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- Interaction with Locals
- Recommendation Level
- Route Maps
The area currently known as Slovenia was once a part of the Roman Empire until it was wrestled from the Holy Roman Empire’s grasp by the Habsburg Monarchy. It later fell into the Austria-Hungary alliance and then Yugoslavia before gaining independence in 1991. Slovenia is, thus, a country that has always found its geographic placement a bit unfortunate, and due to its size, it has fallen several times to whatever prevailing empire invades. Between WWI and WWII the area was annexed by the Germans, Italians, Hungarians and later by the Croatians before the Yugoslavians until independence. AS you can tell, its history is basically the history of a people constantly surviving under whichever thumb is pushing them into the muck that day. Despite this, Slovenia emerges today a beautiful, modern and peaceful place with a lot to offer. The country is part of the EU as well as NATO and the WTO, and its people live well, despite the country’s continued existence between several more influential powers.
Transportation in and out of Slovenia was awkward, as trains to nearby cities ran at strange times, our train to Venice a mere few hours away left at 3am. Be prepared for an adventure when traveling. Transportation in Ljubljana was expensive and confusing, and not entirely logical, but the old town area of Ljubljana was small enough that walking was not difficult for inner-city destinations.
Costs in Slovenia were relatively comparable to Western European prices, and they use the Euro, so for lesser-valued currencies the country seems expensive. Hostel and hotel costs seemed ridiculous at roughly 25 Euro a person for a bunk bed, while restaurant prices were so high we decided to grocery shop while in country and take our chances cooking over our tiny outdoor stove. We bought nothing else while in Slovenia due to higher costs and a poor USD-Euro exchange rate.
Exchange rate: 1 Euro to 1 USD = 1.3, or, 1 USD to Euro = 0.71
Eating in Slovenia is similar, if not identical, to eating in most European towns, with a delightful array of international cuisine and mom & pop shops. If there is a national cuisine, it was impossible to detangle it from the international foods also available. Sadly, we hardly partook in the local food and instead shopped for our own grub at the market.
Interaction with residents: Medium
The Old Town area is especially wonderful for deeper interaction with locals who primarily occupy tourist-related occupations in the area. Ljubljana was an especially friendly place, with helpful bartenders, waiters, passers-by and transportation professionals. We hiked around the capital city and into the citadel and Ljubljana castle in torrential rains and encountered only smiling people huddled under umbrellas or playing in puddles. It was a lovely place that I hope to return to someday.
Traveling into and out of the country requires patience and fortitude, we suggest trying to acquire bus, flight and train timetables prior to your visit so you can plan your time in Slovenia accordingly. We also suggest planning to spend more than anticipated on accommodation, which was extremely pricy in the country’s capital.
Importantly, the maps in the Lonely Planet are incorrect, and the maps at the information and tourism office are also wrong. Your best bet is to ask around, which is what we eventually had to do to find out hostel. Again, do not rely on the maps at the train or bus stations.
Ljubljana was a delightfully pleasant capital with a small-town feel. We walked up into the city’s overlooking castle which was free, and full of modern art presentations. Walking into many of the town’s massive churches are also free, and offer a great way to see the city’s past and religious history. Simply walking around town is a joy, since the architecture is astonishing and charming. We had a great time and look forward to returning.
Citizens of EU member countries and the United States do not need visas, check with your local embassy to find out if you are required to have a visa. Check the links on the left for more information.
We traveled from Croatia by train into Ljubljana, and from the capital to Venice, Italy, also by train.
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