You know how when you’re traveling in Germany, and someone asks: “what brings you to Austria?” and it dawns on you, for the 10th time: “Right! I’m in Austria, not Germany. Austria, Austria, Austria” (hoping to remember this time)? For the locals, I’m sure Germany and Austria are worlds apart. But the dumb tourist in me keeps getting confused. If it wasn’t for the Sacher Torte and my beloved friends in both countries, I’d be totally lost. Slovakia and Slovenia are my biggest challenge though. I thought going from one straight to the other would end my confusion once and for all. Sadly, I got more confused. Nature, culture, buildings, landscape and the general ambiance are almost the same. Even though they speak different languages, both sound the same to my non-Slavic ears. Then the traveler/student in me comes to the rescue: Slovenia has a Mediterranean beach, 46 km worth (A national pride!) Their recent history is very different: Slovenia was part of former Yugoslavia (Non Aligned Movement), Slovakia was half of Czechoslovakia (Eastern bloc). The spark of the 1990s Yugoslav wars was ignited in Slovenia. Luckily for them, the war lasted only 10 days with 18 deaths (compared to 44 months and 10000 dead in Bosnia). With only 2 million inhabitants and 60% of the land is forested, Slovenia is one of the most environmentally friendly countries in the world. Their socialist roots are still benefiting them despite being part of the EU; Free education (€38/year), high quality health care is a right for all citizens and residents, 1 year maternity leave, 6 months paternity leave, free buses in Ljubljana town center, free clean toilets… have you started packing yet? One more piece of information: income tax is progressive and ranges from 16-50% (average is 35%). If you’re still packing, don’t forget your bike!
#travel #travelblog #slovenia #europe #westandinlove