Seven things I now know about Slovenia

I took a tour to Lake Bled today, and was rewarded by stunning scenery. Our driver/guide Taja (pronounced Tie-yah) was very chatty and happy to answer any and all questions about Slovenia, its culture and way of life. Here’s what I discovered:

1. Slovenia was once part of Yugoslavia, along with Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia. All are part of the Balkans.

2. Tito was held in high regard. He was a leader who used his power for good and not evil. Everyone was middle class… there was no rich, no poor.

3. Slovenians are very well educated and are expected to learn four languages, with most students learning English. All go to university, which is free… apart from books and accommodation. Apparently, many Slovenians end up in Australia because of our demand for engineers.

4. Slovenians are feeling the pinch from having adopted the Euro. Prices on basic goods have tripled and it is difficult to make ends meet. Slovenians experience “European prices on a Balkan budget” was how Taja explained it to me.

5. Ljubljana is called the one hour city, because of its proximity to Italy, Germany, Croatia and Austria. It’s happy to remain a hidden gem, because huge numbers of tourists would put too much of a strain on infrastructure.

6. It starts getting cold in November. Children learn to ski from a very early age. A favourite winter drink is mulled wine. Lake Bled freezes over and crossings are made by skating or horse-drawn sleds.

7. The current president is a woman and popular. Apparently her strength (she is seen as being strong like Germany’s Angela Merkel) is appealing. However, crime, drugs etc. have increased significantly since Tito’s death.

4 Comments

  • Milorad Ivović September 7, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    #2 There’s a bit of a historical whitewash of Tito, I’m afraid. He had a chequered authoritarian dictatorial history and was responsible for a particularly horrible prison island which ranks among the most brutal of post-war europe.

    He’s criticised by scholars for setting up the “New Yugoslavia” post-war, in an economically unsustainable fashion which was designed to fail. Many believe that this was at the behest of western governments who saw the Balkan region as strategically key for a Soviet alliance, and wanted to kick the legs out of it at a time when the USSR was a genuine threat. In that way he’s seen as a puppet.

    He’s therefore credited with ensuring the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and the divisional infighting which led to the wartime atrocities on all three sides of that conflict (in addition to those which he committed himself during his iron-fisted leadership). Since the European Union was formed, praise of Tito increased among former Yugoslav EU candidate nations, mostly as a gesture intended to demonstrate progressive west-friendly views and grease the wheels of membership. It’s been an effective strategy.

    As you travel though Serbia (assuming that’s your plan) you’ll discover that much fondness for the memory of Yugoslavia still remains with its former capital Belgrade, and along with it, a less appreciative view of Tito.

    Take all political history in this region with a grain of salt as there are many inconvenient truths. Travel safely! 🙂

    Reply
    • dileeshus September 8, 2013 at 12:16 am

      Thank you Milorad! It’s such an fascinating part of the world – and I must confess I don’t know nearly as much about it as I should. I’m going into Croatia and Bosnia, so will listen to their political/historical views with great interest!

      Reply
  • Gary Lum September 8, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Slovenia is also home to some active Lyme disease research we’ve been interested in.

    Reply
    • dileeshus September 10, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      It’s a fascinating country, Gary 🙂

      Reply

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