This week on the blog, we interviewed three Slovenians to find out what they love about the small, beautiful country where they live.
Keep reading to learn what Lovro (edigz10), Nejc (necoSLO), and Nina (Astia) have to say about their home country!
Tell us a little bit about Slovenia.
Lovro: Slovenia is a small country located in Central Europe (not East Europe!). It has a little more than 2 million inhabitants. The capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana [lyoo-blah-nah] with 300,000 people. It as old roman city with a beautiful castle and centre that has unlimited viewing sites. Slovenia is generally known for it’s great wine and other local foods. Most of the people are kind to tourists and most of the youths know English and German very well. Slovenia is also known for its diversity. Mountains and the sea side are just 1.5h apart by car. On the way, you will pass a town of Postojna that is known for one of the largest cave systems in Europe. The specialty of the caves is that you take a 5 minutes train ride into the caves. The prices in Slovenia are low for tourists but not for Slovenians. We have low salaries since we entered the EU.
Triglav National Park
Nina: Foreigners generally say that Slovenians are hospitable. Given Slovenia is a very small country; one can go skiing in the morning and take a rest at the beach in the evening. Slovenia’s nature is virtually intact. There is something for every nature lover; from forests to pastures and mountains in the Gorenjska region, the sea and karst caves in the Primorska and Notranjska region, to lowlands in Prekmurje and much more.
There is also a very big cultural and historical aspect to Slovenia. Even though the country has been independent only since 1991, is has for centuries been in the centre of historical events. For example, the Counts of Celje were one of the most powerful aristocrats in Central Europe in 14th and 15th century. Slovenia’s folklore is known all around Europe, and it is also become one of many tourist attractions that the country has to offer.
Nejc: Slovenia has a lot of good things which makes it famous. Slovenia is small green country located in central Europe. Our neighbors are Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary … Generally we are friendly and always prepared to help other people. If you visit Slovenia you need only one hour by car and you can swim in our sea or ski on high mountains. The highest Slovenian mountain is Triglav (9,396 ft / 2,864 metres). Slovenia is famous for good food and quality wine (mostly red one). Many tourists come to Slovenia for holidays to relax their brains.
What are some unusual facts about Slovenia?
+ 216 square kilometres of Slovenia is covered in vineyards.
+ Slovenia has many quirky food festivals including the Salt Makers’ Festival, Cabbage Festival, Chestnut Sunday and Bean Day…
+ The official symbol of Ljubljana is the dragon, which was said to have been slayed by Jason (of Jason and the Argonauts).
+ Some scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian were filmed in Slovenia’s Soča Valley.
+ Old Vine in Maribor is over 400 years old and the oldest vine in the world. It still bears between 35 and 55 kilos of red grapes annually from which wine is produced.
+ Postojna Cave, part of Slovenia’s Karst region, is the most-visited cave in Europe. It has a network of 20 km of passages, galleries and chambers.
+ Couples can still get married in the church on Bled Island. Tradition says that the groom must carry his bride up the 99 steps to ensure a long and happy marriage.
+ The country is in the shape of a quirky chicken.
In Bled, over 300,000 egg candles are released to the water each July. (Lovro)
Lovro: Since I live close to Bled (no.1 touristic site) I’m gonna describe it a little detailed. Bled is a town in NW Slovenia located at the far West of Ljubljana basin. It’s a medieval town with a lake that has an island in the middle. That’s the only Slovenian island. On that island there’s a little church and you can have the most expensive wedding there The legend says that if the groom carries his bride over all 99 steps to the island, the marriage will be happy.
Bled is special in the summer because the water is refreshing and it’s awesome to swim to the island. Every year in July, Bled has its night. Over 300,000 egg candles are released to the water and the view is magical. At 11pm there’s a 15 minutes long firework program (also magical), then most of the people go to have A LOT of drinks. Yep, Slovenia is known for it’s drunk people haha.
My favourite thing living close to Bled is that I meet a lot of tourists. I also offer couch-surfing. The least favourite thing is that there’s a lot of loud traffic. The pedestrian area is well regulated and it streches all around the lake. Bled is also know for it’s pastry called Kremšnita (Cream cake). [See image]
My village is called Moste (Bridges), because of it’s many bridges of course. It’s located about 7km away from Bled. We have a water power plant with the highest dam in Slovenia (60m) There’s also a beautiful lake hidden 1km away from the village between a hill and a mountain called Stol (Chair). The water has only 14°C but we swim anyway. Somehow we seem to be cold resistant.
Lovro’s hometown of Moste
Masun, Ilirska Bistrica
Nejc: I don’t live in city, I live nearly in small village. But I live in municipality Ilirska Bistrica. I like it, because it’s small and green city. But there is also some things I don’t like. If we leave our politician behind, I see the biggest problem in infrastructure which is kind of old (mostly from times when Ilirska Bistrica was a part of Italy) and economic problems (there is no work for people, mostly for young one).
In Ilirska Bistrica people eat mostly home-made food. We produce potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables. People who live in villages near Ilirska Bistrica have domestic animals (cows, pigs, horses, chickens). At autumn people made sausages, marmalade and other tasty food. People eat cracknels too. The most typical food is Kranjska klobasa, (Kranj’s sausage), jota (stew with cabbage, potato and sausage), krompir v zelnici (cooked potato with cabbage and sausage), potica (walnut strudel). We drink home-made wine, home-made apple juice. Brkinska slivovka is also popular alcohol drink which is made of plums.
Ilirska Bistrica is small city which looks older and that’s [why] I like it. People are nice, they will always helping you. In the city you can see some interesting places (old mill wheel, downfall Sušec, Kindler’s park). People know each other and its very safe city. I’m living 10 kilometers out of the city (village Bač) and I like it. If someone wants to visit us there is a hostel in my village too.
Ilirska Bistrica (Nejc)
Nina: All Slovene towns have, big and small, everything at the reach of your hand. They are big enough not to suffocate, but small enough to give you a feeling of warmth and coziness. In most towns, everything is within walking distance. That’s why I enjoyed living in Celje, which is the 3rd biggest town in Slovenia, though I currently reside in Maribor, which is the 2nd biggest (approximately 100 000 inhabitants).
One of the biggest advantages of these two towns is the openness and casualness of people. Maribor and Celje are small towns with a large soul.
The thing that probably bothered me the most in Celje is that the town is just small enough that everybody knows everybody. It is not a bad thing, it is just that if you are young and living there, you can sometimes get the feeling that a random person that probably knows you is supervising you, but you do not exactly know them. In Maribor, you do not have that feeling and I really appreciate it.
Slovenia is a beautiful country and I appreciate the greenery and pollution-free environment, even though I live in the second biggest city in the country. I cannot quite put my finger on the least favourite things, although it can sometimes be a problem, if you are not a big football fan.
Slovenia has many national dishes and drinks: Prekmurian layer cake, Istrian stew, ajdovi žganci (buckwheat spoonbread), Minestrone, idrijski žlikrofi (there’s no translation, but are worth trying J), sautéed potatoes, strukeljs, Krajnska klobasa (type of sausage), black pudding, prosciutto, bacon jam, potica (nut roll), sour milk, buttermilk, cider, and many more.
The country is also famous for its wines, such as Cviček (Lower Carniola) and Terrano (Primorska region).
Maribor is famous for its oldest vine. The Wine Roads are also popular throughout Slovenia and they offer amazing routes through and around Slovenia’s many vineyards.
What should visitors see in Slovenia?
View from the Ljubljana skyscraper (Lovro)
Lovro: If you want a cup of coffee with a great view, take an elevator to Ljubljana’s skyscraper. Tough it’s only 70m high, you’ll find a great view over the whole city of Ljubljana. The biggest Slovenian shopping centre BTC City is located on the East of Ljubljana. There’s also the highest Slovenian building (89m) called The Crystal Palace. Coffee on the highest floor is expensive (2.40€) but it’s the best. If you wanna taste traditional Slovenian food go to the city centre and find a reustarant called Sokol. If you don’t find Slovenian food tasty, there’s also McDonalds so don’t worry
Nina: Because of Slovenia’s diverse offers, one can visit the country at any time of the year. If you enjoy mountains, you will enjoy Triglav with the Triglav National Park, Kanin, Krn, Grintavec and many more; and most of these sites also include ski slopes, if you come in the winter. If you enjoy the seaside, Slovenia has a seaside that offers a wide variety of activities in the summer; everything from crazy parties to calm resorts for a relaxing vacation.
[Nina con't] Slovenia’s rich history enables the country to have a museum in virtually every town. Signs of settlement date back to the prehistoric era, with evidence found in the Potočka zijalka cave. The Romans built the oldest cities in Slovenia, including Ptuj, Ljubljana and Celje. Much was preserved from that era, so the cities are a museum on their own. In addition to that, there is a Regional Museum of some sort in every bigger town. The middle ages built castles and Slovenia has many castles to choose from; the most famous include Predjama castle, Ljubljana castle, Celje castle, Ptuj castle, and Turjak castle. All of these castles are monuments that are worth paying a visit to.
Nejc: Slovenia is small but it has many interesting places that tourists can visit, from old towns by the sea on the South to beautifully mountains on the North. [The] 10 top places which you should visit are:
More unusual facts?
-Slovenian forests cover 70% of the country.
-Slovenia is 9th drunkest country on the world (USA is 56th).
-Slovenia is one of the most water-rich countries in the world. The longest river is Sava that flows into Danube in Belgrade, Serbia.
-The word Slovenia contains the word LOVE (sLOVEnia).
-Slovenian is one of the hardest languages.
-Worlds biggest ski jump – Planica is located in Slovenia. (record 239m)
-Europe’s highest chimney is located at the power plant Trbovlje, Slovenia).
-Burja’s wind speeds exceed 200km/h.
-You can pay to stay in a prison cell at Hostel Celica, Ljubljana.
Lovro: We will offer you the best holidays ever.
Nina: Come and see the chicken.