During the Autumn of 2017, I was fortunate to visit the gorgeous country of Slovenia. The moment I entered here, it was surely’Love at 1st sight’!The easy drive and the mountains all around kept calling me. I knew this was one of the most romantic places I have ever visited. Did you know that S’love’nia is the country with the word LOVE in its name. The capital Ljuibiana means ‘the beloved one’. And it is considered as the darling of erstwhile Yugoslavia that parted ways without any bitterness and aggression unlike other nations. With all the beauty and all the wonderful people you cannot but as the cliche goes, “It was love at first sight”. Romantic getaways are so many, but Slovenia surely gives you a reason to indulge in some self love.
Here are the reasons why wit will be etched my memory and stay in my heart forever:
Slovenians are one of the friendliest people you meet
During my several trips, never have I come across the locals being so warm and wonderful to us, apart from my home country India of course. You ask them any question and 9 out of 10 times you will get a very patient reply. One such local that I met through a Facebook group was Masa Butara. When I told her that I was planning my birthday trip to her country, she went out of her way to give me a well thought of list of do’s and don’ts – quirky things to experience, where to ring in my birthday, places to eat, sightseeing marvels etc. One such place that she recommended was Point Ojstrica which gives you an unparalleled view of Lake Bled. It was very sweet of her to include informative tips such as the difficulty level of the hike, the type of shoes one should come prepared with for treks and the little known routes familiar only to the locals. After months of intense planning and anticipation, Masa and I finally met in Ljubjana to catch up. To date we continue to have conversations online. Our Airbnb host Luka made our stay extremely comfortable. He was sweet enough to arrange a surprise birthday cake for me in Ljubjana`s most popular cake shop – Swezda. Another heartwarming incident was with our boatman in Lake Bled. Usually the boats that take you to the church drop you off to the same spot from where you get in. We had requested our boatman, Cvetko to drop us off at Lake Bled castle instead. He had made arrangements for another boat to take us to the castle after our church tour. When the other boat never showed up, Cvetko took the pains to and let go his others trips and took to the castle in his car. He definitely did not have to go out of his way but he felt so committed to us that he took it upon himself to do so. We were humbled by the hospitality and involvement. Hats off the Cvetko
A little bit of everything
Slovenia is pure pristine beauty – right from the snow capped peaks to the lush green beach and fir trees to icy cold waterfalls to clear and sparkling lakes and gurgling rivers. It’s a virgin country yet to be discovered by the masses. The sights and sounds of wilderness and nature are packed into a country less than half the size of Switzerland. Another must-visit place is the Postjona Caves which are over 4000 years old. Not the adventuring kind? Don’t worry, the concrete jungle is not lacking in any way. Slovenia also has a great food scene, modern buildings and quirky street art. The two sides of the spectrum balance each other beautifully each not butting into the other. For all those wine connoisseurs, this country has vineyards galore. With all of this and a population of about 2 million, Slovenia is soon; sure to be one of the most visited destinations in Europe.
Two countries with one stone
Standing on the Adriatic coast of Slovenia at Piran one can see two other countries at the same time. While your feet lay firm in Slovenia, a look to your left and it’s Croatia. A glance to the right and you will peer right into Italy. This was an indescribable once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Every girl’s fairytale
When I saw pictures of Lake Bled, I was pretty sure that these were all edited. But it is only when you stand there, at the center of all the beauty that you realize the photos had been speaking the truth all along. Lake Bled with its island at the center, the Church of Assumption on the island, the castle, the snow-capped Julian alps in the background, ducks swimming, people boating, the carpet of red autumn leaves and the smell of fresh morning air were nothing short of being part of a mystical fairytale. I was left awestruck! *Hint hint* to all you ladies wanting that perfect backdrop for your wedding.
Sinfully divine desserts
For all those with a sweet tooth, Slovenia is an absolute treat. Lake Bled was covered with posters of their famous Bled cream cake, invented in the 1950’s at Café Park Restaurant. To get a real taste of its authenticity, I recommend that the cake be tried only at this restaurant. Over these 60 years they have sold more than 13 million cakes in Bled and across Slovenia. This tradition of Bled, is a crispy golden crust, made with real butter, and then pure vanilla beans cream and a little flour to give it some hold, topped with whipped cream, filo pastry and icing sugar. Describing this to you, my mouth is watering, I feel like one now. Another dessert worthy of special mention is the Boozy Jack Daniels Sundae served at Stari Piskar restaurant, in the town of Celjie – an hour’s drive from Ljubljana. This banana split dessert with the bananas soaked in Jack Daniels whiskey for over 8 hours and served with two dollops of ice cream along with a shot of Jack Daniels will completely blow your senses away. With my fair share of travelling and chocolate tasting experiences from all around the world, I must say that the chocolates here, sprinkled with lemongrass, lavender, rose petals, edible flowers, full pieces of figs are one of a kind which I have never come across in my travelling life. My favorite was the chocolate with basil leaves, figs, and Prosciutto ham. I felt like a 5-year-old girl in a, well, a candy shop of course.
Value for money
Slovenia is a very pocket friendly country. You get good Italian meals at 1/3rd the price of its neighboring country, Italy. Entry into places is also about 1/3rd to 1/2 of other European countries. One can experience beauty akin to Switzerland at half the price with half the crowds of any popular touristy spot. So, for all those young and budding backpackers eager to explore the untouched beauty of the world, Slovenia would perfectly fit into your budget.
Safe to travel
Slovenia is probably one of the safest countries that I have visited. Unlike a visit to any strange foreign land which would be marred with the likes of “what if I get mugged?”, “what if I lose my passport?” and “what will my backup plan be?”. Slovenia is in my opinion, a traveler-friendly country. If you lose your way, the locals will wholeheartedly walk with you to your destination. If you drop money or your passport, it will be returned to you. You can definitely let go and gain more out of your travel experiences knowing that you are looked out for. I would highly recommend this country for solo female travelers.
Penning down my love for this country, all I can say is that the real beauty of this hidden jewel is in the warmth, friendliness and honesty of its people. Their kindness and affection made my trip even more special, and I now have many such fond cherished memories. Slovenia has been etched in my heart forever.
In end the only thing I can tell you is “Don’t listen to what they say, go and see for yourself” – Anonymous