“So tell me, where are you moving to?” Joe asked.
“Slovenia”, I answered.
He nodded with understanding. “Oh, my sister’s husband’s brother went to Slovakia once. He really liked it”.
For what seemed like the 100th time, I explained, “No, Slovenia. We’re going to SLOVEnia. It’s like, a whole ‘nother country”.
Joe looked puzzled. “Wait,” he said, as his faced wrinkled with deep concern. “Isn’t that by Ukraine?”.
Many people don’t know where Slovenia is (and I didn’t before either), so here ya go.
Slovenia isn’t Slovakia. It isn’t in a danger zone close to Ukraine. We are right by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, and Croatia to the south.
Now let’s zoom in…
See that red star? That’s where we are living now. It’s called Ljubljana (Lyoo-blyee-on-uh).
Ljubljana is like a secret paradise on earth. And I’m living here for a whole year!! I keep pinching myself–it’s still so hard for me to believe! You can check out some photos of our first few days in this great place here: First Impressions: Ljubljana. In the meantime, I’ve been learning a few things along the way…
Things you’ll learn on a trip to Ljubljana
1. It’s a capital city, but it’s really really small. I see the same people over and over and over again. And I see people I know all the time, but usually don’t even go up to them or say hi, because it is just so normal to see them everywhere. And everyone knows everyone. You know that 6 degrees of separation thing? Well it’s really like 2 degrees here.
2. Most people do speak English, but learning a few common phrases and words in Slovenian seems to get you a long way.
3. People enjoy life here. It isn’t always go-go-go like in the U.S. A lot of people get off work around 4:00, then they take a stroll or go to the park or meet up with friends.
4. There are lots of cafes and bars with free wi-fi, but not many people are on it. You don’t really see coffee shops full of MacBooks and people on their cell phones. People here generally enjoy each other’s company and make conversation instead of living online.
5. On that same note, there isn’t much coffee-to-go. Many people sit down around here and enjoy themselves. There also isn’t much fast food. We did eat “fast food” one night, and the guy made it right there in front of us and it took about 15 minutes. A much more relaxed culture that I just love.
6. Tips at restaurants are not expected. Sometimes if the service is great people will round up the bill, but tipping is definitely optional.
7. Tax is included in the bill, so you know exactly what you are going to pay. If something costs 3 euros, that is how much you’ll be charged.
8. Alcohol is is everywhere, and it seems like it’s acceptable to drink at any time. Walk down the river in the morning and you’ll see people drinking wine! Smoking is also everywhere (except for inside).
9. The wine is cheaper than the beer. Hell, it’s even cheaper than the water!
10. There is graffiti everywhere. While this would normally be associated with a bad area of town in the U.S, there isn’t really a “bad” area in Ljubljana. The city is very safe. There isn’t much crime here, minus common (aka constant) bike theft.
I still don’t know how to order tap water, and I don’t know if it is even common or acceptable to do so. Whenever I’ve tried, I get mineral water or bottled water, which is really great, I’m just so used to getting a glass of free, tap water with a meal. It seems that if you order coffee, it will come with a little glass of tap water too. But not always. So if you have any insight, please let me know!
Update: Thanks to the tips in the comments from all you lovely readers, I now know how to order tap water. Thanks so much for reading and for commenting!