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Slovenia - Piran - b.m. photo

 “This is an exquisite little jewelry box of a country, and as pretty as it is small! From alpine trekking to sunbathing on the beach, and from 100-meter-high waterfalls to awe-inspiring caves, there’s no shortage of things to see or do in Slovenia!
One thing Slovenia doesn’t have is a really big city, and even the capital, Ljubljana, is hardly more than a big town – you could see all the sights in an afternoon, and after that it quickly gets boring. The eastern part of the country isn’t too exciting either, but it does have some wonderful thermal baths. The real highlight of Slovenia, however, is in the west, with the Triglav national park! The beaches on the coast are ok, but nothing special – it would be a shame to travel all the way here just for them!” (Martin, 2017)

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Of all the many countries in Europe, Slovenia is closest to my heart – and I’ve been around enough of the continent for that to mean something. True, I’ve only visited Slovenia twice (once by car and once on a hiking holiday) but what really captivated me, apart from the human scale of the country and the way they respect nature, was the fact that this is exactly how I picture Middle Earth.


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The Slovenian countryside is characterized by rolling green hills, and it feels as though every hill could impart some ancient wisdom about life, or was concealing a hobbit village just out of sight. The land is mostly used for pasture, and we see at most a few vine terraces amid the fields of cattle (well, and the occasional factory chimney).


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According to the Slovenians, when God shook the world out of its sack, a tiny crumb remained in the bottom corner. The creator put this tiny crumb in the middle of Europe, thus granting to this place mountains, sea, and unbelievable natural wonders. This little crumb became Slovenia. And it’s true, this isn’t a big place: Slovenia covers just 20,273km2 – that’s about the size of Massachusetts – but within that area there are over 150 mountain peaks over 2000m, and its western frontier is washed by the warm waters of the Adriatic.

Though this small country has almost every conceivable kind of natural wonder, there’s one thing it doesn’t have: a distinct national culture. Instead, towards each border the culture of the neighboring country can be sensed: towards the coast it feels Croatian and Italian, then more like Austria in the north. In the east, meanwhile, the influence of its neighbor Hungary becomes more apparent. Still, the unparalleled richness and diversity of its natural landscapes are enough to make Slovenia a truly capitating destination.


Practicals

Transport

“The police will punish the slightest violation, and are on the hunt for speeders! It’s IMPORTANT to know that as a foreigner if you are penalized and you pay immediately on the spot, you only have to pay half the value of the fine. However, to avoid corruption, the police cannot give change. That is, if they cut the fine to, say, 80 euros, you can’t give 100 euros and then expect 20 back from the police officer. That doesn’t happen. That's why it's so important to keep small denomination notes with you when you’re traveling by car.
The highway ‘vignette’ or pass is insanely expensive, and the shortest duration you can purchase is seven days! The condition of the roads is good overall. When the better weather arrives, cyclists and motorcyclists cover the roads, and it's worth paying attention to them!
It’s also important to know that most tourist sites are very poorly signposted (if at all) so it’s a good idea to work out in advance exactly where the destination is, e.g. on the internet (descriptions / GPS coordinates, etc.) because if you don’t know what you’re looking for or where it is, you’ll be in trouble!” (B.m 2017)

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Parking

“Parking in Slovenia

I’d like to address this topic because for anyone traveling by car, it’s an ever-present issue. But the whole thing isn’t so complicated once you get the hand of it. Basically, it works as follows: in parking lots, the location of cars on the concrete is drawn in different colors. If the parking space is painted blue or marked by a blue outline (usually a parking meter symbol is also shown next to the letter P, and the price is marked) then it is a paid parking lot. If it’s yellow, then it means for some reason you can’t park there, or only if you have a certain permit (hotel guest, hospital worker, etc.), and if it’s white, then it’s free. But… don’t let your guard down just because it’s white, meaning free, since it may only be free during a certain period or periods. So even if the strip is white, you still need to look at the sign at the entrance to the parking lot. If there’s nothing there but a big letter P, then okay, it’s always free. However, if you have a sign with text, it is good to be aware of what is on the sign, because the sign can also show how many are free, or when they are free, or for how many hours from the start of parking.

Many restaurants, B&Bs, hotels, boarding houses, and tourist places state that only guests can park there, but if there aren’t many guests, they probably won’t come out with a rolling pin if you stop there for 10 minutes. On the Slovenian coast, you also have to account for the fact that the information board is only displayed in Slovenian and Italian.

There are 2-3 free parking lots in Izola, and maybe more, but if you’re looking for a lot that’s free 24 hours a day, and big enough to find a space, there’s only one. As you come down the main road to Izola, to the right you’ll see a lot of big boats, a harbor, and lots of parking spaces in front of it. Well, half of them you have to pay for, while the other half is free for 12 hours (here you put a little piece of paper on the windscreen to show when you parked), so this isn’t totally ideal. But across the way (across the road, so to the left of the main road), where the stadium is, and in front of some bars, there’s a larger parking lot in front of these pubs, which is completely free, always, and we always found a free parking space there. And not far from the central part of Izola, so about 10-15 minutes on foot.” (2019)



Food

"We never ate badly in Slovenian restaurants, but nor did we have a really memorable gastronomic experience. We may have chosen the wrong restaurants. It is also possible that we too often stuck to mediocre but safe terrain: pizzerias. It seems that due to Slovenia’s proximity to Italy, their pizzas are delicious and big. So big, in fact, that we often noticed the locals opting to buy one pizza and share it between two.” (J.K.)

Public safety

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Slovenia - police performance

Background

Slovenia - national flag - slovenska državna zastava

Destination in brief

Slovenia in brief


Slovenia is in Central Europe and is not considered a Balkan country, although its southern part is located on the Balkan Peninsula. Neighbors: Austria (north), Italy (west), Croatia (south), Hungary (northeast).
 
Size: 20,273 km² (7,827.4 mi²) - Slovenia has a 47 km (29 mi) sliver of coastline nestled between Italy to the north and Croatia to the south. Slovenian beaches are typically pebbly, or rocky, with some parts having dark sand or even some concrete. The seawater there is very clean and appeasingly smooth.
 
Capital city: Ljubljana – pop. 287,000 (2020) – Ljubljana means “beloved” in Slovenian.
 
Population: 2 million (2020) - The Slovenes, also known as Slovenians, are a South Slavic ethnic group, native to Slovenia.
 
Language: Slovenian - Slovenian belongs to the same South Slavic language family as Serbian and Croatian. It is however a distinct language, and most people in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia have difficulty understanding Slovenian. Slovenian is written using the basic Latin alphabet, with a few added letters.
 
Religion: 58% Catholic – About 21% of the population does not practice any religion.
 
Political system: Republic
 
Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia between 1918-1991.
 
Slovenia is a well-kept, exemplarily organized, clean country, and it is by far the wealthiest among the ex-Yugoslav countries.
 
Currency: Euro
 
Average net monthly salary: 1,050 Euro (2020)
 
Slovenia is cheaper than Italy but more expensive that Croatia.
 
Most common surname: Novak
 
Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, was born in Slovenia. Melania cake. Melania cream. Melania wine. Melania tea. Melania slippers. Melania salami. Melania chocolate-coated apple slices. These are some of the products sold by some enterprising people of Sevnica, a small, rural Slovenian town where Melania Trump spent her formative years. 

Safety: Totally safe tourist destination - one of the safest country in the world.

Top tourist attractions:
Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj, rafting on the Soča river in Bovec, Postojna Cave Park, Lipica Stud Farm, Škocjan Caves, Piran, Logar Valley Landscape Park, Vintgar Gorge, Slap Savica


People

“About the Slovenes

Slovenes are laid-back, good-natured people who love humor and sincere laughter. Slovenian humor generally isn’t very broad but can be gently, ironically mocking. Slovenes are somewhat prone to melancholy, which is well expressed in their poems and songs. The overall atmosphere is similar to the Austrian Gemütlichkeit. Slovenes are definitely more optimistic than Hungarians. Perhaps it can also be generalized that Slovenians are often envious of the success of the other. Those who are doing well financially can expect envy from many of those around them. Envy among neighbors is said to be proverbially strong.
Slovenes are conscientious, hardworking, and proud. They are proud that their country is far more successful than the other successor states of the former Yugoslavia, despite the economic problems that are now accumulating. They do not even consider themselves a Balkan people, but rather a group of more civilized interlopers in the region. Slovenes consider these to be the most important values in life: family, health, and fairness. The Slovenian language itself is of great importance in the Slovenian national consciousness. Slovenes immerse themselves in their hobbies with great enthusiasm and energy, as they do in all their free-time activities. Many Slovenes want to test their perseverance by living their leisure passions, wanting to prove themselves and their environment. Maybe that’s why they indulge in so many extreme sports or challenging activities like climbing. Although Slovenes are quite individualistic, they can feel and show strong solidarity with others, especially those within the national community, in time of need.
According to tourist feedback, Slovenes can be standoffish with foreign visitors, but this is by no means a sign of antipathy. It’s quite evident that they can pretty easily loosen up among themselves, and even with tourists – provided they turn out to be good company, of course. Slovenians are essentially hospitable, open people. Slovenes take friendship seriously. If they get along well with a foreign visitor, they can even make a lasting friendship. The fact that Slovenes speak foreign languages well is also a big help for tourists – they are far better than other countries in the region, such as Hungary, in this respect. Slovenes can, at the same time, be very critical of foreign tourists. They are able to express themselves quite openly if the tourist does not adapt properly to the local customs and rules. It is a common custom in the everyday life of Slovenes that they are happy to go to a café after work or go shopping to chat with friends. Slovenians like to beautify their home environment with flowers and do a lot of gardening and DIY at home to beautify their apartment or house, garden, or the street outside their door. On weekends, many people go mountain climbing, walking, and skiing. In summer, of course, they head to the beach. Many people have noted that Slovenes living on the coast are more laid-back and direct than those living in the interior of the country.
    

Tourist etiquette


1. Although Slovenes generally know foreign languages (English, Italian, German), they appreciate the effort when a foreign tourist uses Slovenian to greet them (dober dan), say please (prosim) or thanks (hvala).

2. Slovenes do not really practice tipping in their own country. If they do, they generally just round off the amount billed. With this in mind, tourists really ought to tip only if they want to reward outstanding service. Otherwise, we can adapt to the locals in this regard (as well).

3. When eating with Slovenians, don’t insist on discussing specific business topics, because they prefer to have a more relaxed conversation. Slovenians are hard-working people, but they also like to relax and unwind, especially during a conversation over a meal. Also, they don’t like to be too intrusively curious about a foreign visitor unless the atmosphere becomes friendlier over time.

4. When shaking hands with locals, make it a firm but friendly handshake, not limp or reluctant.

5. Slovenes are generally more likely to sympathize with a foreigner who is modest rather than over-confident, and who abides by old-fashioned rules of formal courtesy. (After all, this used to be part of the punctilious Habsburg Empire.)

6. Slovenes do not like it when their country is described as "Eastern European". For geographical and historical reasons, they consciously consider themselves Western European. Based on their high standard of living, they find it particularly offensive to be ‘lumped in’ with the poorer and more benighted Eastern Europeans in casual remarks. Interestingly, however, memories of the Yugoslav past are not unpleasant for everyone. Most Slovenes, for example, speak of Tito with affection, especially since the mother of the former Yugoslav communist leader was Slovenian (while his dad was Croatian). As far as Yugoslavia is concerned, what is most inconvenient for them is that today, unlike Slovenia, several successor states have low international prestige (e.g. Serbia). However, it is also a fact that many Slovenes react badly when a foreigner insists on bringing up the country’s Yugoslav past.

7. Be aware that Slovenes, no matter how small their country and its population, are full of national pride and are especially proud of their cultural heritage.

8. Slovenians like order and tidiness, keep their streets clean and neat and take it extremely badly if they see a foreigner littering in their country.

9. Slovenians appreciate punctuality, so it’s worth accommodating oneself to them in this as well.

10. Slovenians typically greet close friends with three kisses on the cheek. Don’t try this on people you don’t know (this isn’t Argentina).


Attractions

Piran

Piran - f.c. photo

Piran - view - j.k. photo

Piran - f.c. photo

Piran - Martha's photo

Piran - f.c. photo

Portoroz

Maribor

Maribor - Old Bridge - k.-t.g. photo

Bled

Koper

Bovec

Škofja Loka

Slovenia - Slovenia - Škofja Loka - m.k. photo

Slovenia - Škofja Loka - m.k. photo

Slovenia - Škofja Loka - m.k. photo

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