Slovenia was most probably never on top of your bucket list, travel list, or any list for that matter. There’s a big probability that if you’re no extra passionate about geography you probably wouldn’t be able to determine its geographic location besides categorising it as Eastern Europe. Or maybe you thought that I mean Slovakia and have just realised that these are two different countries (don’t worry no judgements here, we’re used to it). But Slovenia is really so much more than that. And what I want to say in this “Welcome to Slovenia 101” doesn’t just originate from my sense of national identity, it’s actually quite the opposite. Because I travel so much I am able to see so much beauty every time I come home and this time I felt the need to share them with the world, with you.
Before we get down to business, let me just quickly give you some fun and interesting facts about Slovenia. This post-socialistic (not communistic) former-Yugoslav country borders to Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Croatia. It consists of 2 million citizens, is shaped like a chicken (it’s true!), and is the only country in the world with “love” in its name, S-LOVE-NIA. Mind=blown!
Now that we got the basics down, let’s turn it up a notch. Slovenia is kind of like a national park and it’s not just because of its tiny size but also in terms of how many forests and green spaces it has. Ljubljana, its capital (350,000 people) was actually the eco capital of Europe 2016, and we’re one of the best countries in the world regards to recycling.
Slovenia really has it all in regards its landscape. You can hike in the Alps (so many mountains to choose from), enjoy clear blue spring water (Posočje is incredible), swim in the Mediterranean seaside (Piran is my favourite), explore the dark and humid caves (like Postonjska jama or Škocjanske jame), enjoy a glass of wine with a view at the Goriška Brda, and more and more. We have hot summers and cold winters so most Slovenians can swim and ski or snowboard and have a great appreciation for nature and sports general.
Slovenia is one of the highest educated nations in the EU due to it’s accessible and free education (yes I said it, from primary school to my Master’s degree the only fees we paid were administrative and utilitarian ie. school books). We are a country of little inequalities, which in theory improves people’s perceptions about the quality of life in the country. Nevertheless, we Slovenians love to complain about our it, but hey, isn’t that true for every county? A wise man once told me: “as long as you can complain about your country, you’re ok”. I really like this view as it makes me feel more objective and grateful for the privilege I had to be born here and in this day of age.
Most Slovenians are multilingual and know how to speak English and Serbo-Croatian, with many being fluent in German, Italian, Spanish, French, and other languages. So you really don’t have to be concerned about visiting Slovenia without speaking a word of Slovenian, you’ll be just fine. Most people also tend to be very open-minded and will be happy to hear your story of what brought you to our lovely country.
Slovenia has a diverse music scene ranging from its traditional music with an accordion and polka (cue “Na golici”), to a great electro scene (have you heard of Gramatic or Anej-F?), rock (and the one and only Siddharta), pop, Yugo, alternative and many award winning choirs.
As many nations, Slovenians love to cook great food, making it a crucial part of our culture. Many our traditional dishes are stews (as those could in the past feed an entire farmer’s family), made from popular ingredients like cabbage, beans, pot barley, carrots, potatoes, sausage, and other meats.
We also love our cottage cheese and bread. Not even kidding, our love for bread might be unprecedented! Our current national favourite is the buckwheat bread with walnuts; now tell me if that doesn’t sound delicious? There are also tonnes of national desserts like “potica” – a nut or cottage cheese and raisin roll, “gibanica” – layered desert with poppy know for the region Prekmurje that borders to Hungary, and “kremšnita” – a must-eat dessert when visiting Bled.
Even though the country has just 26 years of age, the Slovenian language traces back over a thousand years. Our language is strongly focused on relationships and has a unique feature of being able to express things in “dual”, which is what comes in between “singular” and “plural”. This means that you can express a close relationship with someone in a more personal way, which makes our poetry extra special.
Now enough talk and more action. Tell me, have you heard about Slovenia before, maybe you’ve even visited? If so, did you visit anything besides Ljubljana and Bled and if so what were your favourite parts?
Are you heading to Amsterdam, Berlin, or Mallorca any time soon? Perhaps you’re thinking about moving to Barcelona, wondering what’s the story of why I travel or you’d like to read about my decision to move to China?