‘Dober dan’ and greetings from Slovenia! 😄 🇸🇮
Slovenia is a teeny tiny little country nestled next to Austria and Italy. If Venice is a fish, Slovenia is apparently a chicken.🐔😂
The country of Slovenia has a population of only 2 million people. I guess, quality over quantity! 😉 😂
Slovenia has been nicknamed the ‘Switzerland of the Balkans’ for both its wealthy economy and wealth of natural beauty.🌳💰
Money doesn’t grow on trees though, and the Slovenian people are a testament to this proverb. They are known for being hospitable, honest and hardworking. According to the OECD, they work an average of 200 hours more annually than the Japanese whom are notorious for their work ethic. 🐶
Slovenians also value their land, and nothing embodies this more than their “I Feel Slovenia” campaign. This green logo represents a lifestyle balance between pursuing your own personal interests and preserving the environment around you.
Over 60% of Slovenia is protected forest, and The Legatum Institute ranked Slovenia as the #1 country in the world for its high-quality ecosystem and its preservation efforts. 🌻
Don’t worry though, Slovenians really DO get to enjoy themselves after all their hard work! They love the outdoors! 🚴🏻♀️🌲
According to the “I Feel Slovenia” tourism board, “A holiday in Slovenia will bring back balance in your life, because in Slovenia you are always in touch with something elementary – whether that is water, the fragrance of the forests or the authentic flavors of the food.” ⛰️Now, with only four days in Slovenia, I was able to visit two places: Ljubljana and Lake Bled.
Ljubljana, pronounced Lyoo-BLYAH-nah, is the capital of the country and aptly means, ‘the beloved’. 💓
I mean, how could you not fall in love with a place such as this? The town is like something out of a fairy tale, with cobblestone streets, Baroque architecture, and picturesque bridges set alongside the Sava River, nestled within the Slovenian mountains, and beneath a towering medieval fortress. 🏰
Even if you don’t want to go inside the castle, there are lots of other things to do around it. Heck, I even found some people just sunbathing next to the watch tower. 😂
For starters, you can dine at Strelec Restaurant, in the courtyard of this 15th century castle.
Just be careful with how many glasses of wine you have, since the courtyard is also where they have the old open-air prison pits. 🍷😮
Like I said, even if you don’t want to enter the castle, the views from the top are spectacular! Just check out that mountain range! 😍
Fun fact: they say this mountainous terrain historically hindered communication between the regions, and to this day, there are almost 50 different varieties of Slovenian being spoken!
Anyway, with two days in Ljubljana, I was able to take a free walking tour, enjoy local music at the Central Market, and try a bit of the local cuisine.
Balkan coffee is like Red Bull…it gives you wings. ☕ 😂
And this precious library under the treetops!📚🌲
One thing I enjoy about the service industry in Europe is that there is no tipping culture. Wait staff are in no rush to turnover your table, and you could easily spend 3-4 hours in a cafe without being hassled. So relaxing! ☕
One typical Slovenian dish I tried is Štruklji, a baked dough that can be filled with a wide range of ingredients.
They also serve this traditional drink in Slovenia called Cockta.
Its main ingredient is dog rose hip, among many other herbs and citrus fruits.🌹
As for cheap eats, one of the highlights for me was this Balkan fusion found at Burek Olimpija. Because they are neighbors with Italy, the Slovenians have taken the traditional burek pastry and stuffed it with PIZZA ingredients- mozzarella and marinara. Genius! 🍕
A common fascination of mine as I travel is also unique architecture and in Ljubljana, it maintains a lovely aesthetic all its own.
This is thanks to famed architect and legend, Jože Plečnik. He combines ancient and modern influences, and is responsible for constructing many of the buildings and bridges in Slovenia during the early 20th century. You can even tour his home in Ljubljana.
There are a few other artsy attractions here, like Metelkova, a street art center, and bizarre bronze statues by Jakov Brdar on Butcher’s Bridge.
In general, I just loved how safe this city felt and how friendly everyone was that I encountered. According to International SOS, Slovenia is one of top ten safest countries in the world! 🧡
As for my time in Lake Bled, I can only describe it as a incredibly scenic and relaxing. I swear, I took at least 50 pictures of the same lake. 😂 It was just so pretty from every angle and at all times of day! 📷
Bled was the residence for much of the aristocracy during the 18th century, and the homes around the lake still conjure up visions of elegance and prestige.
In case you haven’t heard it yet. 🎵
At the center of the lake is an island with a picturesque church.⛪
Anyway, there are many activities to take part in at Lake Bled, including paddle boarding, kayaking, biking, hiking, and there’s also a mini water park for the kids.
I chose to swim and relax at the beach with this girl from France and another from Moldova. 😎Both are solo travelers, and one just finished up this incredible backpacking trip through Western Africa. Just wow!
But totally worth the climb! 😍
Lake Bled is also famous for its culinary delight, a cream cake made with sugar, eggs, and lemon. I sat with this lovely Aussie couple from my hostel whom are on a long-term trip for the next 6 months. 🍰
On my second day in Lake Bled, there were major thunderstorms, so I decided to stay around my hostel in Lesce, a traditional mountain town where I saw women carrying wooden baskets to the grocery store.
I loved how the church next to my hostel chimed every 15 minutes, and the smell of manure seemed to waft from the farm fields into the town. 🐄
In the morning, before the rains came, I also went to the local grocery store for some snacks, and the nearby campground for a stroll. Local ingredients here include hazelnuts, truffles, and honey.
At the campground, if you hadn’t heard the foreign languages being spoken, one could even think you were in northern Wisconsin.
Speaking of the good ‘ol’ USA, fourth of July is right around the corner, and I’ll be celebrating in Croatia. Stay tuned to hear all about it! Until then! 🇺🇸
I stayed at Aladdin Hostel in Ljubljana and 1A Adventure Hostel in Lake Bled, which had a lovely atmosphere in the evenings.🕯️
It also had a complimentary shuttle twice daily from Lesce to Bled. The driver was the sweetest and I loved his little rescue dog who always rode shotgun.
That being said, the hostels were not centrally located, so take that into consideration when booking. Things could always be worse though! I mean, there’s this hostel in Ljubljana where you can stay in an old prison cell. 😱
I took FlixBus, which I highly recommend. It’s such an organized company, and they have an app, so you can book online and conveniently store all your bookings in one place, plus you can track your bus as it’s on the way to pick you up! They also have WiFi and charging ports.
As always, there are so many places here that I didn’t discover. Slovenia also has a stunning Mediterranean coastline, the largest number of caves in the world, and although I enjoyed their incredible coffee, Slovenia also has a rich wine-growing region with almost 30,000 wineries- that’s one winery for every 70 people! For next time, sign me up!