Slovenia

The Slovene lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the latter’s dissolution at the end of World War I. In 1918, the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new multinational state, which was named Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though Communist, distanced itself from Moscow’s rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power by the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 after a short 10-day war. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy have assisted in Slovenia’s transformation to a modern state. Slovenia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.

Slovenia is situated in South-eastern Europe, eastern Alps bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Austria and Croatia

In 1918 the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new nation, renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though communist, distanced itself from Moscow’s rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power of the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy make Slovenia a leading candidate for future membership in the EU and NATO.

Brief History
The Slovene lands were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the latter’s dissolution at the end of World War I. In 1918, the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new multinational state, which was named Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though Communist, distanced itself from Moscow’s rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power by the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 after a short 10-day war. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy have assisted in Slovenia’s transformation to a modern state. Slovenia acceded to both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004.

Slovenia is situated in South-eastern Europe, eastern Alps bordering the Adriatic Sea, between Austria and Croatia

In 1918 the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new nation, renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though communist, distanced itself from Moscow’s rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power of the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy make Slovenia a leading candidate for future membership in the EU and NATO.

Getting There and In
Direct flights to Ljubljana and indirect flights via most major cities in East and Central Europe.

As of 1st May 2004 Slovenia is a member of the European Union (EU) which means that there are no restrictions on passport holders of other EU countries staying, living, and working in the Slovenia. At the airport or border they’ll just examine your passport and wave you through without stamping it, and probably without speaking to you.

Passport holders of other countries will still get their passports stamped, and may be asked to provide evidence of a return ticket or that they have sufficient funds for their stay. This is unlikely though. It’s always a good idea to contact the Slovenian Embassy in your home country to check that you don’t need to obtain a visa prior to your arrival.

The only problem we had in entering Slovenia by road is that it meant we’d had to pass through Italy first, which was not a pleasant experience. The “Getting There” section of the Koper page holds further details. I don’t think that it was a coincidence that more people were queuing to enter Slovenia than there were trying to get into Italy.

Food and Drink
Slovenian food is excellent, mainly because of historical influences on Slovenian cuisine. Parts of Slovenia used to be parts of Italy, so pizzas and pastas are common. And Slovenia used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so sausages and meat in general are popular. And due to its proximity to the Balkans there are influences from that direction too, in the form of kebabs and other grilled meats. And because the Slovenians are a healthy bunch they’re into their salads, and fish and seafood are more widespread than elsewhere in Eastern Europe, so it’s really the best of all worlds. Some restaurants will also offer “traditional” Slovenian food, which tends to involve venison in one form or another. Slovenes are also big ice-cream lovers.

Most Slovenian restaurants (traditional Slovenian places are known as Gostlinas) will have a combination of most of the above on their menus, although there are some restaurants that will only do pizza and pasta. A meal in a good, non-touristy place should set you back no more than Ł5. The big cities in Slovenia are fairly cosmopolitan, so you should be able to find Chinese, Indian or Thai food, among others. I’ m not sure how authentic they would be though.

Happily, the situation with food is mirrored with booze. Formerly being part of Austria-Hungary means that beer (pivo) is widely drunk, mainly Czech-style lagers but some dark beers are available. The two main brands are Union, brewed in Ljubljana and Lasko. They’re both of similar strength and taste excellent but Lasko’s emblem is a goat that appears on all its cans, bottles, and glasses and so for this reason is preferable. Nearly all restaurants and bars will offer one or both on draught and a pint will set you back anywhere from 40 to 70p. “Trendier” or more tourist-orientated bars and restaurants will also offer imported beer (Guinness being popular) but Slovenian beer is cheaper and just as good, so stick with that.

Slovenia is also good wine-growing country. You may occasionally see a bottle of Slovenian wine in a British supermarket or off licence but before buying bear in mind that the Slovenians keep all the good stuff for domestic consumption and only export the rat’s piss. I can recommend the Vinakoper Refosk, a red wine from the coast around Koper, available in most supermarkets for around Ł3 a bottle. As this was the most expensive bottle of Slovenian wine in the shop, you can certainly afford to experiment!

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