Živijo iž Bleda,
If Portugal and Việt Nam were the cool destinations last decade, and Iceland and Cuba are the cool destinations now, what’s next? Slovenia! That’s my tip.
It’s been the genuine surprise packet of our trip so far. When Tino from Tarvisio (on the Italian side of the border) said, “Slovenia is very nice” he was being conservative with his language. It was almost like one national sheepishly admitting that another country had even more appeal than his own.
not to mention a certain First Lady
Our two forays into Slovenia have proven Tino to be understating the appeal. Forgive me, dear reader, if I overuse the same adjective in the next sentence. The countryside is varied (very mountainous at this south-east corner of the country), very green and the infrastructure is very modern and sophisticated. This is a proud member of the European Union and NATO with a thriving economy. Apart from the existence of one famous First Lady, we haven’t really had our attention drawn to Slovenia before now. It unquestionably has some great attributes.
Lake Bled is absolutely spectacular. Apart from the colour of the water (Linda is oscillating between “iridescent green”, “emerald” and “turquoise”), there is quite a bit of native bush on the foreshore (not over-developed). There is also a striking island in the middle (partially occupied by a church) as well as the massive rock overlooking the water with medieval castle on top.
On a sunny day, it’s a great place to swim (as we did) or go boating, fishing or – famously – rowing. There apparently was a bridge tournament held at Lake Bled last year in which the contestants could look over the lake and island from the bridge venue. Linda mused, “they’d have trouble concentrating, wouldn’t they?” It would have been an idyllic setting for the card play.
Ljubljana is the capital city, in roughly the centre of the country. It’s a sprawling, low-rise city with obligatory castle on the hill and meandering river through the centre. There’s no ugly high rise but plenty of freeways and good restaurants.
Slovenia only gained independence in 1991 (post Jugoslavia disintegration) but is well set up for customers like foreign tourists. During Tito’s rule (1947-1980) the workers were actively encouraged to take annual vacation – within and without their own country – so the infrastructure and culture for tourism already exists. The literacy rate is 100% (another legacy of the Tito regime) and most people seem to speak fluent English, which is obviously a prerequisite for tourism booms.
Slovenia = the next tourist boom
As well as these priceless attributes, Slovenia is a clearly civilised place. There are plentiful public toilets, wifi everywhere is free, car parks are fitted with car battery rechargers, strong occupational health and safety regulations exist and the water is clear and clean. They also have a fascinating social history (especially recent decades).
Linda also enjoyed her horse ride in the foothills near Zirovnica, including a sighting of a bear(!). They admittedly have some unpronounceable names and they might have to rename the Hotel Krim (but not the Grand Hotel Toplice) but there is much to like about the place.
Slovenia is set up to cater for modern tourists who demand more than sitting on a beach. Contemporary tourists want to actually do things on vacation and there is plenty to do here. It’s the new cool. That’s my tip anyway. You heard it here first!
Lepe poždrave iž Bleda