with a spiced up hamburger, sausage, and pork, and red peppers in olive oil and a loaf of bread(photo).