The weather has broken at long last and low temperatures and persistent rain has driven us from the damp streets of Ljubljana back to the hotel and an opportunity to share with you some reflections about this beautiful country.
As the plane lands the first impression of the land laid out below is one of neatness and order. The landscape is a palette of greens and a patchwork of fields and forests interspersed with collections of painted ginger-bread houses. 68% of the country is forested.
Slovenia is made by its people. Just over two million people live in this small country. The vast majority speak English with a pleasant, warm disposition that is immediately welcoming. There is a colossal link between Slovenes and nature. At weekends most will head for the hills, literally, and ski or bike or canoe. Most families have an allotment and gardening is the number one participation activity. Whatever it is down to, it works. Slovenes are friendly, warm, softly-spoken. They seem grounded and content. Their quality of life and their attitude to living is worth emulating.
Food is very much meat based. Most menus contain locally sourced beef, veal, pork, chicken, venison, even boar. In some more remote parts bear is still found, but not on menus of local restaurants. Dishes are accompanied by locally grown fruit and vegetables. Beer is good and wine, particularly the whites, is exceptional, even for a red lover like me.
Every settlement of any size boasts a church, usually Catholic, and a protecting castle in various states of repair. These places all have a medieval core that transports one back to the old days of ancient monasteries and narrow, cobbled streets and timber bridges. On the small strip of coast Venetian ports remind us that these links are as relevant to the history of Slovenia as the mountain passes and the river valleys. This country has been moulded by its stunning and wonderfully diverse scenery – mountains, rolling hills, rivers, streams, lakes, evergreen pine forests, mixed deciduous woodland, meadows and farmland, allotments and orchards, fields of hops and vines.
So, all in all, a beautiful place with stunning scenery inhabited by friendly people who value their culture and history. What else do you want?