We’re sticking with the Balkans and venturing a little farther north into Slovenia. Bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the north east and Croatia to the south, Slovenia has a tiny bit of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. It is a mostly mountainous country. The capital is Ljubljana which for some reason makes me smile. Maybe because it sounds like you need to be underwater to pronounce it correctly. With only 2 million people and half of the country covered in forest, Slovenia seems an ideal place to get away from the crowds that consume many European countries.
The first photo I saw of Ljubljana, I thought it was the canals of St. Petersburg and had to double checked the caption. And with less than 300,000 inhabitants Slovenia’s largest city shouldn’t be too crowded. Ljubljana was voted the Green Capital of Europe for 2016 and cars are restricted in the city center so it sounds like a pedestrian paradise. And there’s a castle. You can get to it by a funicular (if you don’t fancy the hike up the hill) and they have Time Machine Tours, although unfortunately they’re not led by Dr. Who.
Another not-to-miss attraction in Ljubljana is the market. If possible, go on a Friday in summer when it's the venue for Odprta Kuhna, a weekly food fair with local and international specialties cooked on site from restaurants around the city and beyond (source: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/slovenia/ljubljana/sights/markets-bazaars/central-market#ixzz4HQ8g1pXE). Yum, sounds delicious, especially when I read that Slovenians are obsessed with using only fresh, locally sourced ingredients. I’d probably have to roll my husband who is a foodie away from here.
The country is also known for its abundance of clean water and its thermal hot springs. According to the Slovenia info site, all the health resorts are located in “the heart of intact nature.” Some of the photos look truly stunning so if rest and relaxation are on your to-do list then you may have found your next destination. If you prefer something more active then you can choose from skiing, walking/hiking, horseback riding, rafting or cycling. Or my favorite sport, walking along a beach.
If you do travel here, take a jaunt to Lake Bled, the iconic Slovenian destination with mountain peaks, alpine meadows, and a lake complete with an island and a castle. And if you want a truly European memory, time your visit for the third Sunday in September and attend the Cows’ Ball in Bohinj when the cows return from the summer pasture and are decorated with wreaths and paraded back to their farms accompanied by the herders, cheesemakers, milkmaids and other farming types. You might just want to watch where you step.
Slovenia, yet another country vying for a stop on my European itinerary. See you back here on September 1 when we’ll visit Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ciao for now.