While Slovenia was always beautiful and charming, it has started making its spot on the list of the top touristic destinations only in the recent years and in 2017 won the National Geographic World Legacy Award.
Being a Slovene myself, I see it as a small paradise – very small but very diverse. If you are traveling to Slovenia in the future or you already had, let me help you catch up with some nice facts about it.
“Sea, mountains, caves, we have everything!”
While Slovenia is a very small country (20.273 square meters), its land is very diverse. The forests cover around 58 percent of the surface. On the North-West, you will find the Alps and on the South-East a short (40 kilometers long) coastline. Postojna caves and Škocjanske caves will take you far away from the daylight and give you an opportunity to meet a human fish. The rest of the country offers beautiful spots next to the rivers and lakes, valleys, fields, vine yards and thermal and mineral springs which you can enjoy in many of the spas.
Complicated Slovene language
Slovene language is spoken by around 2,5 million people worldwide and is a very complicated language. While Oscar Wilde said that life is too short to learn German, I would say the same for Slovene. Words not only change the forms in every declension, there is singular, plural and … the additional form for the double! Who said, that French was the language of love? 🙂
Can you read the words čmrlj, četrtek, Ljubljana? You can find out more about the Slovene language in a very funny and entertaining way here.
Some people, especially the older generations, like to remember the days in Yugoslavia, and the days when Tito was still alive. “When everyone had a job,” they say, and “we didn’t have much but we had enough, we were all happy”. The days when one brand of each product was dominating the market shelves and when people could leave the country only once per year are over, but the music from the times remains. Yugo rock bands especially, such as Bijelo Dugme.
Slovenes speak many languages
It is common that Slovene speaks Croat, Serbian, German, or English, some even all of them. The knowledge of Croat and Serbian language come from the times when we were together a part of Yugoslavia, and the fact that Slovenes like to spend their summer holidays in Croatia. And while the German is often taught in schools, their synchronised TV channels help in the process of learning a lot. English is a must in Primary Schools and in some high schools children have a possibility to learn French or Spanish as well.
Slovenia was not always Slovenia. It was a part of Yugoslavia, it was under the Habsburgs, and the history goes much further. Our neighbour countries are known to have good cuisines as well. This in my opinion had in a big influence on what and how we cook. Besides the typical Slovene dishes, such as kranjska sausage, ajdovi žganci, jota etc., on our plates are often dishes that come from the Southern or from the Northern countries (such as certain types of the grilled meat – like čevapčiči, goulash, Austrian apple »štrudelj« etc.). With a variety of the foods, the fact that we like to eat well, and that the restaurants are relatively cheap, I can say that Slovenia is an opportunity to have a good culinary experience.
You can face the day of -8 degrees in winter and +32 degrees in summer. The trees will be full of white flowers in spring and the forests will be in all colors in fall. While you can be very annoyed by long winters and feel major spring tiredness in April, Slovenia is truly a place where you can experience the seasons.
However, because of that, it may not always be »the perfect time« for the travelers to visit. I would mostly recommend it in May, June, and September.
Education is for free
Students come out of the Universities without debts. Education is for free, for Slovenes and foreigners, and they enjoy the special discounts for their meals in restaurants. Two coupons per day per student and the price sometimes even 0 euros.
Thermal Spas Paradise
There are 78 known thermal and mineral springs in Slovenia, especially on the northeastern part of the country. They are used for the spas, pools, creating the places where people come to relax and regenerate. Combining it with saunas, massages and nice food, it is small paradise that helps you to »get back on the track« in stressful times, helps you to recover after injuries or simply take care of you body and soul.
Union or Laško?
Like a lot of countries have some regions where they prefer one national beer over the other, Slovenia has Union and Laško.
Living in nature while being near to the big cities
One of the major pluses of being is Slovenia is enjoying its calmness and nature, while always having an opportunity to reach big cities, either by a car or by public transport. Vienna, Graz, Budapest, Trieste, Zagreb, even Prague and Bratislava are not far … This closeness gives us the opportunity to search for the cheapest way to travel with the plane, too!
While Slovenes are not very thrilled when in autumn they have to spend one weekend helping their parents or friends picking up the grapes, it is not uncommon that a family with a house located out of the city produces its own wine. Or has a small »weekend house« somewhere in the vineyard areas. However, when it comes to bigger businesses, Slovenia has many wine producers.
Try the vines Traminec, Refošk, Rumeni Muškat or ask a bartender for any additional advice on what is on the menu. It is common to drink špricer (white wine with sparkling water), bambus (red wine with cola) or miš maš (red wine with Fanta).
Did you know that in Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, grows the oldest vineyard in the world?
For a country with such a small population, Slovenia reaches outstanding results, especially in winter sports. Check after Tina Maze (skier), Peter Prevc (ski jumper), Petra Majdič (ski runner), Jan Oblak (goalkeeper, football), Anže Kopitar (hockey) and the list goes on.
The longest ski jumps in the world in the valley Planica
Planica hosts the final ski jump competition of the season every year. The ski flying hill provides a spectacular view on the longest ski jumps in the world. The current record is 251,5 meters jumped by Kamil Stoch in 2017. And as every Slovene would say, a day of Planica is not an event, it is a national holiday.