8 Unusual Reasons Why You Must Visit Slovenia- My Balkan Experience 1

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Port of Koper, Gem of the Adriatic Sea

Port of Koper in Slovenia by the Adriatic Sea

Providing port and logistics services in the northern part of Adriatic Sea is the Port of Koper in Slovenia. It connects trade to Central and Southeast Europe with the Mediterranean Sea and the Far East. Built many centuries ago, it is still the only commercial port of Slovenia where ships with important cargo from Japan, South Korea, and the Middle East are constantly sailing. Because of its convenient location along the Adriatic, the Port of Koper is one of the most important ports of call for sea vessels.

A young country but with an old history, Slovenia is almost landlocked. It has a short coastline at the Adriatic Sea and bordered at the Alps (or Balkan mountains) by Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy. Because of this, Slovenia has a Mediterranean climate at the coast and a mild, cool weather in its hills and valleys. In 1918, the Slovenes, Serbs and Croats formed together a nation called Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Later in 1929, it was renamed to Yugoslavia. After World War II it fell into Communist rule until 1991 when the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence from the Serbs. It became a member of the UN in May 1992. The Republic of Slovenia has integrated with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the European Union (EU) in 2004. A beautiful country with more or less 2 million happy people, it may be small in physical size but huge with awesome sights and a heaven of bio-diversity. If you have heard before about Europe’s best-kept secret- well that is Slovenia.

It was still an upcoming adventure capital of Europe then when I saw Slovenia in 1992 aboard the oil carrier M/T Knock Nevis. Though it has a short coastline of 46.6 km it is brimming with amazing wonders. One of the safest and cleanest countries in the world, here are the 8 unusual reasons why you must visit Slovenia.

Ljubljana, the Capital Will Captivate Your Heart

Ljubljana (pronounced lee-yub-lyana) is a very colorful city whose image has been pronounced by various periods of history. Designed in the form of a star, its name means “love”. Easy to explore, it really will draw you under its spell. It offers elegant central European charm and a medieval nucleus spiced with attractive bridges and maze-like streets full of Renaissance and New Art buildings. And while Ljubljana boasts quality architectures, its real charm lie outdoors. The alternative culture, lively outdoor cafes and youthful vibe of the city will captivate your heart forever. One of the most environmentally friendly capital in the world, did you know that even its drinking water is pure and without chemical treatment? It is safe to drink straight from the tap. This indeed is an unusual reason why you must visit Slovenia.

Postojna Cave Has A Castle In It, the Predjama Castle

A train ride inside Postojna Cave.

Due to its location on the Balkan mountains, Slovenia boasts a number of caves. The Postojna Cave is the most visited in Europe for the last 180 years. You can explore it by a train to the underground network of karst corridors, galleries and halls. And from the magical depths of Postojna Cave, you can also make your way to the fairy tale world of knights to Predjama Castle. Perched in the middle of a 123-meter high cliff, the 800-year old Predjama Castle is connected to Postojna Cave through a network of secret tunnels. Here, the former owner of the castle, the Knight of Erazem used to hide from his Austrian enemies. He was later killed by a cannonball while sitting on his toilet by soldiers of the Holy Roman Empire. An inspiration to numerous filmmakers, Predjama Castle has been used as a location site for films, TV series and documentaries. (Armor of God by Golden Harvest starring Jackie Chan and Discovery Channel’s 2008 episode of Ghost Hunters International.) Postojna Cave with Predjama Castle adventure is another unusual reason why you must visit Slovenia.

Jackie Chan’s filming of Armor of God inside Predjama Castle.

Home, Home On The Range of the Shy Brown Bear

In a country of 70% forests, no wonder that the brown bear is endemic in the area. If you are an adventure seeker, when in Slovenia you might have an encounter with one, up close and personal. “Don’t fear the bear” as they say in Slovenia, you can join a bear-watching adventure with experienced guides. They will take you to the observation area in the woods to watch the bears in their natural habitat. They say that brown bears in Slovenia are actually shy and harmless to people. The brown bear safari is also an unusual reason why you must visit Slovenia.

Stunning Lake Bled Is Extraordinary

Misty Lake Bled in autumn

Surrounded by mountains, stunning Lake Bled is undoubtedly the most unusual reason why you must visit Slovenia. Allegedly created by fairies, the area was used to be filled by succulent grass where fairies danced at night. Shepherds tend their flocks of sheep here at daytime. Afraid that the animals will consume all the grass, the fairies asked the shepherds to build a fence around their dance floor. But the shepherds refused and seeking revenge, the fairies flooded the valley and created a lake with a small island at the middle. Here they continued to dance at night. Standing at the island on Lake Bled is the magnificent 17th century Church of the Assumption. A favorite venue for weddings, it has been a tradition for the groom to carry his bride up the 99 steps leading to the Church.

Visit Piran, Jewel of Slovenia At The Adriatic Sea

Another unusual reason why you must visit Slovenia is the colorful town that sits at the Adriatic Sea. Just imagine a captivating seaside village with orange rooftops, rocky shoreline, and winding streets surrounded by the sparkling blue waters – the dream is real and it’s Piran. Its best attraction is Tartini Square. It is surrounded by dramatic houses and cafes with the monument of Giuseppe Tartini, an Italian composer who was born in this town.

Tartini Square in Piran

Enjoy White-Water Rafting On the Soca River

Tucked in the heart of the Julian Alps is Soca Valley, a truly and an unusual reason why you must visit Slovenia. Wake up your inner adventure and try white-water rafting on the Soca River. It has a distinct emerald green color and absolutely one of the most attractive rivers in Europe. Years later after my 1992 visit at Slovenia, Disney will use the confluence of Soca River for the final scenes of the movie Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.(2007) The scene filmed was about the 300 soldiers running over 60 meters long Beruna wooden bridge.

Final scenes of the movie Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian were taken at the Soca River in Slovenia.

The Traditional Pastry, Potica Is Good In Any Occasion

Potica is a traditional Slovenian pastry consisting of a yeast dough and a filling of walnuts. This festive pastry symbolizes wealth and prosperity. A sweet ambassador, its one of the unusual reasons why you must visit Slovenia.Pronounced as poh-TEEH-sa, this savory pastry has other popular fillings like cottage cheese, chocolate and even their famous honey. (most Slovenes are beekeepers) It is enjoyed at every festive occasion in Slovenia but most especially during the Christmas holidays.

It ranks 4th in the List of World’s 10 Greenest Countries

A good and an unusual reason why you must visit Slovenia is that it ranks 4th in the 10 greenest countries of the world preceded by Norway, Switzerland and Portugal. In terms of its positive contribution to the planet and climate, this country is exemplary in the implementation of environmental laws and reducing the use of substances that destroy the ozone layer. Green is the color of Slovenian DNA. Great efforts by its government and the people have been made in terms of sustainability.

Melania Trump

The current US First Lady is a Slovenian. She was born Melanija Knavs in Novo Mestro, then-Yugolavia in 1970. As early as 5 years old she had started modeling for a clothing factory where her mother was working. She attended the University of Ljubljana for a year before choosing to persuade a modeling career.She Germanized her name to Melania Knauss and worked in Milan and Paris until an agency owner (friend of Donald Trump) brought her to New York. She met the business mogul Donald Trump in 1998, and as they say, the rest is history.

Goran Dragic

The NBA player of the Miami Heat is also from Slovenia. He grew up in Ljubljana playing football. However an injury forced him to switch to basketball. As a kid, Goran used to watch NBA games on TV and dreamed of playing in the league one day. And dream came true for him indeed.

Slovenia indeed is an unexplored country with lots of hidden beauty and charming places. Its unspoiled quality swept me off my feet. Are you curious about Slovenia too? One day when you least expect it, your exciting Balkan adventure finds you. The magical glacier lakes, fairy tale castles and the enchanted forests of Slovenia are waiting for you to explore them soon. Best of luck.

Reference: Wikipedia