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Holidays in Slovenia

Understanding Slovenia

History

Slavic ancestors of Slovenians came from eastern parts of Europe and inhabited territory north of present Slovenian territory in the 6th century AD They established a state called Caranthania Karantanija in Slovene, which was an early example of parliamentary democracy in Europe The ruler knez in Slovene was elected by popular vote The Caranthanians were later defeated by Bavarians and Franks who subjugated them They were christianized but they preserved many rituals of their pagan religion, and above all they preserved their native language The Slovene lands were part of the Holy Roman Empire and Austria under Habsburg dynasty until 1918 when the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new south-Slavic state ruled by Serbian Karađorđević dynasty called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians "Kraljevina Srbov, Hrvatov in Slovencev" in Slovene, renamed Yugoslavia in 1929 In WWII, Slovenia was invaded and occupied by Germans, Italians and Hungarians, leading to a parallel civil war between pro-communist liberation forces Partizani and axis-sponsored anti-communist reactionary factions "Belogardisti" and Domobranci The victory of the Allies and consequently the Partizans resulted in a violent mass exodus of those who had fought with with the occupying forces, including most of the native German and Italian minorities After World War II, Slovenia became a republic in the reestablished Yugoslavia, which although Communist, distanced itself from the Soviet bloc and small territorial gains were made from Italy Dissatisfied with the exercise of power in Belgrade, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 with minimal bloodshed In 2004, Slovenia joined the European Union and NATO Most recently, Slovenia adopted the euro in 2007, completing a quick and efficient accession to Europe and the EU

Independence 
25 June 1991 from Yugoslavia
National holiday 
Statehood Day, 25 June 1991
Independence and Unity Day, 26 December 1990
Constitution 
adopted 23 December 1991, effective 23 December 1991

Historical ties to Central Europe, a strong economy, and relativly stable democracy make Slovenia one of leading country among the new members of the EU and NATO

Culture

Totalitarian disco

We are no ordinary type of group
We are no humble pop musicians
We don't seduce with melodies
And we're not here to please you
We have no answers to your questions
Yet we can question your demands

Without a doubt Slovenia's most misunderstood export, industrial band Laibach and their Neue Slowenische Kunst NSK collective emerged from the coal mining town of Trbovlje to smash their first sledgehammer in 1980 and, despite the best efforts of the state they skewered, went on to outlast Yugoslavia and are still going strong Using totalitarian imagery stretched to the limit, with band members decked out in military uniforms, memorable moments include reworking Queen's starry-eyed "One Nation" into a Wagnerian march sung in German, of course that would make a Teuton blanch Keep an eye on the NSK website 2 and try to catch a concert when in town

For a small country, Slovenes are fiercely proud of their culture Two names you will run into over and over again are national poet France Prešeren 1800-1849, who penned among other things the Slovenian national anthem, and the architect Jože Plečnik 1872-1957, credited with Ljubljana's iconic Tromostovje bridges and, seemingly, half the modern buildings in the country It was the monks of the Catholic Church that kept Slovene alive over the centuries of relentless Germanization from the north As a result Slovene survived in its unique form different than Serbo-Croatian to the south Part of both the countryside and city architecture in Julian Alps shares a lot in common with neighboring Austria, including countless roadside shrines and pretty baroque steeples, giving the interior of the nation a truly alpine flavor One could easily mistake parts of mountainous Slovenia for Tyrol, Salzburg or Bavaria In modern times, industrial band Laibach see box has served to put Slovenia on the map In the decades before them, Slavko Avsenik and his Oberkrainer that's what Germans named him; means Upper Carniolian - Slovene did the same

Climate

Mediterranean climate on the coast, mountain climate in Alps with mild summers and freezing winters and continental climate with hot summers and freezing winters in the plateaus and valleys to the east

Terrain

A short coastal strip on the Adriatic, an Alpine mountain region adjacent to Italy and Austria, mixed mountain and valleys with numerous rivers to the east and Pannonian Basin in northeast Central Ljubljana valley with Ljubljana marshes in the southern part In the southwest there is the Karst Kras in Slovene, Carso in Italian where the name for karst topography actually comes from The Karst region is a barren but beautiful limestone region directly north of the Italian city of Trieste

Natural hazards 
flooding and earthquakes
highest point: Triglav 2,864 m
lowest point: Adriatic sea 0 m

Talking in Slovenia

Slovene, the national language, is spoken as mother tongue by 91% of the population, but there are also small Italian concentrated on the Primorska coast and somewhat bigger Hungarian in Prekmurje to the northeast minorities Historically, and prior to the end of WWII there was also a significant German speaking minority Most people you come into contact with as a tourist, especially younger ones, will speak English, and if not they'll almost certainly speak either Italian or German or most certainly Serbo-Croatian

When speaking in English, use a simple language, no fancy stuff as anywhere where English is not a native language It will get you further and help to avoid any misunderstandings The Slovenian school system promotes the teaching of many languages, especially English and German from elementary school on Children study two foreign languages most commonly English and German, sometimes French by the time they get to high school A typical high school often has a third foreign language usually Spanish, Russian French or Italian Young people usually speak English quite fluently, also because there is no dubbing on television in the native language and the wide-spread use and availability of Internet However, learning a few words of the local language will earn you a great deal of respect The level of English is very high when compared with most European countries

The related Serbo-Croatian is widely understood and spoken fluently by anyone who was schooled before 1991, the same goes for reading and writing the Cyrillic alphabet, but they all understand it including younger people, as it goes for all Slavic languages Slovak, Russian, Macedonian, Bulgarian etc Many Slovenes have some functional knowledge of German widely spoken in Eastern Slovenia, English and Italian Italian is a co-official language in the coastal region and the area surrounding Trieste, Italy Similarly, Slovene is spoken in many parts of Italy close to Slovenia It is also spoken in southern Austria Carinthia Koroška, parts of Styria Štajerska and Burgenland Gradiščanska, in southwestern Hungary Venvidék Porabje and along slovenian border in Croatia

What to do in Slovenia

There are many great opportunities for activity holidays in Slovenia: The mountains and rivers of the Julian Alps provide the perfect location for hiking, mountain biking, rafting and kayaking The southern part of Slovenia is an area of numerous caves You can enjoy different spa resorts in the eastern part, take a dive in the Adriatic Sea, experience the Slovene cities, go skiing, or enjoy in the countryside tasting Slovene cuisine and local wine

  • Adrenaline adventures in the Posočje area, you can stay in Ljubljana and a short distance away discover the amazing North-Western area of Slovenia called Posočje and Triglav National Park -- canyoning, rafting, para-gliding and much more! *While Slovenia is a small country, you can discover it in a few days Therefore you can visit the capital Ljubljana, Alps, Karst region, alpine lakes and much more
  • There are more than 8000 known caves in Slovenia, including the tourist areas of Postojna and UNESCO site Škocjan
  • Take advantage of beautiful nature in the Alps and go hiking, cross-country skiing or nordic walking
  • Visit of one many spa resorts in Slovenia
  • Visit Slovene seaside and swim in the Adriatic Sea Try local sea food and visit the towns of Piran and Portorož
  • Visit one of the golf courses in Slovenia
  • Skiing in the Julian Alps is popular in the winter More popular ski resorts are: Krvavec, Vogel, Rogla, Cerkno, Kanin, Mariborsko Pohorje

Buying stuff in Slovenia

Slovenia entered the Eurozone on January 1st, 2007 and now utilises the euro €, EUR as its currency, having previously used the Slovenian tolar SIT

Prices are quite high compared to most of Eastern Europe except Croatia, but lower compared to Italy or Austria Although prices do vary quite a bit It really depends on your location For example, a beer 0,5 litre in a pub in "Stara Ljubljana" literally "Old Town Ljubljana" would cost you around €300, while a beer outside Ljubljana would cost around €080 A budget minded traveller can hold his own, if he is smart For example buying your groceries in a large store supermarket, such are Mercator, Tuš, Spar, ELeclerc etc, will be likely cheaper than buying on the market, or in a small store, etc

A value-added tax VAT of 20% with a reduced rate of 8% usually applied to food, including some soft drinks is charged on most purchases—this is always included in the price displayed Note that if you are not an EU citizen, you are entitled to VAT tax return for purchases over a certain value Ask the cashier to write down your name on your bill racun and show this bill when you leave Slovenia through Brnik airport, or any of the main border crossings with Croatia

Tipping

Communist-style "service with a snarl" Tips for service are now generally expected at sit-down restaurants, with 10% considered standard for foreigners Note that Slovenes do not tip!

Food and eating in Slovenia

People from Slovenian northern neighbour Austria come to Slovenia just for the food, cause with Subalpine, Italian, Hungarian and Balkan mixture most people will find something to their liking - unless they're strict vegetarians Many say that the pizza here is as good or even better as in neighboring Italy

Cuisine

Generally speaking, Slovenian food is heavy, meaty and plain A typical three-course meal starts with a soup juha, often just beef goveja or chicken piščančja broth with egg noodles rezanci, and then a meat dish served with potatoes krompir and a vinegary fresh salad solata Fresh bread kruh is often served on the side and is uniformly delicious

Common mains include cutlets zrezek, sausage klobasa and goulash golaž, all usually prepared from pork svinjina, lamb jagnjetina and game divjačina, but there is a large choice of fish ribe and seafood even further away from the coast Popular Italian imports include all sorts of pasta testenine, pizza pica, ravioli žlikrofi and risotto rižota A major event in the countryside still today is the slaughtering of a pig from which many various products are made: blood sausage krvavica, roasts pečenka, stuffed tripe polnjeni vampi, smoked sausage prekajena salama, salami salama, ham šunka and bacon slanina Recipes for the preparation of poultry perutnina, especially turkey puran, goose gos, duck raca and capon kopun, have been preserved for many centuries Chicken piščanec is also common Squid is fairly common and reasonably priced

Uniquely Slovenian dishes are available, but you won't find them on every menu, so here are some to look out for:

  • Kraški pršut - air-dried ham, similar to but not the same as Italian prosciutto
  • štruklji - dumplings which Slovenians prepare in 70 different ways stuffed with sweet fillings, meat or vegetables
  • žganci - a type of polenta
  • žlikrofi - potato dumplings similar to gnocchi, specialty of the Idria region
  • jota - a type of soup made of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon, spare ribs, and the main seasoning is garlic

Some Slovenian desserts can also be found:

  • potica - a type of nut roll for holiday occasions also prepared with the widest variety of fillings
  • gibanica - a very heavy cakelike pastry of poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, cheese etc, topped with cream

Places to eat

At the top of the food chain is the restavracija, a fancy restaurant with waiters and tablecloths More common in the countryside are the gostilna and gostišče, rustic inns serving hearty Slovene fare Lunch sets dnevno kosilo cost around €7 for three courses soup, salad and main and are usually good value

Fast food, invariably cheap, greasy and more often than not terrible — it's best to steer clear of the local mutation of the hamburger — is served up in grills and snack bars known as okrepčevalnica, where trying to pronounce the name alone can cause indigestion There is no real Slovenian fast food, but Slovenians have adopted greasy Balkan grills like pljeskavica a spiced-up hamburger patty and čevapčiči spicy meatballs are ubiquitous, but one of the most tasty options is the Bosnian speciality burek, a large, flaky pastry stuffed with meat mesni, cheese sirni or apple jabolčni, often sold for as little as €2

Dietary restrictions

Slovenia is not the easiest of places for a vegetarian, although even the smokiest inn can usually whip up a decent fresh salad solata on request Some dumplings and other dishes with cheese sir are vegetarian, and in the cities the Mediterranean chick-pea staple falafel and its cousin the vegiburger have made some inroads on fast-food menus Many restaurants offer a "vegetarian plate", which includes potatoes, fresh or boiled vegetables and soya "steak" There are a rising number of vegetarian restaurants in the cities, particularly in Ljubljana In cities on the coast there is a paradise for vegetarians Local specialities are fish, squids, mussels and octopus

Drinking in Slovenia

In proper Slovene style, all bases are covered for drinks and you can get very good Slovenian beers, wines and spirits Tap water is generally drinkable except for coast

Coffee and tea

In Slovenia, coffee kava usually means a tiny cup of strong Turkish coffee prepared in Bosnian style, and cafes kavarna are a common sight with a basic cup costing €100-€150 One can also order coffee with milk kava z mlekom or whipped cream kava s smetano Coffee culture is wide-spread in Slovenia, and one can see Slovenes with friends sitting in the same café for hours Tea čaj is nowhere near as popular, and if they do drink it, Slovenes prefer all sorts of fruit-flavored and herbal teas over a basic black cup

Beer

Beer pivo is the most popular tipple and the main brands are Laško and Union Adam Ravbar beer is good quality and is usually hard to find anywhere except in their small brewery located in Domžale, a town about 10 km north of Ljubljana A bottle or jug will cost you €250 in a pub pivnica Ask for veliko large for 05L and malo small for 03L

Wine

Despite what you might think if you've ever sampled an exported sickly sweet Riesling, Slovenian wine vino can be quite good — they keep the best stuff for themselves Generally, the Goriška brda region produces the best reds and the drier whites in a more Italian/French style, while the Štajerska region produces the best semi-dry to sweet whites, which cater more to the German/Austrian-type of palate Other local specialities worth sampling are Teran, a very dry red from the Kras region, and Cviček, a red so dry and light it's almost a rosé Wine is usually priced and ordered by the decilitre deci, pronounced "de-tsee", with a deci around one euro and a normal glass containing about two deci

Spirits

A Slovene brandy known as žganje, not unlike the Hungarian palinka, can be distilled from almost any fruit Medeno žganje also known as medica has been sweetened with honey Vodka is, as in most of Slavic nations, also very popular, especially among youger generation

Accommodation in Slovenia

Slovenia has a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from five star hotels to secluded cottages in the mountains


Hostels

There are hostels in all of the tourist destinations in Slovenia The average price for a basic bed in a dorm is €10-€20 euro Quite a few student dormitories dijaški dom are converted into hostels in the summer, but these tend to be poorly located and somewhat dingy

Mountain Huts can be found in Triglav National Park, and they are very warm, welcoming and friendly Information about these huts can be found at tourist information offices who will also help you plan your walks around the area and phone the hostels to book them for you The only way to get to the huts is by foot, and expect a fair bit of walking up hills, as the lowest huts are around 700m up There are clear signs/information around stating how long it will take to travel to/between all the huts indicated in hours

Tourist farms

Tourist farms can be found around Slovene countryside and usually they offer wide selection of traditional food, local wine, different sport activities etc They also offer opportunities to experience real traditional countryside life

Camping

Camping is not permitted in the national parks of Slovenia, but there are various designated camping grounds It's advisable to take a camping mat of some sort, as nice, comfortable grass is a luxury at camp sites and you're much more likely to find pitches consisting of small stones

Working in Slovenia

It's possible for English-speaking graduates to get work in a Slovene school teaching English for around a year in a scheme similar to Japan's JET programme

Cities in Slovenia

ajdovscina  ankaran  beltinci  bled  borovnica  brezice  brezovica pri ljubljani  celje  cerknica  crna na koroskem  crnomelj  domzale  dravograd  gornja radgona  grosuplje  hrastnik  idrija  ig  ilirska bistrica  izola  jagodje  jesenice  kamnik  kocevje  koper  kranj  kranjska gora  kromberk  krsko  lasko  lenart  lendava  lesce  limbus  litija  ljubljana  ljutomer  logatec  lovrenc na pohorju  lucija  maribor  medvode  menges  metlika  mezica  miklavz na dravskem polju  mislinja  mozirje  murska sobota  muta  nova gorica  novo mesto  ormoz  pesnica pri mariboru  piran  pivka  polzela  portoroz  postojna  prevalje  ptuj  race  radece  radenci  radlje ob dravi  radovljica  rakek  ravne  rence  ribnica  rogaska slatina  ruse  sempeter  sempeter  sencur  senovo  sentjur  sevnica  sezana  skofja loka  skofljica  slovenj gradec  slovenska bistrica  slovenske konjice  solkan  sostanj  spodnja idrija  spodnje hoce  store  straza  tolmin  trbovlje  trebnje  trzic  trzin  velenje  verd  vir  vnanje gorice  vojnik  vrhnika  vrtojba  zagorje ob savi  zalec  zelezniki  ziri  zrece  

What do you think about Slovenia?

How expensive is Slovenia?
(1 EUR = 1.09 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant7.76 EUR
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)33.12 EUR
McDonalds meal4.85 EUR
Local beer (0.5 draft)1.98 EUR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 2.76 EUR
Cappuccino1.32 EUR
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)2.12 EUR
Water (0.33 bottle)1.18 EUR
Milk (1l)0.84 EUR
Fresh bread (500g)1.01 EUR
White Rice (1kg)1.67 EUR
Eggs (12) 2.16 EUR
Local Cheese (1kg) 7.88 EUR
Chicken Breast (1kg) 6.29 EUR
Apples (1kg) 1.36 EUR
Oranges (1kg) 1.33 EUR
Tomato (1kg) 1.49 EUR
Potato (1kg) 0.8 EUR
Lettuce (1 head) 0.9 EUR
Water (1.5l)0.63 EUR
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 3.84 EUR
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)0.99 EUR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.28 EUR
Cigarettes4.19 EUR
One way local bus ticket1.33 EUR
Monthly pass for bus34.41 EUR
Taxi start1.65 EUR
Taxi 1km0.95 EUR
Taxi 1hour waiting16.58 EUR
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.39 EUR
Utilities for a "normal" apartment246.14 EUR
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 11.2 EUR
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 421.21 EUR
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 257.08 EUR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 739.71 EUR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 472.75 EUR
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