Discovering Slovenia

I’m in love.

In love with a country I had never dreamed of visiting.

I’m in love with the landscapes and people of Slovenia.

I arrived here about a week ago in the evening and settled into the Sax Pub Hostel nestled right by the river. I quickly cruised about the small capitol before dusk admiring the quaint feeling of it all. Ljubljana is by far the smallest country capitol I have ever visited. You can get the feel of it all in a day. In the winter it is so peaceful to mozy around the few shops and drink your coffee along the river that stretches right through the center.

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On arrival back to my hostel, I sat down at the pub with some locals who were eager to greet me and tell me all about life in Slovenia. When I got back up to my room upstairs I noticed it was now full with happy travelers. I befriended 4 guys from Germany, Finland, and New Zealand (affectionately referred to as ‘The Kiwis’) as well as a lovely girl named Ramola from India. The Fin and German were studying abroad in Hungary and had just come from Italy, hence they were quick to share their good Italian wine whilst I was quick to share the 2 euro wine I had brought from Vienna. Everyone was studying somewhere wonderful and I was continuously happy to share stories and marvel at how we were all on different, spectacular journeys. Just look how cute the Finnish guy is showing off his seal card.

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We then went to the tallest building in Slovenia to have a pricey beer at the rooftop bar. We were the only ones there and you could tell the waiter was spazzing with the prospect of serving SIX WHOLE PEOPLE. As it is currently off-season in Slovenia it got eerie at some points with how quiet the city was. It was freezing via rooftop, but the view was nice.

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The next day we all went and had a nice seafood brunch and ventured to Ljubljana’s tiny castle. There wasn’t much to see on the inside but the view was spectacular (this was going to become a common theme). From there we spent the day wandering into churches and restaurants to escape the harsh chill.

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At night all of the boys left for their next adventure, so it was just us two girls who went down to the pub to chat. We were sent mysterious free drinks and soon found out it was from a very drunken, older Slovenian man who was very keen to tell us about his many ex-wives and children. As well as to try to set me up with his twin 11-year-old sons (11+11=22 right??).

The next morning, Ramola and I had the nicest cake and coffees for breakfast and met an Argentinean girl who decided to join us on our day’s adventure.

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Together we set off to the tattoo parlor where Ramola and I had made appointments the day prior. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Lindsey. Did you really get another tattoo in Slovenia of all places?” The answer to that question would be ‘yes’. Yes I did. The parlor was simply called “Tattoo” and it was a one-man operation ran by a really cool guy whose name I have no intention of trying to pronounce (or spelling). I paid fifty euros to have a sun forever etched on the top of my back and I couldn’t be happier. Now I will bring the joy of my trip, happiness, and warmth with me wherever I go.

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After my tattoo, I left to find my couchsurfing host who was kind enough to welcome me into his home for the next two nights. I was due to meet him on the university campus, but that was made rather difficult as it started to avalanche down snow (and I might have been given the wrong address *cough*). Upon finding Matic, he was kind enough to drive me to his home to settle in. When he left for a birthday party, I went back into town to get some traditional dinner with Ramola and the Argentinean. From there we went to what is known as “Metelkova” which I have such a hard time trying to explain. Therefore, I will let the internet do it for me.

“Metelkova Mesto is pretty much an autonomous republic housed in an old Yugoslav military based on the fringes of the city centre, and the fringes of Ljubljana society. A left-of-centre collage of cultures and free-living lifestyles, Metelkova hosts many exhibitions and gigs, which tend to be as challenging and varied as the people who hang out in this squat-cum-nightlife hub.”

My first thought was “WOW! Look at all the people!” Metelkova was one of the weirdest and most fantastic places. Every hipsters’, druggies’, hippies’, or artists’ dream.  Full of funky art, cheap booze, and eclectic places to take a load off. The conversations I had there were.. something else.

Anyways, from there the three of us left to find my couchsurfing host at a club in town where an Erasmus party was being held. It was amusing being at an Erasmus party for exchange kids in Slovenia when I hadn’t even gone to one back in England. It was an interesting time to say the least, and at 4am Matic and I left the club to grab some pizza and catch the first bus that went back to his house.

The next day was spent doing absolutely nothing. Sleeping, movies, and homemade mulled wine. I loved every minute of the nothing. I happily watched Inception and Pulp Fiction. The following ‘morning’ Matic drove me to Lake Bled where we walked around and had the delicious cream cake for which Bled is known for.

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I spent the following day reveling in the fact that I had an entire hostel to myself and walking around the entirety of the lake. At this point I have too many pictures of the same thing, but they are all so beautiful! I also got more cake and walked up to Bled’s little castle to admire the view.

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In the morning I checked out from my ‘private’ hostel and hopped on a bus to go to Lake Bohinj. This lake was probably one of the most beautiful things I have seen. Since these lake are part of a national park, it is illegal to boat on the waters or disturb the serene peace; so the way the mountains are reflected in the blue is magical.

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Unsure of what I wanted to do, I started making my way to Slap Savica (one of the national park’s waterfalls). An hour and a half later ,walking up an abandoned road without a soul in sight, I finally made it to the base of the waterfall. It would have been easy to get to this point if I had  car, but as I did not I approached the steep steps with weary anticipation. Luckily I ran into a local Slovenian family who were trekking to the top to see the falls as well.

As we reached the top I could have died of laughter. The ‘falls’ that I was so looking forward to were no more than a stream.

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Whether it was frozen or just a lack of water, our little group was underwhelmed. Yet, the view opposite the falls basically made the journey worth it.

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Having observed the stream, I was invited along to join the family for dinner (assuming we could find a place open in the surrounding desolate town). We ended being the only ones present in a nice pizza(ish) place outside of the lake. I feasted on beer, mushroom risotto, cake pops, and a whole lot of laughter. I felt so welcome. I was dropped off back at my hostel with the invitation of seeing Slovenia’s caves if I chose to stick around.

And stick around I would have liked. Yet, as the transportation gods have not been with me lately, I am now due to catch an early train out to Salzburg, Austria tomorrow. My Sound of Music journey awaits!

For all the lovely people I have encountered during my time in Slovenia, hvala. I wish you all the best.

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**Side note: Couchsurfing is a wonderful experience. This was my first time really using the platform, but I could not find it more encouraging. It was a wonderful way to connect with fellow travelers, share stories, and welcome people into your home and country. I highly recommend that you check out the website and spread the love. www.couchsurfing.com**

 

Elle Kehres

You’ll find me where the waves are big, the sun is bright, and the water is warm.

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