Slovenia is an ‘almost’ land locked country snuggled in between the Balkans and the Alps. It’s a beautiful country with diverse landscapes (from mountain to beaches) and it’s relatively ‘untouristed’, at least by Americans. The capital, Ljubljana, is widely known by the four people I asked as “the hardest capital city to pronounce”.
For the uninitiated, Ljubjlana is pronounced as Lyoob-lee-yana. Not Loo-Jub-lana. It was almost a litmus test when the border protection asked where I was headed. It was almost tantamount to saying San Jo-os. Any way, by the time I got to Ljublana it was slightly past lunch time. I checked in, ad just walked around aimlessly for rest of the day around the Ljubljana Castle, the Triple and Dragon Bridges, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
Ljubljana is completely unreal. As in, it literally does not seem like a real place. It’s too clean, too pastel and too nice- kind of like if Disney decided to build a European capital and give it a whimsical unpronounceable name.
From what I found, there doesn’t seem to be one type of food that is typically Slovenian, it’s more like Slovenia has taken the best food from the surrounding countries and made it their own. We’re talking stone baked pizzas and delicious pasta from Italy, meats from Austria and fish from Croatia among many other tasty treats.
Slovenia is a fantastic country for a road trip. The country is tiny, the roads are good, and most of the popular attractions are clustered in the western half of the country, making many destinations within a 90-minute drive. Today, luckily the weather was good and it made for some good pictures at Bled.
Vintgar Gorge is located around 4km north of Bled. You can walk there from Bled or catch a bus from Bled’s bus station. The gorge is open daily from 8am–7pm (though it’s closed in winter as it can get dangerously slippery in snow and ice) and entry costs €4 for adults. If you are visiting Bled, I highly recommend making a side trip to Vintgar Gorge.
Between the steep rocky walls of the gorge flows the bright aqua Radovna River. In some stretches it bubbles and swirls its way through rapids and mini waterfalls, and in others it’s so languid you can see right through to the swimming fish and the riverbed below. And if that’s not enough green there’s also the thick foliage, the trees above and the mosses and wildflowers clinging to the rocks. Truly gorgeous (excuse the pun). The Vintgar Gorge was inaccessible until it was opened up in the 1890s, and within a few years a network of wooden bridges and pathways had been built so visitors could get in and explore.
I must admit, I added to Slovenia to my itinerary to check off one more country of the list. But now, its one of my favorite countries for out door-sy natural beauty.