Slovenia – Hidden gem of the Balkans: Part 3

When we got up in the morning to pack our stuff none of us were particularly upset about saying goodbye to Slovenia as we’d done as much as we could in the few days we’d been there and we were heading somewhere new so the trip wasn’t over yet. There was one last thing we had to do before we boarded our plane back to London; go and visit Tivoli City Park: the largest park in Ljubljana, although going in we weren’t wise as to what we were getting into. We started off just walking up the straight path leading to the mansion and the main part of the park; it was just open fields with a few trees dotted about with multiple mole hills sticking out of the foot deep snow, nothing extremely exciting… then we did as we had done so many times before: took ourselves off the trail. Strolling up one of the many paths into the more heavily forested area of the park, a stroll slowly become a climb and then a scramble up the hillsides through bushes and brambles we made it to the highest point of the park. It’s hard to do the view any justice with a photo so I won’t try, you’ll just have to go there and experience it for yourself.

After making it to the highest point of the park we called it a day and turned around… is precisely what didn’t happen, we proceeded to go deeper into the park, which slowly turned into more of a nature reserve than a city park with striking views and steep valley drops it didn’t feel like we were in the middle of a city anymore. So after getting super lost, again, finding what looked like an abandoned firewood shelter covered in Satanic symbols (not scary at all), ending up on the outskirts of the city and finally looping all the way back around a few more miles than we planned on doing we got back to a small village with a striking church we knew we’d already walked through. Only thing was we were about 20 metres lower than the last time we’d been through it; by this point of our trip we thought of ourselves as masters of the snowy hill so once again up we scrambled all the way to the top cursing about how much easier it’d have been in summer.

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So we made it back to the village and civilisation, it was smooth sailing after that… again, not what happened; walking along one of the paths that slowly snaked downwards, we thought, back down to the main park. Turns out we were wrong… again, and that we’d shortly be climbing up another steep, snow-covered hill, this one was only about 100 metres high so no biggy, oh yeah and there was a frozen river at the bottom… and we were on the wrong side and had to cross over a dead log covered in snow so we couldn’t tell what was log and what was cold, frozen abyss. Once again the intrepid explorers persevered and proved that English people are harder to kill than that. It actually was pretty smooth after that, back to the main part of the park and the hostel to get our taxi to the airport and that was it for this part of the trip.

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That’s the end of our Slovenia adventure but wait there’s more:

The people of Slovenia: Every single person we met and spoke to was incredibly nice, they all asked where we were from, what we were up to in Slovenia, why we’d picked Slovenia etc. no matter where I go it amazes me the level of English that other people can speak and Slovenia was no exception. The level some non-native speakers are at surpasses some English people I know, it’s amazing how they find it incredibly important to know but they aren’t irritated that we don’t know their language. Even people like bus drivers in the more remote places spoke perfect English and understood us just as well as anyone else. Slovenia, without a doubt, has the friendliest people I’ve ever met.

Ljubljana: The entire city was gorgeous and well-maintained; the snow was always shovelled to the sides of the road at God knows what time in the morning, I don’t remember seeing one piece of rubbish, piece of gum or cigarette end the entire time we were there; believe me I was looking to see if all the reviews online were true, they were. The city varied from the 17th Century Franciscan Church in the town square to a modern shopping main street just the next street over. Another prominent feature of the city was the graffiti that littered buildings all over, seemingly untouched by the local government. There was even a free graffiti tour that we were going to go on but didn’t have the time, I’m still unsure on why it’s such a big thing in the city.

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Hopefully by this point I’ve done a good job and made you realise Slovenia is an amazing place and 100% worth the trip so I just want to mention a few extra things we researched that the country has to offer but we didn’t get the chance to do ourselves, maybe one of these will appeal to you. Normally I’m against going to the same place twice and would rather visit somewhere new but I would love to see the country in summer, revisit the lakes and parks to see the views without the mist that we got while there; swimming in lake Bled and getting to the island. I’d also love to rent a car and drive around the mountain roads and Triglav park really admiring the places that are totally off the grid that the buses don’t visit; just generally exploring the amazing landscape and variety the country has to offer. To the West of Slovenia is a place called Soca Valley, renowned for its water sports and zip lining during summer and skiing in the winter. The country also contains numerous, huge cave systems to go exploring in, among these are: Postojna, the most visited and well-known in the country. Škocjan, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the biggest underground cave systems in the world, inhabited since the prehistoric age it’s developed its own ecosystem, this would definitely be my pick; finally there is Križna caves, a little bit different, these are more famous for their underwater lakes and rivers. Something many people, myself included, don’t realise about Slovenia is that it has a coastline; a small stretch that it shares with the Italian border, returning in the summer would be a perfect time to visit the small town of Koper in the South-West. So whether you want a small city break, a cultural journey, skiing, snowboarding, some beach time or just to explore the wilderness of a new country Slovenia has what you want, go and visit it sometime.

So that’s it for this part of the trip, we returned to Ljubljana airport and boarded a plane home for the 12 hour layover in Gatwick before onwards to Copenhagen. Slovenia had one last gorgeous view for us though upon take off, resulting in gasps all over the plane.

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