May 13 2016

04-2013 /7-2014

Slovenia is a tiny country I rushed through on a ten-day trip to Central Europe, in April 2013. It’s about half the size of Switzerland and its population counts just over two million people. The only way to describe this pocket-sized independent republic in the Adriatic Sea is that it’s “a mouse that roars”.

Slovenia has been called many names since its independence in 1991: “Europe in Miniature”, “The Sunny Side of the Alps”, “The Green Piece of Europe” and many more. Although they may sound like tourist-brochure headlines, they’re all true.

I literally drove through the whole country but I only spent time in Ljubljana, the country’s capital. The city itself definitely still has the marks of the Yugoslavian times. High square buildings out of the 70’s, without any space left unused, still fill up the centre of the capital which didn’t exactly appeal to me. On the other hand, the rest of the country still has a lot to offer: beaches, snow-capped mountains, hills awash in grapevines, gothic churches, baroque palaces, historic castles and art nouveau civicbuildings. Slovenia offers more diversity than countries many times its size. Its incredible mixture of climates brings warm Mediterranean breezes up to the foothills of the Alps, where it can even snow in the summer. With more than half of its total area covered with forests, Slovenia truly is one of the greenest countries in the world. And in recent years, as Vladimir, a really friendly local student told me, it has also become Europe’s activities playground.

Among Slovenia’s greatest assets though, as in most of the small countries that I have been to, are the Slovenes themselves. Coming from the cold, strict Central European countries, it’s the first thing that anyone will notice. Welcoming, generous, multilingual and broadminded, the Slovenes are really open to foreigners and the feeling you get is definitely a warm welcome. They’re always ready to drop what they are up to and help you or simple just chat with you. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t live emotionally, spiritually or even geographically in Central Europe. Their homeland is the very heart of the continent but it’s definitely the country that you first encounter the Balkans and Eastern Europe in one melting pot.

Since I only stayed in Slovenia  for a very short visit this year ,2014 in our epic journey to Australia I decided to go back. This time with Rochelle we left the capital and headed to Bled. Bled’s greatest attraction is its crystal blue-green lake, measuring just 2km by 1.4km. The lake is lovely to behold from almost any point someone look at it , and makes a beautiful backdrop for the 6km walk along the shore. We choose to camp in the Camping with the standard name Bled Camping . One of the best camping site I have seen and with the right to call it Glamping.

Unfortunately the weather was not with our site so we got rained down big time without this stoping us from exploring the magnificent landscape. With its emerald-green lake, picture-postcard church on an islet, a medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff Bled is Slovenia’s most popular resort, drawing everyone from honeymooners to backpackers. Not surprisingly, Bled can be overpriced and swarming with tourists in mid-summer. But as is the case with many popular destinations around the world, people come in droves – and will continue to do so – Why?   Because the place is defenatly special.

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