6.12.09 Lovely Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana Travel Blog› entry 85 of 114 › view all entries
I'm struck with awe at the thought of being in Slovenia. I must admit complete ignorance of this tiny, beautiful country. Are you too wondering what it is like? What things *feel* like? Let me share a little.
It looks a lot like Germanyand Austria, with rolling fields, Alpsin the distance, and beautiful rivers going through the towns. There are special hayracks for drying using the wind and sun, which are often doubles and considered a national symbol. There seems to be a lot of land for the 2 million people.
The people are all very attractive with bodies that have been carved muscular by outdoor adventures: hiking, camping, caving, skiing.
The dress is rather casual with jeans and pants, but usually flats for women, rarely tennis shoes for either (an American phenomenon, indeed).
The roads are perfect- you'd think you were on the best highways in the U.S.
The people we have met have been very nice, most are exceptional with English, and very articulate and helpful. They seem relaxed and while not jubilant, very at peace. I don't feel stress or worry, but enjoyment of others in their interactions.
We drove to the Ljubljana campground and then rode the bus into Ljublijana city today (Buses 11 and 6 go all the way into the old city, but 8 stops further north from the campground and then whizzed by us as we exited opposite the cg where Bus 11 and 8 turn around, so we don't know where it stops on the return to the cg)- the bus was 1E each person, each way (no child price), payable to the driver in coins only.
The buildings in town were a mixed bag: some of the buildings were unattractive, grey squares of crumbling concrete block. Other buildings were exquisite, picturesque, and charming.
The old city of Ljubljana was gorgeous.
We bought some local earrings and enjoyed talking with the artist/shop owner, who spoke perfect English. A man came up and they conversed in Italian until she didn't understand something, and so they switched to Spanish. Afterward, I questioned how she knew English so well and she basically said:
"We learn English for 8 years and our schools have incredibly high standards for English.
It was sunshiny and we got hot today! After returning on the bus (thankfully the bus home had air conditioning), we changed into our swimsuits.
This Ljubljana campground, like the Lake Bled, Slovenia campground, is a resort. Camping in Europe is very popular as a means of relaxing. Camping is not the work that we make it in the U.S. There are campground restaurants for eating local food, all sorts of campground sports amenities, local transportation, etc.
So here at this resort campground, there is a huge pool park- a combination of about 60 water features- fountains, pools, hot tubs, playgrounds- I'll try to share a picture. Tickets are provided free for campground (and hotel- there is a small hotel here) guests, but I don't know the daily price.
The kids were stunned when, as I'd forewarned them, there was a lady sunbathing topless.
They laughed aloud when I told them that a replica of Michelangelo's David in a shopping center at home in Texashad to be covered with a sheet when people complained about David's nudity. We definitely draw the line more on the side of modesty than culture in theU.S.
We bought wonderful fruit and vegetables this morning at the Lake Bled Campground store, along with ham, cheese, bread, milks, and fresh bread that we must slice ourselves (there are not loaves of sliced, processed bread to be found anywhere these past 2 or so weeks- but this tastes better and is freshly made).
Okay, I admit it. Jazy has now surpassed me on the public transportation skills. She is now the one who writes out the questions and asks them, locates the bus and metro lines and stops, determines the correct bus stop, tells me where and when to get on and off, and argues with me until it is determined (drat!) that she is right yet again. I am very impressed with her skills.
Summarizing Slovenia: I've been very pleasantly surprised with Slovenia. The people seem pleasant and happy; the land is gorgeous, roadways excellent, the prices reasonable for the services, and the weather delightful.
Summarizing Austria: We loved Austria! It had so many beautiful Alps, tiny villages nestled at the mountain bases, shockingly beautiful rivers, and nice people. Jazy and I were really quite surprised at how every person who entered or exited the hotel (we were using the lobby wifi), greeted us! Austria's cities are beautiful, but not overwhelming in size. It is just a delightful, gorgeous country. I could be happy for many months enjoying the small-towns, lovely horses with carriages, sparkling natural beauty with clean air, and the kind and personable Austrians.
Summarizing Germany: We've only seen the southern half of Germany so far and found it very beautiful. Drivers on the famous autobahns (without speed limits) did not seem as fast as the drivers in Italy- and most highways appeared to have speed limits. The German drivers were careful and precise in their driving, but appeared rather impatient and irritable much of the time. There were other times when we saw people sharing harsh words (got in each other's way at the gas station) or acting exasperated even when trying to help us.
To generalize: Germany seemed to be a lovely country of rather uptight people- not wound quite as tightly as the U.S., but not as relaxed and happy as most other countries we've visited.
Summarizing Switzerland: I appreciated the distinctly Swiss feeling, the dramatic Alps that are *right there*, the wonderful food (fondue, chocolate, Swiss cheese, Heidi dairy products), and the cleanliness of the sparkling country. The prices were fortunately not as high as I'd remembered, relative to other countries. I did not however feel like the people were particularly glad to interact with tourists. Our campgrounds were pretty, but not run to the perfect English campground standard.