Slovenia, the hidden gem of Europe

By campodegelo

Christmas.

Apart of my childhood, before my cousin had not yet destroyed the image of Santa Claus from my imaginary, I never gave much importance to that occasion. At least not to the gift exchanges. I must say that I miss the huge meals, the family reunion, the special tv programs, the old routine.

When I decided to live abroad, I gave up some of that, but we still had each other, brother and sister living in the old continent. And that’s how we decided (together with our friend Jass) to enjoy our first Christmas out of Brazil and in a new place: Slovenia.

Do not confuse with Slovakia. Although they are not distant, they are very different.

One was part of the former Czechoslovakia and the other of Yugoslavia.
While Slovenia suffered of a war conflict, Slovakia separated from its Czech neighbour in a peaceful way.

The Slovak and Slovene languages ​​are different branches of the Slavic language, and although they have some similarities they differ.

In common the Austrian border, and the amount of parks and forests.

Departing to the south, crossing all of Germany and Austria, marveling by the snowy mountains, we arrive at Bled, a city marked by its lakes, castle and churches. In an island in the middle of  the main lake one finds the most famous church, being redoubt of marriages and romanticism. An addendum to the groom: prepare to carry the bride 99 steps up, if you really want to get married there.

December brought already the cold weather, and this country of countless radical activities was empty. Posters advertised rafting, trails, rappelling, but the blizzards did not allow the movement between the localities.

The Christmas dinner would be on us. Lentil, farofa (a brazilian delicatesse), and a tender fillet were carefully prepared and appreciated, and not even realizing that we had tasted horse meat took away our good mood.

Christmas markets are present in most European cities and there was no different in Slovenia. All this with the beauty of the lakes. A trip to Bohinj is also essential.

Trails around its crystal clear waters bring also little scary warnings: beware of bears!

More than 60 percent of the country is covered by forests, and more than 400 brown bears roam around, but there was no cause for concern. It was winter, so they were hibernating. It would not be bad if humans could follow this routine: to eat during warmer seasons, being able to sleep during the coldest months.

Rivers with blue and green tones left us stunned. Also important to mention that more than 10 thousand caves are scattered throughout the country and it was precisely to one of them (the best known, Postojna, with more than 20 km) that we went. Extremely well-kept, illuminated, and with giant stalagmites and stalactites. From there we would go to the castle of Predjama, an enclosure of countless bats and a castle stuck in a cave.

Between Postojna and Predjama there was no public transport and as we had not rented a car, fate reserved the opportunity for our first hitchhiking experience in Europe.

It was not long before two trucks stopped for us. Inside them a Bulgarian family heading to the mountains of Italy. Sympathy at the first glance in the few kilometers between one attraction and the other.

The castle itself is one of the most preserved ever seen.

Our last stop in this beautiful and surprising country would be in the capital, Ljubljana.

Largest city in Slovenia with approximately 280,000 inhabitants, its name means “The beloved one”, its fame is of being a new Berlin (with cafes and alternative places, like the Rog, an old abandoned factory with many graffiti) and in 2016 it was elected the green city of Europe.

Do not forget to try the Slovenian wines as well.

The symbol of the capital by itself already captivates: the dragon.

From Greek mythology it is said that Jason killed the dragon that inhabited there and thus founded the city.

True or not, the stories, food, natural beauty and its people have gained a place in our memories and hearts.

This entry was posted in Europe

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