Slovenia—a small country in central Europe that until 1991 was the northwestern-most province of Yugoslavia—bills itself as the sunny side of the Alps. That must be true, because the rain that had been dogging us for a month in northern Italy disappeared a few days after we crossed the border.
Of course, at that point it started getting hot (80s and 90s F) and humid. And we realized that summers in the air-conditioned United States hadn’t really prepared us for summer in non-air-conditioned Europe. Especially since (for whatever reason) every host we’ve stayed with in Slovenia lives on the top floor of his or her apartment building, the place where hot air goes to spend the night.
Why Slovenia, you might ask. Someone at Chris’s office highly recommended the Julian Alps of northern Slovenia (and we adore mountains); Melissa had heard that they were a bit less touristy and less expensive than other alpine areas; and Chris had always wanted to visit the capital city, Ljubljana, based solely on the fact that she likes the look and sound of the name (pronounced, roughly, Le-yub-le-yah-nah). Still, we didn’t really know what to expect from Slovenia.
What we found was a charming, friendly little country, where you can get from almost anywhere to anywhere in three hours, where much of the population speaks English, and where tourism is still new enough that the residents aren’t sick and tired of visitors (like, say, many Italians are). Above all, Slovenia is very green and is a great place for lovers of scenery and nature. So rural is this country’s heart that the unofficial national symbol is a traditional wooden rack for drying hay—something you can still find within a few kilometers of any city center. (Slovenia’s official symbol is its highest peak, Mount Triglav, which is another indication of just how outdoorsy a place this is.)
During our month in Slovenia (June 16 to July 17), we’ve seen many beautiful sights and met some great people. More on that to come soon—with pictures, of course.