Just north of Croatia, and also bordering Italy, Austria, and Hungary, Slovenia is a cheerful blend of Adriatic/Italian warmth and Tyrolean/Slavic industriousness. More prosperous than the other former Yugoslav republics, Slovenia boasts full "net donor" membership in the European Union since 2004 and qualifies to use the Euro as currency. Most younger Slovenians speak flawless English, including current slang they learn from watching popular American TV shows, making for simple, comfortable travel in this friendly nation for tourists from the U. S.
Most of Ljubljana's major sites are near the lovely Ljubljanica River or on the picturesque, rocky castle hill which crowns the town. The best way to enjoy the city is on foot, with stops for refreshments at the cafes on the lower river promenade.
Architecture buffs will love it here, with unspoiled Baroque and Art Deco buildings, as well as many works by the city's own quirky and brilliant architect, Joze Plecnik, who worked here during the first half of the 20th century. Classical music fans will enjoy fine performances which follow in a long tradition. One of Europe's oldest academies of music is still active here, with a proud record of visiting scholars including Mozart, Liszt, and most other European "big names", right down to contemporary greats like Itzhak Perlman and Andre Previn.
The 60,000 or so students at Ljubljana's university keep the city lively, friendly, fun, and distinctly unstuffy.
One photo above shows a view of the riverfront and promenade with the big pink Franciscan Church of St. Mary in the background. I was frustrated to discover that I failed to take any photos while we were there which captured the riverfront and Old Town (took too many close-ups of lovely buildings), so I have used this photo from TripAdvisor.com--many thanks to them. I did take the photo of the gorgeous Italian Baroque interior of the 18th century Cathedral of St. Nicholas.
I hope you will consider visiting Slovenia. We were with an excellent Rick Steves tour there, which provided a stimulating orientation to this surprisingly charming country. Since Slovenia is home to our fun-loving, well-informed, accommodating Rick Steves guide, Saso Golub, we felt as though we had the inside track. However, our time there seemed too short--we fell in love with the land and the people, and I can't wait to return. Both Saso and his girlfriend Tina Hiti also serve as expert private guides, and I can provide contact information for them if you ask for it.
Question of the day: Is the thought of traveling to Slovenia new to you? What other non-traditional destination captures your creative imagination?