I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat

Trip Start Jul 01, 2009
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Trip End Jul 01, 2010


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Flag of Slovenia  ,
Friday, November 6, 2009

Slovenia was a delightful surprise. We have to admit that if we had been asked to find it on a map before this trip, we would have failed miserably.  For all you history buffs (and given the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union and its satellites, it's quite relevant) Slovenia was the first country to break away from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.  It was the northern-most province of Yugoslavia – it touches Italy to the west, Austria to the northwest and Hungary to the northeast.  It gained its sovereignty before the Balkan Wars started, and while 66 people did die in the skirmishes with the Serbian army, it was a relatively peaceful break as compared to Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia. 

The languages in this part of the world love their consonants – the non-anglicized spelling of Slovenia’s capital is Ljubljna.  There was a joke bouncing around the internet about 15 years ago about the US planning to airlift vowels from Hawaii to help the cause.  We always try to learn the basics of the languages we encounter, but we never quite mastered Slovene.  We’d love to come back and try again.

Slovenians are friendly, outgoing, and love visitors.  The capital, Ljubljana (pronounced Loo-blee-Ahn-uh), is quite small compared to others in Europe.  At 200,000 people, it’s 10% of the size of Budapest (which is about the same population of all of Slovenia).  We found everyone we met to be welcoming, interested in hearing our stories and delighted to share theirs.  We went on a free tour of Ljubljana with Tina, who spent almost 3 hours with us in the pouring rain showing us her city.  It’s a very modest, pretty, understated city that celebrates its poets and architects more than its military leaders.  The mythology of the city is that this is where Jason and the Argonauts defeated the dragon on their return with the Golden Fleece (check your Greek Mythology on that one). 

It was St. Martin’s Day while we were in Ljubljana – that’s the day that the vintners believed that their grape juice actually ferments and turns into wine.  As a result, there is a big party, and there were over 50 wine producers sharing their new wines of the year at the same time as the Saturday Market.   There was drinking, dancing, singing, and a citywide party. We recommend Ljubljana highly.

Slovenia was our first brush with real November weather as well.  As we noted, it rained non-stop our first full day in Ljubljana.  The trees were losing their leaves and we had to wear all of our layers while there.  It also got darker quicker – it really is starting to move into the heart of Autumn.
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