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Slovenia

this article is about the former part of Yugoslavia, for the former part of Czechoslovakia see here

Slovenia (Slovenian: Slovenija) is a country in Central Europe that lies in the eastern Alps at the northern end of the Adriatic Sea, with Austria to the north, Italy to the southwest, Hungary to the northeast and Croatia to the south. Despite its small size, Slovenia has a surprising variety of terrain, ranging from the beaches of the Mediterranean to the peaks of the Julian Alps, to the rolling hills of the south. Slovenia was already more economically advanced than other nations behind the iron curtain prior to European integration and the powerhouse of Tito's Yugoslavia. Contrary to the popular misconception, Slovenia was not a part of the Eastern bloc (not after the Yugoslavian notorious split with the Soviet Union in 1948). Added the fact that Slovenia is also home to some of the finest scenery in the "New Europe", the transition from socialism to the European common market economy has gone well and serves as a model for other nations on the same track to follow.

Regions

Cities

  • Ljubljana - the picturesque capital
  • Bled - romantic mountain lake complete with its own castle and island
  • Celje - one of Slovenia's oldest cities
  • Koper/Capodistria - lovely Venetian city, largest on Slovenian coastline
  • Maribor - Slovenia's second largest city
  • Nova Gorica - the city on the border with Italy
  • Piran/Pirano - gorgeous Venetian port
  • Postojna - Site of the gigantic Postojna caves
  • Ptuj - one of Slovenia's oldest cities

Other destinations

  • Škocjan Caves — Less commercial than Postojna but no less impressive, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Triglav National Park — Home to national symbol Mt. Triglav and mythical golden chamois Zlatorog.
  • So?a Valley — So?a river is with its emerald colour one of the most beautiful European Alpine rivers.

Understand

History

Slavic ancestors of Slovenians came from eastern parts of Europe and inhabited territory north of present Slovenian territory in the 6th century AD. They established a state called Caranthania (Karantanija in Slovene), which was an early example of parliamentary democracy in Europe. The ruler (knez in Slovene) was elected by popular vote. The Caranthanians were later defeated by Bavarians and Franks, who subjugated them. They were Christianized, but they preserved many rituals of their pagan religion, and above all, they preserved their native language. The Slovene lands were part of the Holy Roman Empire and Austria under the Habsburg dynasty until 1918, when the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new south-Slavic state ruled by Serbian Kara?or?evi? dynasty called the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians ("Kraljevina Srbov, Hrvatov in Slovencev" in Slovene), renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. In WWII, Slovenia was invaded and occupied by Germans, Italians and Hungarians, leading to a parallel civil war between pro-communist liberation forces (Partizani) and axis-sponsored anti-communist reactionary factions ("Belogardisti" and Domobranci). The victory of the Allies and consequently the Partizans resulted in a violent mass exodus of those who had fought with the occupying forces, including most of the native German and Italian minorities. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic in the reestablished Yugoslavia, which although Communist, distanced itself from the Soviet bloc and small territorial gains were made from Italy. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power in Belgrade, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991 with minimal bloodshed. In 2004, Slovenia joined the European Union and NATO. Most recently, Slovenia adopted the euro in 2007, completing a quick and efficient accession to Europe and the EU.

Culture

Slovenia lies at the tripoint of the Germanic, Latin, and Slavic cultures, and Slovenes are fiercely proud of their culture. Two names you will run into over and over again are national poet France Prešeren (1800-1849), who penned (among other things) the Slovenian national anthem, and the architect Jože Ple?nik (1872-1957), credited with Ljubljana's iconic Tromostovje bridges and, seemingly, half the modern buildings in the country. It was the monks of the Catholic Church that kept Slovene alive over the centuries of relentless Germanization from the north. As a result Slovene survived in its unique form different than Serbo-Croatian to the south. Part of both the countryside and city architecture in Julian Alps shares a lot in common with neighboring Austria, including countless roadside shrines and pretty baroque steeples, giving the interior of the nation a truly alpine flavor. One could easily mistake parts of mountainous Slovenia for Tyrol, Salzburg or Bavaria. In modern times, industrial band Laibach (see box) has served to put Slovenia on the map. In the decades before them, Slavko Avsenik and his Oberkrainer (as known in German) did the same.

Climate

Mediterranean climate on the coast, mountain climate in Alps with mild summers and freezing winters and continental climate with hot summers and freezing winters in the plateaus and valleys to the east.

Terrain

A short coastal strip on the Adriatic, an Alpine mountain region adjacent to Italy and Austria, mixed mountain and valleys with numerous rivers to the east and Pannonian Basin in northeast. Central Ljubljana valley with Ljubljana marshes in the southern part. In the southwest there is the Karst (Kras in Slovene, Carso in Italian) (where the name for karst topography as a whole actually comes from). The Karst region is a barren but beautiful limestone region directly north of the Italian city of Trieste.

Natural hazards  flooding and earthquakes highest point  Triglav 2,864 m lowest point  Adriatic sea 0 m

Get in

Entry requirements

Slovenia is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

  • There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
  • There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
  • Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
  • Please see Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality.

Citizens of the above countries are permitted to work in Slovenia without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries.

By bus

The Ljubljana Bus Station (Avtobusna Postaja Ljubljana) provides composite information about international and airport bus services. Phone: 090 93 42 30 (inland only)

Connections between the Italian city of Trieste and nearby Koper and Piran are frequent on weekdays. There's also a daily bus between Trieste and Ljubljana. In addition, services between Gorizia (Italy) and its twin town of Nova Gorica (Slovenia) are at least hourly throughout the day although the journey is easily walkable. This offers an ideal connection between the Italian and Slovene railway networks or an alternative entry point from Trieste's Ronchi Airport or the city of Venice.

By plane

Ljubljana is Slovenia's primary international airport and the hub of national carrier Adria Airways, which flies to a number of European cities and offers connections to Southeast Europe. The cheapest ways into the city, though, are via wizzAir's (or easyJet's) daily flight from London.

There are a few other options worth exploring. Ryanair also runs flights from Dublin to Pula across the border in Croatia. Another convenient gateway, especially to western Slovenia, is via Italy's Trieste airport, which is but an hour's drive from Ljubljana via super highway. Klagenfurt, in Austria, is also an option. Although further away, the Italian airports in Venice and Treviso (called "Venice Treviso") offer other entry points to Slovenia or good day trips to/from Slovenia. Note that railway connections between Slovenia and Italy are rather poor, though (see below).

By train

Slovenia is well connected to Austria, Croatia and Hungary by train. The most popular routes connect from Vienna or Villach in Austria (in good weather, this journey past the Julian Alps is spectacular), from Budapest in Hungary and from Zagreb in Croatia. All lines converge on the capital Ljubljana.

Italian Railways have slashed the only remaining cross-border service. To get around this poor connection, one can take a train to Nova Gorica (Slovenia) and then walk or take a bus to its neighboring town of Gorizia (Italy) from where there are frequent trains to Trieste, Udine, Venice and further afield. For trips to Trieste, it may be more advisable to take a train to Sežana and then take a taxi on to Trieste (about 10km, €10) or a connecting bus (3 times a day, weekdays only, €1).

Slovenia Railways is the national railway company. There are many international routes, and special offers exist for some destinations, so you should consider informing yourself about that in advance. There are destinations, which have tickets on contingency basis, meaning that they could run out fast, but are usually a lot cheaper, such as Ljubljana - Prague line (cooperation between SŽ and Czech railways), €58 for a return ticket (compared to a normal price of €200). For return trips originating in Slovenia, "City Star" tickets, which are open-dated, but usually require a weekend stay, are often the cheapest choice[1] . Also, be aware that you also receive a discount with the Euro<26 youth card [2] on most international lines (of course the discount does not stack up if you already have a special deal). The same card also applies for all domestic lines, with a 30% discount.

The quality and comfort of the trains on international routes varies significantly. The unwritten rule is that everything heading up north from Ljubljana has a pretty good standard. The trains usually have restaurants on board, with clean and modern toilets. The same can not be guaranteed for the lines heading south (such as Belgrade, Sofia, Skopje or Thessaloniki), so be sure to carry a supply of food and beverages on board (water and coffee is available in every sleeping compartment), when heading to or from Ljubljana from the Balkans, with the train. However, the express services which run to Zagreb (usually starting in Munich, Germany) are very high quality - but the price shows this.

By car

Slovenia has an excellent highway network connected to neighboring countries. Slovenia demands that all vehicles with a permissible weight of up to 3.5 tons buy a vignette (road tax) before using motorways or expressways. For passenger vehicles, the vignette costs €15.00 for a week, €30.00 for a month, or €95.00 for a year. For motorcyclists, this costs €7.50 per week, €25.00 for 6 months and €47.50 for a year.[3] . Using motorways without a vignette will result in a fine of €300+. Vignettes are sold at the border, please remember to ask (the border agents are supposed to give you a flyer advising you to buy one, but they don't always do that. The posted signs advising you to buy a vignette are in Slovene only).

When entering through northern neighbor Austria, you also need a separate vignette to use the Austrian highway network.

From Austria

From Italy

By boat

  • There is a fast ferry between Venice and Izola, running with an irregular schedule mainly during the summer season (for the timetable see [4] ). The journey takes 3 hours.
  • Venezialines run one fast ferry per week between Venice and Piran.
  • During the summer months, there is a fast craft service operated by Trieste Lines between Trieste (Italy), Piran (Slovenia), Pore? (Croatia) and Rovinj (Croatia). The portion of the journey between Piran and Trieste lasts 30 minutes, which is pretty much the same as the same journey in a car.

Get around

Slovenia is a relatively small country and getting around is generally quick and painless. However, the explosive growth in car ownership has meant tougher times for public transport, and bus schedules in particular have been slashed, so some planning ahead is required. Services are sparse on Saturdays and very limited indeed on Sundays.

By train

Slovenia's train network, operated by Slovenske železnice (SŽ) will get you to most destinations in the country, although there are some annoying gaps in the network and routes can be circuitous, so going from anywhere to anywhere usually requires a change at Ljubljana. Trains are, however, some 30% cheaper than buses and return discounts are available on weekends. Buy tickets before you board, as there's a surcharge for any tickets bought from the conductor - except if tickets are not sold at the station. A €1.20 surcharge also applies to any InterCity trains.

Quite a bit of money and effort has been put into modernizing the system and the newest trains are as nice as anything you'll find in Western Europe, and although rural stations are often quite basic, most stations are extremely well kept with flowers decorating the platforms throughout summer months. In particular, the name of the station is typically only visible on a single sign on the station building itself, so figuring out where you are means craning your neck a lot. Newer trains do have an voice announcement system that tells you to which station you are approaching. Trains are punctual (except some international ones), so check the expected arrival time and some previous station names to be sure where to get off. For figuring out your next train from a station; electronic signboards are a rarity (outside Ljubljana), but printed schedules are always available: odhod (yellow) means departures, while prihod (white) is arrivals, although this is usually indicated in both English and Slovene.

By bus

Buses fill in the gaps, and are usually a better option for some towns not directly served from Ljubljana by train (e.g. Bled, Piran). Some bigger stations have handy electronic search engines for schedules and fares.

By car

Slovenia's roads are for the most part well maintained and well signposted, and you won't have a problem if you drive or hire a car. Having a car certainly does add a level of mobility and self-direction that you won't get by train or bus.

There are a number of car rental and taxi businesses in Ljubljana. The big international companies are all represented, but if you are on a budget, the local companies have some nice offers if you do not mind using a car which is a few years old.

Slovenian railways also offer Motorail on some routes where you can take your car on the train and save the stress of driving.

Talk

See also: Slovenian phrasebook

Slovenian, the national language, is spoken as the mother tongue by 91% of the population, but there are also small Italian (concentrated on the Primorska coast) and somewhat bigger Hungarian (in Prekmurje to the northeast) minorities. Historically, and prior to the end of WWII there was also a significant German speaking minority. Conversely, Slovenian is spoken in border regions of neighboring countries.

The level of spoken English is very high when compared to most European countries. Many people you come into contact with as a tourist will speak English, and may have some functional knowledge of German, in particular in Eastern Slovenia, and of Italian in the coastal region where Italian is a co-official language. Serbo-Croatian is very closely related to Slovenian and widely understood.

The Slovenian school system heavily promotes the teaching of foreign languages from primary school onwards. Children study two foreign languages (most commonly English and German) by the time they get to grammar school. A typical grammar school often teaches an optional third foreign language, Spanish, Italian, or French. Many speak English well with older people speaking German.

See

Slovenian cities leave no doubt about historic influence played by Austrian and Italian architecture: Ljubljana is not unlike Prague and Piran could be easily mistaken for a small Italian town. While cities are far from boring, the real Slovenian must-see is its diverse and unspoiled nature.

  • Visit the alpine resort of Bled and its romantic lake with an island, but continue towards Srednja vas to see some traditional villages, or hitch a ride to Pokljuka mountain, a good starting point for hikes into Julian Alps.
  • Enjoy the 5.3 km ride through Postojna caves, the longest publicly accessible depth of any cave system in the world, with massive stalactites and stalagmites.
  • After visiting the lively coastal town of Piran, a trip to the serene salt works of nearby Se?ovlje will feel like stepping out of this world.
  • So?a river is said to be one of the few rivers in the world to retain their emerald green color throughout its length. The Trenta valley, through which it flows before crossing to Italy, is also well worth seeing.
  • Slovenian pint-size baroque capital Ljubljana is nice in any season but especially popular in December due to its abundant but tasteful decoration.

Do

There are many great opportunities for activity holidays in Slovenia: The mountains and rivers of the Julian Alps provide the perfect location for hiking, mountain biking, rafting and kayaking. The southern part of Slovenia is an area of numerous caves. You can enjoy different spa resorts in the eastern part, take a dive in the Adriatic Sea, experience the Slovene cities, go skiing, or enjoy in the countryside tasting Slovene cuisine and local wine. Since Slovenia is a small country, you can discover it in a few days. Therefore you can visit Ljubljana (the capital city), the Julian Alps, Karst region, alpine lakes within several days. A more detailed look at the country, however, requires much more time.

  • Adrenaline adventures in the Poso?je area, you can stay in Ljubljana and, in a short distance away, discover the amazing North-Western area of Slovenia called Poso?je and Triglav National Park -- canyoning (soteskanje), rafting, para-gliding and much more! Because of the relatively new appearance of Slovenia on the national stage of extreme sports, these are much less expensive to participate in than other European countries, such as the UK or Switzerland. These activities are particularly prevalent in Bohinj, BovecKranjska Gora, and other north-western cities.
  • There are more than 8,000 known caves in Slovenia, including the tourist area of Postojna and the UNESCO listed Škocjan Caves.
  • Take advantage of beautiful nature in the Alps and go hiking, cross-country skiing, Nordic walking, or mountain biking, weather permitting.
  • Visit of one many spa resorts in Slovenia.
  • Visit the Slovene seaside and swim in the Adriatic Sea. Try local seafood and visit the towns of Piran and Portorož.
  • Visit one of the golf courses in Slovenia.
  • Skiing in the Julian Alps is popular in the winter. More popular ski resorts are: Kranjska Gora, Krvavec, Vogel, RoglaCerkno, Kanin, and Mariborsko Pohorje.

Buy

Money

Slovenia uses the euro. It is one of several European countries that uses this common currency. All euro banknotes and coins are legal tender within all the countries.

One euro is divided into 100 cents.

The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

  • Banknotes: Euro banknotes have the same design in all the countries.
  • Normal coins: All eurozone countries have coins issued with a distinctive national design on one side, and a standard common design on the other side. Coins can be used in any eurozone country, regardless of the design used (e.g. a one-euro coin from Finland can be used in Portugal).
  • Commemorative two euro coins: These differ from normal two euro coins only in their "national" side and circulate freely as legal tender. Each country may produce a certain amount of them as part of their normal coin production and sometimes "Europe-wide" two euro coins are produced to commemorate special events (e.g. the anniversary of important treaties).
  • Other commemorative coins: Commemorative coins of other amounts (e.g. ten euros or more) are much rarer, and have entirely special designs and often contain non-negligible amounts of gold, silver or platinum. While they are technically legal tender at face value, their material or collector value is usually much higher and, as such, you will most likely not find them in actual circulation.

The euro replaced the Slovenian tolar (SIT).

Prices

Prices are high compared to most of Eastern Europe (except Croatia), but lower compared to Italy or Austria. Although prices do vary quite a bit, it really depends on the location. For example, a beer (0,5 litre) in a pub in "Stara Ljubljana" (literally "Old (Town) Ljubljana") would cost you around €3.00, while a beer outside Ljubljana would cost around €1.80. A budget minded traveller can hold his own, if they are smart. For example buying your groceries in a large store (supermarket), such are Mercator, Tuš, Spar, Lidl, Hofer, E.Leclerc etc., will be likely cheaper than buying on the market, or in a small store, etc.

A value-added tax (VAT) of 22% (with a reduced rate of 9.5% usually applied to food, including some soft drinks) is charged on most purchases—this is always included in the price displayed. Note that if you are not an EU resident, you are entitled to VAT tax return for purchases over a certain value. Ask the cashier to write down your name on your bill (ra?un, pronounced rah-CHOON) and show this bill when you leave Slovenia through Jože Pu?nik (formerly Brnik) airport.

Tipping

Tipping was traditionally not practiced in Slovenia, but the flip side to the near-disappearance of Communist-style "service with a snarl" is that tips for service are now generally expected at sit-down restaurants, with 10% considered standard.

Eat

People from Slovenia's northern neighbour Austria come to Slovenia just for the food; with a mixture of Subalpine, Italian, Hungarian and Balkan cuisine, most people will find something to their liking - unless they're strict vegetarians. Many claim that the pizza here is as good or even better as in neighboring Italy.

Cuisine

Generally speaking, Slovenian food is heavy, meaty and plain. A typical three-course meal starts with a soup (juha), often just beef (goveja) or chicken (piš?an?ja) broth with egg noodles (rezanci), and then a meat dish served with potatoes (krompir) and a vinegary fresh salad (solata). Fresh bread (kruh) is often served on the side and is uniformly delicious.

Common mains include cutlets (zrezek), sausage (klobasa) and goulash (golaž), all usually prepared from pork (svinjina), lamb (jagnjetina) and game (divja?ina), but there is a large choice of fish (ribe) and seafood even further away from the coast. Popular Italian imports include all sorts of pasta (testenine), pizza (pica), ravioli (ravioli) and risotto (rižota). A major event in the countryside still today is the slaughtering of a pig from which many various products are made: blood sausage (krvavica), roasts (pe?enka), stuffed tripe (polnjeni vampi), smoked sausage (prekajena salama), salami (salama), ham (šunka) and bacon (slanina). Recipes for the preparation of poultry (perutnina), especially turkey (puran), goose (gos), duck (raca) and capon (kopun), have been preserved for many centuries. Chicken (piš?anec) is also common. Squid is fairly common and reasonably priced.

Uniquely Slovenian dishes are available, but you won't find them on every menu, so here are some to look out for:

  • Kraški pršut - air-dried ham, similar to but not the same as Italian prosciutto
  • štruklji - dumplings which Slovenians prepare in 70 different ways stuffed with sweet fillings, meat or vegetables
  • žganci - a type of polenta (ajdovi žganci are made of buckwheat)
  • žlikrofi - potato dumplings similar to gnocchi, specialty of the Idrija region
  • jota - a type of soup made of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon, spare ribs, and the main seasoning is garlic.

Some Slovenian desserts can also be found:

  • potica - a type of nut roll for holiday occasions also prepared with the widest variety of fillings.
  • prekmurska gibanica - a very heavy cakelike pastry of poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, cheese etc.

Places to eat

At the top of the food chain is the restavracija (restaurant), which could be a fancy restaurant with waiters and tablecloths or just a typical Chinese restaurant. More common in the countryside are the gostilna and gostiš?e, rustic inns serving hearty Slovene fare. Lunch sets (dnevno kosilo) cost around €7 for three courses (soup, salad and main) and the large portions are usually well worth the paltry cost.

Fast food is, invariably, cheap, greasy and (more often than not) terrible. It's best to steer clear of the local mutation of the hamburger, which is served up in grills and snack bars known as okrep?evalnica. There is no real Slovenian fast food, but Slovenians have adopted greasy Balkan grills like pleskavica (a spiced-up hamburger patty) and ?evap?i?i (spicy meatballs) are ubiquitous, but one of the more tasty if not healthy options is the Bosnian speciality burek, a large, flaky pastry stuffed with either meat (mesni), cheese (sirni) or apple (jabol?ni), often sold for as little as €2. In recent years, many fast food places started making döner kebabs, and they are now among the most popular fast foods in Slovenia. It's very difficult to find a bad kebab in Slovenia, and they are sold in many places nationwide.

Dietary restrictions

Slovenia is not the best of destinations for a vegetarian, although even the smokiest inn can usually whip up a decent fresh salad (solata) and fried vegetables on request. Lacto-ovo vegetarians will have it easy in Slovenia, while strict vegans won't find more than a handful of vegan restaurants in the country (most of them in Ljubljana). It is wise to know that even the smallest store has its healthy food shelves with many non-animal alternatives. In the cities the Mediterranean chick-pea staple falafel and its cousin the vegiburger have made some inroads on fast-food menus. Many restaurants offer a "vegetarian plate", which includes potatoes, fresh or boiled vegetables and soya "steak".

In coastal cities, there is a paradise for pescetarians and seafood lovers. Local specialities are fish, squids, mussels, and octopus.

Drink

In proper Slovene style, all bases are covered for drinks and you can get very good Slovenian beers, wines and spirits. Tap water is generally drinkable.

Coffee and tea

In Slovenia, coffee (kava) usually means an espresso, and cafes (kavarna) are a common sight with a basic cup costing €1.00-€1.50. One can also order coffee with milk (kava z mlekom) or whipped cream (kava s smetano). Coffee culture is widespread in Slovenia, and one can see Slovenes with friends sitting in the same café for hours. When invited to a cup of coffee at someone's home, expect turkish coffee. Tea (?aj) is nowhere near as popular, and if they do drink it (mostly in the winter), Slovenes prefer all sorts of fruit-flavored and herbal teas over a basic black cup. Tea is served with honey and lemon by request.

Beer

Beer (pivo) is the most popular tipple and the main brands are Laško and Union. Adam Ravbar beer is good quality and is usually hard to find anywhere except in their small brewery (located in Domžale, a town about 10 km north of Ljubljana). A bottle or jug will cost you €2.50 in a pub (pivnica). Ask for veliko (large) for 0.5L and malo (small) for 0.3L. Also try "Union Radler Grapefruit", a refreshing mixture of beer and grapefruit juice.

Wine

Despite what you might think if you've ever sampled an exported sickly sweet Riesling, Slovenian wine (vino) can be quite good — as in Germany, they keep the best stuff for themselves. Generally, the Goriška brda region produces the best reds and the drier whites (in a more Italian/French style), while the Štajerska region produces the best semi-dry to sweet whites, which cater more to the German/Austrian-type of palate. Other local specialities worth sampling are Teran, a very dry red from the Kras region, and Cvi?ek, a red so dry and light it's almost a rosé. Wine is usually priced and ordered by the decilitre (deci, pronounced "de-tsee"), with a deci around €1 and a normal glass containing about two deci.

Spirits

A Slovene brandy known as žganje or (colloquially) šnops, not unlike the Hungarian palinka, can be distilled from almost any fruit. Medeno žganje also known as medica has been sweetened with honey. Vodka is, as in most of Slavic nations, also very popular, especially among the youger generation.

Sleep

Slovenia has a wide variety of accommodation, ranging from five star hotels to secluded cottages in the mountains.

Hostels

There are hostels in all of the tourist destinations in Slovenia. The average price for a basic bed in a dorm is €10-20. Quite a few student dormitories (dijaški dom) are converted into hostels in the summer, but these tend to be poorly located and somewhat dingy.

Mountain Huts can be found in Triglav National Park, and they are very warm, welcoming and friendly. Information about these huts can be found at tourist information offices who will also help you plan your walks around the area and phone the hostels to book them for you. The only way to get to the huts is by foot, and expect a fair bit of walking up hills, as the lowest huts are around 700m up. There are clear signs/information around stating how long it will take to travel to/between all the huts indicated in hours.

Tourist farms

Tourist farms can be found around Slovene countryside and usually they offer wide selection of traditional food, local wine, different sport activities etc. They also offer opportunities to experience real traditional countryside life.

Camping

Camping is not permitted in the national parks of Slovenia, but there are various designated camping grounds. It's advisable to take a camping mat of some sort, as nice, comfortable grass is a luxury at camp sites and you're much more likely to find pitches consisting of small stones.

Learn

Slovenia has four universities, located in LjubljanaMariborKoper, and Nova Gorica as well as several independent colleges (eg BSA Kranj, Bled).

The university in Ljubljana is the oldest, largest and most well-respected teaching institution in the country. The University of Ljubljana also contains 3 art academies: Theatre and Film; Music; Fine Arts. Various recognized international charts list the University of Ljubljana in the top 3% of universities worldwide.

Work

Citizens of the EU, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland can work without the need to apply for any visa in Slovenia.

Citizens of some non-EU countries (see the 'Get in' section above) are permitted to work in Slovenia without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay.

It's possible for English-speaking graduates to get work in a Slovene school teaching English for around a year in a scheme similar to Japan's JET programme.

Stay safe

Slovenia is most likely one of the safest countries to visit, but be aware of your surroundings.

The nationwide emergency number is 112. To call police, dial 113. There are emergency telephones interspersed along the main motorways. You can find the closest SOS-phone by the arrows on the reflection posts.

People may get a bit aggressive in crowded bars and discothèques, and it is not uncommon to be grabbed or groped.

Petty theft is routine in vicinity of Roma settlements in southern parts, especially around Krka river. Don't worry about it, just don't leave your watch on the car seat while you go kayaking.

Stay healthy

There are no unusual health concerns in Slovenia. Hygiene standards are high and tap water is potable.

While in nature, always use tick repellents, due to the Borreliosis and Meningitis danger. Borreliosis is very widespread in the country.

There are two species of venomous adders in the Julian Alps. You are unlikely to be bitten, but if you are, you should seek medical help as antiserums are available (although actually seldom administered). In the forests in the south, you may encounter a bear; Slovenia contains the highest bear population in Europe, but attacks are very rare. Normally, in countries that have been domesticated for several thousand years, the indigenous wild fauna will be either very skittish or very comfortable with humans. It depends on the area you are in, of course, but use your head. If you go camping in the Julian Alps and bring a lot of sausage and bacon, chances are you will attract some unwanted visitors.

Respect

Slovenians are generally open and friendly, so don't hesitate to address people as those younger than 50 understand English and will be eager to help you. You will impress them if you try using some basic Slovenian words. Slovenian is rarely spoken by foreigners, so your effort will be appreciated and rewarded.

Slovenians will insist when offering something, as "no" doesn't always mean "no," they just think it's polite for you to refuse, and polite for them to insist. Don't worry unnecessarily, but still you should take some normal precautions to study your host first.

Slovenians are proud for having preserved their national identity (especially the language) in spite of the pressures from neighboring nations in past centuries. Due to their economic success as well as historical and contemporary cultural bonds to Central Europe, they usually don't like their country to be described as part of "Eastern Europe". While Slovenian is closely related to Serbian and Croatian, it is not the same language. Another common misconception is that Slovenia was part of the Soviet Bloc, while it was in fact the northernmost country of Yugoslavia. You can, however, freely discuss these topics; just be aware that you can hear contrasting sides of the story, depending on who you talk to and his/her political affinity. There is still a strong division among leftists and rightists. Be careful if entering a discussion on open territorial issues with Croatia or on the Slovenian civil war during WWII and its aftermath. Consider these controversial topics a taboo.

There is an active lesbian and gay scene in Slovenia. As elsewhere in this part of Europe, homosexuals are generally safe, although there have been a few reported attacks in the past. Be cautious in the evening and during the night, especially in cities. Women/girls holding hands are considered normal and a sign of friendship.

Practical advice:

  • If you are invited to dinner at someone's home, bring a bottle of good wine. It's expected to give a compliment to a cook. Do it before you are asked if you liked the meal!
  • Slovenians generally wear slippers at home, so take your shoes off when you enter. They will offer you slippers or insist you keep the shoes on. They'll normally be very gracious, knowing that you are a visitor and don't know all of their customs, but try not to be ignorantly callous.
  • It's normal to shake hands when introduced to someone. Don't try to make a kiss when introduced, though in the younger generation, kissing and hugging is not uncommon between friends.
  • The Slovenian Alps (especially the highest peak Triglav, named after a Slavic god) are a national symbol. Slovenia is the only country to have its highest peak on the national flag.
  • Don't litter!
  • It's common to greet people with Dober dan (Good day) when you meet in the mountains, and to say Sre?no (Good luck) when you depart. There is a strong spirit of camaraderie in the mountains.
  • It is also polite to say Dober dan to people passing by in small towns and villages.
  • Try to avoid using the phrase, "May you be kicked by a horse!", as it is considered an insult.

Connect

Telephone

The international calling code for Slovenia is 386, and the prefix for international calls is 00; the area code prefix is 0. Some number blocks are reserved for special use: 080 are toll-free numbers and 090 are commercial services, which are usually expensive.

Mobile networks use the common European frequencies (900 and 1800 MHz for GSM/LTE and 2100 MHz for 3G; 800 MHz is planned for LTE). Two major Slovenian mobile companies, Mobitel and Simobil, provide an excellent coverage in GSM and 3G, but 3G can be unavailable in mountainous regions. Roaming between European phone companies is becoming cheaper due to the EU regulation setting a maximum of 0.29€ per minute for calls made and 0.09€ for calls received, while calls to or from non-EU providers remain expensive. Slovenian pre-paid SIM cards are also available in supermarkets and gas stations.

Telekom Slovenije operates around 3500 phone booths. They unfortunately do not accept coins but require the use of cards costing 3-15€.

Internet

Slovenia is generally well covered by inexpensive broadband internet due to fierce competition between multiple companies. Internet cafes are thus common in cities and internet access is offered by most hotels and hostels.

A free wireless internet network is also being set up in some cities by volunteers (Ljubljana, Maribor, Nova Gorica). You can use it if you have a computer or a WiFi enabled phone.

Postal Services

The offices of Pošta Slovenije are ubiquitous. Look for French horn-like signs on dark yellow background. Delivery takes one day within Slovenia, a few days within Europe and (usually) less than two weeks worldwide. DHL is also available.

Postal rates

Postage for an inland postcard is €0.40 (value of the "B" stamp); for an inland letter (up to 20g) it is €0.34 (value of the "A" stamp).

Postage for an international postcard is €0.56; for an international letter (up to 20g) it is €0.60 (value of the "C" stamp).

Postage for an international airmail postcard is €1.25, for an international airmail letter (up to 20g) it is €1.29.

Newsagents or shops selling postcards usually sell stamps, too. If this is not the case, you can always buy them at the Post Office.

For airmail, you will have to go to the Post Office and ask for prednostno. You can pay directly at the counter or attach proper stamps.

Rates correct as of August 2014.

The Amateur Traveler talks to Shel Holtz (from the For Immediate Release podcast) about his trip to Slovenia. Here about the food, the wine, the lake and the cake as Shel describes his visit to the capital of Ljubjana, the caves at PostojnaPortoroz castle and Lake Bled. Slovenia is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.

Hear about travel to Slovenia as the Amateur Traveler talks again to Michael Soncina about his visit to the country. The country is independent, beautiful and deserves to see more tourists than it gets.

Kate at the Pyramid, Tirana Albania

The Balkans are my favorite region in the world. I’ve now visited four summers in a row: Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro in 2012; Macedonia and Kosovo in 2013, Croatia and Slovenia in 2014; and finally Albania, Montenegro, and Serbia in 2015.

Oh, Albania. This country is probably the most interesting place I visited in 2015. And Albania is chock full of my favorite things about the Balkans: astounding natural beauty, a less-developed tourism infrastructure with fewer foreigners, rich UNESCO World Heritage Sites, cheap prices, beautiful mountains, cafe culture, and a wacky capital city.

Tirana was my final destination in Albania, and I wasn’t quite as excited for it as I was for Saranda and the Riviera. But that quickly faded away when I realized what a cool place Tirana was! I wouldn’t quite call Tirana the weirdest city in the region — that honor belongs to Skopje — but I’ll gladly award it second place.

Laundry Tirana Albania

I arrived in Tirana from Berat on an aged bus that seemed to be held together with duct tape and prayers. Dropped off on a random street corner, I hopped into a cab with a driver who spoke about as much English as I spoke Albanian. We communicated entirely in Italian, him pointing out the landmarks as we entered the tree-lined streets of Blloku.

My heart began to beat fast. I had never seen a city like this before — elegant and riotous, drab and rainbow.

Tirana Albania

A City in Color

Like many Eastern European cities, Tirana is filled with ugly Communist-era architecture. These buildings are usually eyesores, and while many cities have charming old towns, central Tirana is instead full of cement block structures.

Unlike other Eastern European cities, though, you’ll find several of these buildings awash in color. Mayor Edi Rama, who was elected in 2000, began a campaign to bring color to Tirana. Some of the buildings have stripes across them; others are painted bright contrasting colors.

Rama did a TEDx talk about campaign to fill Tirana with color. You can view it here.

Yellow Building Tirana AlbaniaTirana AlbaniaTirana Albania

For the Love of Blloku

More than anything, it was Tirana’s ritziest neighborhood, Blloku, that made me fall in love with the city.

I walked around, whispering to myself, This is Tirana?! Not what I had pictured at all. It looked so…fancy.

Tirana AlbaniaTirana AlbaniaTirana AlbaniaLake Tirana Albania

For about 40 years, Blloku was restricted to the political elite of Albania. Ordinary people were not allowed in. When communism fell in 1991, Blloku began its transformation into a neighborhood for all.

Blloku is where you’ll find the fanciest bars, restaurants, and cafes in Tirana. And those CAFES! They’re piled on top of each other!

You might recall that Albanian food was very hit or miss for me, so I indulged in international food here, especially Italian food. A three-course meal with wine will set you back around $12!

Pyramid Tirana Albania

Climbing the Pyramid

In the middle of Tirana sits an enormous derelict pyramid. It was originally constructed in 1988 as a museum to honor dictator Enver Hoxha; by 1991, it had become a conference center, then it became a NATO command center during the war in Kosovo.

Today, it’s mostly abandoned, looking like something out of a horror movie.

And it begs to be climbed.

Pyramid Tirana Albania

So I did just that.

Pyramid Tirana AlbaniaView from the Pyramid Tirana AlbaniaPyramid Tirana AlbaniaKate at the Pyramid, Tirana Albania

I think climbing the pyramid was my favorite experience in Tirana! More than anything, it represented the city’s beauty and weird factor.

Kids Pyramid Tirana Albania

Local kids climbed and slid, climbed and slid. (My friend Erisa, a Tirana native, later told me that she used to do this as a kid as well, sliding down on cardboard!)

If you’re interested in climbing the pyramid, I have some advice:

1. Be okay with making a fool of yourself. Locals see this as an activity for kids; only occasional tourists join in.

2. Wear decent shoes. I wore flip flops and was sweating so much my feet kept sliding out of them as I neared the top.

3. Wear sunscreen. There is no protection from the sun up there.

4. Prepare to slide down on your butt. Unlike the kids, it took me about 15 minutes. I could have torn up my shorts if I hadn’t been so careful.

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Sunset Cocktails

In most places I visit, I like to climb a tall building to look over the landscape. One of the tallest building in Tirana, the Sky Tower, is home to the Panoramic Bar and Restaurant on top.

I’ll let the sunset views speak for themselves.

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I had a glass of prosecco, of course. You all know why! The cost? 350 lek. That’s a mere $2.83.

I so love this country.

Tirana Albania

Shopping Galore

I’m usually not much of a shopper, but I went absolutely crazy in Albania. First of all, everything was so cute and cheap and funky. Secondly, I was about to attend a music festival for the first time ever and had NOTHING TO WEAR.

Balkan women tend to be very thin, so keep that in mind while shopping. Sizes above 10 more or less do not exist, and sometimes you’ll struggle to find anything larger than an 8.

Some of the items I bought included:

Kate at Sea Dance

How festival-y is this outfit? I basically lived in this at Sea Dance in Montenegro.

Kate in Castanea, Sicily

This dress, worn in Sicily, is now referred to as my Albania Dress. It works just as well with leggings, boots, and a blazer as it does with flip-flops.

Kate at Albanian Victoria's Secret

This I definitely did not buy — a business shirt attached to a lacy thong! (I thought this was hilarious. It was one of the most popular photos I shared on Facebook all summer.)

But seriously, the Albanian version of Victoria’s Secret is insane. It’s basically all of the brightest, wildest, trashiest lingerie that they couldn’t sell elsewhere. I had to buy myself a crazy bra — a melange of neon purple satin and black lace, with the power to push your boobs up into the stratosphere.

Best souvenir ever.

Lake Tirana Albania

Endless Quirks

It seemed like everywhere I turned in Tirana, I would find something that made me smile.

Bunker Tirana Albania

There was a bunker on display in central Blloku. (There are thousands of these spaceship-like structures dotting the Albanian countryside.) Behind it is a chunk of the Berlin Wall.

Red Bull Ice Cream Tirana Albania

Red Bull-flavored ice cream. Be still, my heart.

Rottweiler Dog in Tirana Albania

A Rottweiler roughly the size of a horse.

Tirana Opera House Flag

And, of course, the blood-red Albanian flag proudly displayed everywhere.

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The Takeaway

I really want to return to Tirana! Albania is such a cool emerging country, and still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface.

While at the rooftop bar, I chatted with a few Swiss girls who were in Tirana for their second trip. Like me, they had come on a whim and had been unexpectedly blown away. I feel that other frequent travelers would feel the same way.

When I return, one other aspect of Tirana that I want to explore more is the nightlife. I only saw a tiny part of the scene, and I can tell there is a lot more to discover.

Essential Info: I stayed at Propaganda Hostel, which is ideally located in the Blloku neighborhood. I had a private ensuite room for 25 euros ($28) per night. (Some places in Albania charge in euros instead of lek, but you can usually pay in lek.) This was a terrific hostel and I recommend it, especially for its location. That weird Victoria’s Secret is on the block.

For shopping, I recommend perusing the streets of Blloku and the TEG mall just outside the city. (Take a cab from anywhere or a bus from the Skanderbeg Square, the central square in Tirana.)

Tirana is one of few world capitals without a central bus station. Plan on getting dropped off on a random street corner and grabbing a cab! If departing by bus, ask your accommodation where and when to get a bus to your next destination.

If you’re coming to or from Montenegro, I highly recommend the Montenegro Hostel shuttle which runs back and forth between Tirana and Kotor, Budva, and Podgorica. It cost me 40 euros ($45) for a one-way ride to Budva and took five hours. It was a comfortable, air-conditioned journey and I highly recommend it, as the alternative is taking several public buses of dubious quality. They also stop for a photo op at beautiful Sveti Stefan.

What’s your favorite weird city?The Funk Factor of Tirana, Albania

Boston Fourth of July

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president, we joked that he’d be done within a few months. Comedians had a field day. He couldn’t gain any serious support, could he?

Until he started leading all the polls…and winning primaries.

Holy shit. This could actually happen.

“If Trump gets elected, I’m leaving the country!”

I know. Everyone says it. But there’s no way to actually do that, is there?

OF COURSE THERE IS! You could leave the country in SO many different ways — ways that are 100% legal and ethical.

Kate on the Sydney Bridgeclimb

1) Get a working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand.

If you’re 30 or under, you qualify to spend a year living and working in Australia or New Zealand! These are the only traditional working visas currently available to Americans.

In both countries, you can apply for the visa if you’re as old as 30; you can enter the country within one year of receiving your visa, which means you could start your year at age 31. Australia also offers the option of taking a second year if you spend three months working in “regional Australia” (rural areas and outside the most popular tourist destinations). Edit: I’ve since learned the second year is not available to Americans, sadly. Brits and Canadians can take advantage of this option, however.

You could spend your year bartending in Cairns or Queenstown, working on a winery in the Barossa Valley or Marlborough, working at a corporate job in Melbourne or Wellington, or taking on a hospitality job just about anywhere. And those are just a few of the possibilities.

For more, check out the Australia working holiday visa site and the New Zealand working holiday site.

Hongdae

2) Get a job teaching English abroad.

Teaching English abroad is one of the easiest ways U.S. citizens can get a job working abroad. Most countries only require a university degree in any field; others also require a TEFL certificate.

The most opportunity for Americans is in Asia. South Korea tends to offer the best packages: a competitive salary plus free housing and free flights to and from your home country. Many teachers in South Korea are able to comfortably save more than $10,000 per year and pay down debt or go traveling afterward.

Japan, China, and Taiwan also have great environments for teaching English with decent benefits. Entry-level teaching jobs in Southeast Asia and Latin America tend to pay only enough to get by.

While many Americans dream of teaching English in Europe, it’s extremely difficult to work in the EU without EU citizenship and the jobs are thus few. Eastern Europe and Turkey are a better bet.

Options in the Middle East tend to pay the most but have the most stringent requirements, often a teaching certification and experience in your home country and/or an advanced degree.

This is just the most basic of overviews — head to ESL Cafe to learn anything and everything about teaching English abroad.

El Tunco, El Salvador

3) Join the U.S. Foreign Service.

Dreamed of working as a diplomat around the world? The U.S. Foreign Service is your way in. If you’re able to pass the notoriously difficult Foreign Service Exam, you’ll be eligible to work two-year contracts in countries around the world.

The goal of the U.S. Foreign Service is “to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.” Basically, you represent the United States while abroad.

There are several different tracks: Administration, Construction Engineering, Facility Management, Information Technology, International Information and English Language Programs, Medical and Health, Office Management, and Law Enforcement and Security.

You don’t get to choose your destination — you could be headed to any of 270 embassies around the world — but if you work in a hardship destination, you’ll often get preferential treatment regarding your next assignment. Like two of my lovely readers whom I met in Mexico last year — after working as diplomats in Pakistan, they got stationed in Cuba next.

Check out all the details on the U.S. Foreign Service’s website.

Bitola

4) Join the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is perhaps the most famous volunteer program in America, starting in 1961 under President Kennedy. Volunteers are sent around the world in primarily two-year contracts working in the fields of Education, Health, Community Development, Environment, Youth in Development, Agriculture, and Peace Corps Response.

You don’t get to choose where you go — you’re sent where your skills are needed the most. That means if you speak Spanish, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Latin America; if you speak French, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Africa.

Most people I’ve known to serve in the Peace Corps describe it as life-changing. It’s a fantastic way to serve your country and make lasting contributions toward building a better planet.

For more, visit the PeaceCorps.gov.

Koolbaai

5) Find a job abroad.

I know it sounds daunting to find a job abroad when you don’t know anything about it, but Americans do it successfully every day!

The U.S. State Department has put together a comprehensive list of resources for finding work abroad, no matter what field you’re in.

Ljubljana

6) Study abroad or get another degree.

Are you still in college? Studying abroad will be one of the most valuable (and fun!) things you do in your college career. Here are the lessons I learned from my semester in Florence in 2004.

Already have a degree? This could be a great opportunity to get your master’s abroad! Several countries offer you the option of getting your master’s in just one year, unlike the standard two years in the United States.

You probably know that several countries offer free university education to their citizens. Well, several countries offer free university education to international students as well, including Americans! Don’t speak the local language? They offer degrees given in English as well.

It was big news when Germany began offering free education to international students in 2014. Other countries include Brazil, Finland, France, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden.

Many of these countries also offer stipends, making getting your degree infinitely more affordable than in the U.S.

London Millennium Bridge

7) If your job has an international office, see if you can transfer.

This isn’t an option if you work for a small, independent, local business. But it could work if you work for a larger company.

I used to work for a company with offices in Boston and London, and plenty of people migrated across the Atlantic in each direction. The company took care of the sponsorship and all the red tape.

Another option: if your company has an international parent company, see if you can find a job abroad in one of your parent company’s other companies.

Playa Samara

8) See if you can start working remotely.

If your job is mostly doable online, you may have the ability to start working remotely and set up shop anywhere in the world.

Note that this is something best done little by little. Start by doing exceptionally outstanding work for awhile, then ask your boss if you can work remotely one day per week. Make that your most productive day of the week. If it goes well and your company is pleased, keep negotiating for more time working remotely.

If you’re able to transition to working 100% remotely, keep in mind that you may need to stay within the same time zone or in a destination where you have excellent internet. Still, that’s a small price to pay for working from, say, a beach town in Costa Rica!

Berlin

9) Look into the German Artist Visa.

Entering the EU long-term is a major challenge for most Americans, but one of the easiest ways in (aside from getting a student visa) is to get the German “artist visa.”

“Artist” is a relative term here. In this case, it means freelancer. If you’re able to prove multiple contracts paying you enough to get by, that may be enough for you to secure this visa and live in Germany.

Most people with this visa choose to live in Berlin due to its art scene, expat scene, and relatively low cost of living (albeit one that continues to rise). Increasingly popular alternatives are hip Hamburg and artsy Leipzig.

Check out Travels of Adam’s guide to getting the German artist visa or, alternatively, a student visa.

Paris Marais

10) Become an au pair in Europe.

If you love kids, don’t mind living with a family, and want to live like a local, becoming an au pair could be an excellent option for you. Many Americans become au pairs by finding a job and family online, then registering for a student visa to give you a year in the country.

The student visa could be for as little as a few hours of language study each week; some countries, like France, are notoriously lax about whether you actually attend class and many au pairs decide to ditch the classes entirely.

Being an au pair could be the time of your life — or a complete disaster. The best thing is to know exactly what kind of experience you want — how many kids and how old? Living with the family or in your own apartment? Urban, suburban, or rural environment? Would you be expected to cook or not? — and finding a family that fits your needs well.

Ashley Abroad has a great resource for getting started as an au pair.

Christmas at JJ's

11) Save up, quit your job, and backpack the world for awhile.

Yes. You can absolutely do this. Plenty of people around the world travel for months at a time — it’s very common for people from other western countries, but far less popular for Americans.

If you want your money to go the furthest, stick to a cheaper region. Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central America, and Eastern Europe are all great options. You can live in parts of these regions on less than $1000 per month if you want to (but that amount doesn’t include start-up expenses like flights, gear and insurance).

Here’s how I saved $13,000 in just seven months. That was almost enough to sustain me for six months in Southeast Asia from 2010-2011, but keep in mind prices have increased a bit since then.

Santa Cruz Atitlan Guatemala

12) Move somewhere cheap for awhile.

Not in the mood to be traveling all the time? You could just move somewhere. Many countries have visa policies that allow you to live long-term by leaving the country every few months and coming right back. (Be sure to check on your country’s latest visa regulations, as they can change at any time.)

I still think that Chiang Mai, Thailand, offers the maximum value for a great price. As a solo adult, you can comfortably get by in Chiang Mai for less than $800 per month, or even less if you’re part of a couple, and there are plenty of amenities for the many expats who live and work there.

Other popular options for expats? Oaxaca, Mexico. Ubud, Bali. Bangkok, Thailand. Medellin, Colombia. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (particularly Panajachel and San Pedro). If you have the ability to live in the EU, consider Berlin, Germany; Lisbon, Portugal; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; or any town you can imagine in Spain: Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona.

Ragusa, Sicily

13) Get a second citizenship based on your ancestry.

Several European countries offer the option of getting a passport based on your ancestry. I’ve known Americans who have gained Irish, British, Italian, and German citizenship due to their parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents being born in those countries.

The best part? Gaining EU citizenship means you can move around freely within the EU, not just the country where you hold the ancestry! I have an American friend with new German citizenship who’s thinking about moving to London. That’s totally fine on a German passport.

Do research this first — every country is different and has its own conditions. Some don’t offer ancestry-based citizenship at all. (While my great-grandfather immigrated from Italy, I don’t qualify for Italian citizenship because he naturalized before my grandmother was born.) Here’s a guide to obtaining citizenship in European countries.

Israel also offers citizenship based on the Law of Return. You must either be Jewish by birth (meaning your mother or grandmother is Jewish) or a convert to Judaism.

Keep in mind that this could potentially take years, depending on the country. It took three years for my friend Mike to get his Italian citizenship. (Then again, as someone who lived in Italy and visits often, they are not the most organized of nations when it comes to this kind of stuff. Or anything else, frankly.)

Skellig Michael

14) Fall in love with someone from a different country, get married, and move to their country.

I know a lot of people, particularly women, dream of this — meeting a handsome fisherman on a Greek island, or a brawny Australian at a beach bar in Thailand, and falling in love and it being destiny and your friends being so jealous.

Well…as someone who has lived in another country for two different boyfriends, let me tell you that the reality can often be quite difficult, even if you have a good relationship. Living in a different country is like fighting through hundreds of cultural differences every day, and there can be a chasm in your relationship if you’re struggling while your partner is surrounded by everything he knows and loves. It’s much harder if you don’t speak the local language or you’re living in a small town.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a strong support system on the ground. Make sure you have interests, activities, and a social circle outside your partner. Most importantly, make sure your partner understands how challenging it is for you to be there, even if you’re happy most of the time. Make sure he makes an effort to travel to America, too.

You’re the one who is sacrificing here. Even if you were excited to move there. Even if he supports you financially. Even if you work online and have the freedom to live anywhere.

quebec-ice-slide-gallery

15) Just move to Canada!

Everyone says they’re moving to Canada if a candidate they hate is elected. Well, this guy actually moved to Canada when George W. Bush was elected. That link gives you an overview of ways for Americans to move to Canada today.

Pink House New Orleans

But in all seriousness…

I know this is a tongue-in-cheek list, but I seriously hope you’re not voting for Donald Trump. (I know I’m preaching to the choir here. The kind of person interested enough in other countries to read a travel blog is not the kind of person who would support a xenophobic presidential candidate.) Please do everything you can to keep him from being elected.

But there’s something else I want to say.

In the past six years, I’ve met many American travel bloggers who have said something along the lines of, “I just don’t like it in America. I don’t want to live where I could be killed in a random shooting or where I could be bankrupted if I’m hospitalized. I don’t like it here anymore, so I’m leaving.”

I get it. I was like that. Parts of me still feel that way. But not anymore.

I recently moved back to the U.S. after more than five years of travel. There were many reasons. One is because I am sick of doing nothing. I want to be here and fight to make my country better. And I’m getting started.

All of us can run away. Believe me — there’s stuff about America that keeps me up at night. Frequent school shootings and a Congress that refuses to pass any kind of reasonable legislation like closing the gun show loophole. Black Americans, including children, being killed by the police for no reason at all. The racism, both overt and subtle, that our president receives on a daily basis. Out-of-control elections and candidates supported by corporations. The possibility of a religious ideologue being appointed to the Supreme Court.

So why do I even bother? Because when you choose to be inactive, you’re giving power to the opposition.

If you choose to travel, or to live abroad, that’s wonderful! But don’t use it as an excuse to check out of America completely. Donate money to causes that will make America better. Donate your time to causes and see if you can help online. Get absentee ballots, familiarize yourself with candidates in every race, and vote in every election. These things really can make a difference.

Would you leave the country if Trump was elected?15 legal, ethical ways to leave the country if Donald Trump gets elected.

Laptop in Malta

There’s a question that I’ve been asked more and more often lately:

“There are so many travel blogs out there today. If I start, I’m going to be so far behind. Do I have any chance of making it a career? Is it even possible?”

A lot of people would say no — but I disagree.

I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There’s more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you’re open to a lot of opportunities that I didn’t have.

 

RELATED: How to Start a Travel Blog The Right Way

 

Here are a few tips from 2016 that did not apply to the space until fairly recently.

Chiang Mai Travel Bloggers

Know you don’t have to be the biggest travel blogger of all.

Just a few years ago, only the top tier of bloggers were making a full-time living from their blog, and only a few were making enough money to live anywhere more expensive than Southeast Asia.

That has changed. More people are making decent livings. You still see plenty of bloggers living in Southeast Asia, but an increasing number are living in pricey cities in North America and Europe.

A lot of new bloggers start with the goal of being one of the biggest travel bloggers of all. (Quite frankly, that was my motivation in the early days.) If you do that, you’re going to be chasing it forever. But if you don’t let fame motivate you — if you instead want to have a quality working career — you can absolutely make it happen.

Think of it this way: every TV actor dreams of having Viola Davis or Kerry Washington’s career, headlining a popular Thursday night drama. But you could also be a working actor appearing in small guest roles on everything from Law & Order to Brooklyn Nine-Nine to random commercials and the latest Judd Apatow flick, the kind of person where people say, “I know that face! What’s she been in?”

Those actors still make money from their craft. Many of them have a pretty good work/life balance as well. That’s something to keep in mind.

Kate Quaker Oats Murder

That said — most of the big names have slowed down their travels.

There was a time when the people behind the biggest travel blogs were on the road at least 80% of the time. That’s not the case anymore. We’re very tired.

I’m not going to name names because some people are keeping it quieter than others, but a great many popular travel bloggers have chosen to get year-round apartments with leases and travel far less often. (Most of you know that I am one of these bloggers, having moved to New York seven weeks ago.)

That means that if you have the opportunity to travel long-term, you’re going to be doing so in a way that not a lot of others are doing at the moment. That’s especially good for real-time platforms like Snapchat. More on Snapchat below.

Kate in Albania

Niche is good; personality plus specialty is better.

Niche is always a big discussion — people always talk about how important it is to HAVE A NICHE. You need to open that proverbial fly-fishing blog!

But in this day and age, I see it differently. I think the most important thing is to have a well-developed voice and personality along with a few specialties on which you can become an expert.

Alex in Wanderland, for example, has a specialty in diving.

Young Adventuress has a specialty in New Zealand travel.

Flora the Explorer has a specialty in sustainable volunteering.

These specialties are not the only subjects that these bloggers write about, so I wouldn’t go so far as to call them their niches. But they are areas that differentiate them and give them expertise and credibility. If I needed help with any of those subjects, I would go to their sites in a heartbeat. (Also, it’s worth adding that Liz didn’t even visit New Zealand until she had already been blogging, so yes, it is possible to develop a specialty on the road!)

This is especially important for all the women trying to differentiate themselves as a solo female travel blogger. There are a million of you now, ladies. Work on diversifying.

The most difficult part is developing your voice and personality, and that can only be done by writing, writing, writing.

Smartphone Challenge

Social media is more important than ever.

We’ve entered a time where social media can often eclipse the value of your blog. That was never the case early in my blogging years, but I’m seeing it more and more today, especially with Instagram.

At this point in time, Instagram is by far the most important social network. It’s widely consumed by “real people,” it’s prioritized by brands (translation: this is where the money is), and it allows you to show your strengths. A company may be more interested in advertising on Instagram than anywhere on your blog.

But this means you’re going to throw a lot of time and effort into creating a beautiful, engaging Instagram profile.

Snapchat is another big network on which I recommend getting started. It’s huge among “real people” and it’s still early enough that you can be an early adopter, like me.

Another place that can become a game-changer is Pinterest. Pinterest now regularly drives traffic to lots of my pages that don’t necessarily do well in search.

Other social networks are important. Some people swear by Facebook (and I do quite a bit with it); others live and die by Twitter. And by all means, yes, work on growing your Facebook audience in particular. But if I were you, I’d throw your time and resources into focusing on Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

Kate and Brenna in Koh Lanta

The time to get into video is now. Or yesterday.

Video is projected to grow more and more — a year and a half ago, Mark Zuckerberg said that he expected video to be the dominant content on Facebook within five years. I’ve said before that not doing enough on YouTube keeps me up at night. I just feel like I haven’t had to learn all the skills.

There is plenty of room to grow on YouTube — I’d argue that you can grow faster and far more effectively as a travel YouTuber than as a travel blogger. The time is definitely now.

FYI — Travel Blog Success is having a sale on their videography course this week. It’s 35% off. See below for more.

I actually bought the course last year but I need to make creating better videos a priority for this summer.

Angkor Wat at Dawn

I still mean it — get out of Southeast Asia.

This is one of the most controversial pieces of advice I’ve given, and I stand by it. Southeast Asia is tremendously oversaturated in the travel blogosphere at this point in time.

Is it possible to focus on Southeast Asia and still become a prominent travel blogger? Of course it is. You can stand out if you consistently create genuinely original content.

But most people who spend time in Southeast Asia don’t do that. They write “this is what it’s like to cruise Halong Bay” and “here are photos from my day at Angkor Wat” and “the best things to do in Ubud are these” and “this is how awesome Koh Lanta is.”

It’s good stuff, sure, and it will be useful to your readers who aren’t familiar with those destinations, but posts like those will not allow you to gain traction as a travel blogger. Major influencers will not be sharing these posts because they’ve been seen a thousand times before.

If you want to spend extended time in a cheap region, consider parts of Mexico and Central America (inland Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, inland Nicaragua), parts of South America (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia), parts of Central and Eastern Europe (Balkans excluding Croatia and Slovenia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, former USSR), and/or parts of South Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka).

Because while plenty of people have written about those destinations, they are nowhere near the saturation level of Southeast Asia.

Bloghouse Mentors: Kate, Lisa, Cailin, Mike, Steph

Travel Blog Success Will Help You Grow Fast, Well, and Efficiently.

I push Travel Blog Success because it’s the best product out there. Why?

  1. The course will teach you so much at a fast rate. If you read the materials and put the work in, you won’t make the mistakes that the majority of bloggers make.
  2. The course comes with discounts and perks. Savings on premium plugins, hosting, design products, conference tickets, and more.
  3. The Facebook community is the best travel blogging group on the web. Forget the giant groups on Facebook — the private Travel Blog Success group is the only place where I give out advice to bloggers publicly, and lots of other experts do, too.

And yes, I earn an affiliate commission if you purchase through that link. 26% on the main course, 15% on the others. But I only link to products that I actually use, like, and recommend. Always have, always will.

What do I always tell people? Wait until the course on sale. Because even though that means I’ll be making a much smaller commission, I’d still rather have you get the maximum discount.

Well, it’s on sale now. 35% off all courses. And since I last wrote about it, more courses have been added in addition to the main Travel Blog Success course:

  • Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards — A course on getting partnerships, both comped and paid
  • Bloggers to Bylines — A course on becoming a freelance travel writer.
  • Videography for Travel Bloggers — A course on becoming a travel videographer or YouTuber.

The sale ends Friday, March 25, 2016, at 11:00 PM ET.

San Juan del Sur Sunset

Because yes: It’s still possible to make it if you start today.

I know some people will disagree with me, but I think that in many ways, it’s a lot easier to get started now than it was when I did in 2010. The market may be crowded, but there is always — always — room for excellent content.

And whether you’re watching a brilliant sunset on a beach in Nicaragua or sitting on your purple couch in your Harlem apartment (which I may be as I write this), the life of a travel blogger is incredibly rewarding. Each day, I feel so grateful that this is what I do for a living.

Note: the links to Travel Blog Success are affiliate links. I only use affiliate links on products that I actually use, like, and recommend. This course is worth every penny and then some!I think now is actually a good time to start a travel blog. There's more money to be had in the industry. Blogs and personalities become popular much faster. New social networks becoming progressively more prominent. In short, you're open to a lot of opportunities that I didn't have.

sex idioms from around the world

Photo: Michael Prewett

1. The French don’t say that “a woman is busty”…they say that “there’s a crowd on the balcony” (Il y a du monde au balcon).

2. The Spanish don’t “have sex”…they “wet the churro” (Mojar el churro).

3. Chilean men don’t masturbate…they “pull their guts” (Jalar la tripa).

4. For a Portuguese, you are not “sexy”…you are “as good as corn.” (Boa como o milho).

5. Lithuanians don’t have “a dirty mind”…they have very, very “curly thoughts” (Garbanotos mintys).

6. Morning sex is off the cards in Slovenia…“roosters breakfast” is preferred (Petelinji zajtrk).

7. In Quebec men don’t pleasure themselves…they “take the fat off the salami” (Dégraisser le salami).

8. A Dutch person won’t invite you for a night of romance…they’ll invite you “to eat rusk” (Een beschuitje met iemand eten).

9. A Brazilian man does not “have sex”, he “dips the cookie” (Molhar o biscoito) or, he “drowns the goose” (Afogar o ganso).

10. Peruvians don’t have a one-night stand…they have a “hit and run” (Lo de ellos fue choque y fuga).

11. French men don’t “masturbate”…they “tickle their leek” (Se chatouiller le poireau).

12. An Indonesian isn’t called a “playboy” or a “womanizer”…he’s a “land crocodile” (Buaya darat).

13. A Colombian doesn’t “hook up” with someone…they “eat them” (Ella se lo comió).

14. A Mexican doesn’t have “sexual intercourse in the morning”…they throw “the morning one” (Se avienta el mañanero).

15. Chilean men don’t have erectile dysfunction…they have “an umbrella handle,” (Cacho paraguas).

16. In Quebec guys don’t have a huge sex drive…they have “lead in their pencils” (y’a de la mine dans le crayon).

17. The French won’t say that you have “intense sexual desire”…they say that “your ass is on fire” (Avoir le feu au cul).

18. Chileans don’t experience a sex drought…they are “with the accumulated lottery” (Andar con el kino acumulado). More like this: 48 ways travel is like sex

Photo: The Digital Way

Travelers often opt for the same paths of Europe; France, Spain, and Italy. If you’re looking for an great nightlife, quieter beaches and dramatic scenery combined with fascinating history, arts and culture, Eastern Europe has it all. Travelsupermarket has put together an infographic of 5 road trips around the region. We’ve selected 3 of the routes here to inspire you.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Vienna – Vienna

Vienna —  Ljubljana — Zagreb — Budapest — Krakow — Wroclaw — Prague — Vienna

Total days: 12 Distance: 2,370 KM Best time to go: From May to September

Highlights

  • Explore the Sigmund Fraud Museum in Vienna
  • Enjoy the scenery around Lake Blend
  • Visit Museum of Broken Relationships Zagreb
  • Relax in Budapest’s thermal baths
  • Step back in time at the 900-year-old Spis Castle
  • Taste Vodka in Kazimierz at night
  • Fish in the Labska Dam in the Kroknose Moutain Range
  • Tour the prestigious wineries of Krasna Hora

Vienna, Austria

 AlbertinaVienna, AustriaMuseum browsing with my favourites, from Picasso to Monet

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 Kavarna TromostovjeLjubljana, Slovenia#coffee

Zagreb, Croatia

 Hostel Swanky MintZagreb, CroatiaBest hostel in Zagreb! Fabulous place to meet people. Happy hour at the sweet bar downstairs is fairly lively every night. Superb breakfast and well-designed hostel. So clean with friendly staff! Would most definitely stay here again as I wish I could have stayed longer before. #hostels #zagreb #croatia #food #casual #free-wifi

Budapest, Hungary

 Castle HillBudapest, HungaryBudapest’s Castle Hill is a traveler’s dream, an architectural mecca, a cultural hub. It’s truly a one-stop-shop that perfectly bundles up the city’s historical essence into one lovely stroll. Start at the Buda Castle and enter from its less-visited southern side. Walk its historical grounds and soak in the city views before sauntering towards Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, where the ‘ooh’s’ and ‘ahh’s’ won’t stop. Polish your promenade off with a loop around the residential area for even more expansive views into the Buda side of the city. #budapest #europe #travel #history #architecture #churches #viewpoints #free

Kraków, Poland

 plac NowyKraków, PolandIt’s nighttime, you’re hungry, you’re in Kraków. Remedy: street food at plac Nowy. This area will be buzzing with young energy, each patron attempting to satisfy the same late-night craving. The zapiekanka is its best seller: a long toasted baguette topped with mushrooms, cheese, sauce, and your choice of meats or other veggies. Nearly all the stands feature the famous snack, so pick the longest line (the locals know best) and enjoy. #krakow #poland #streetfood #kazimierz #food #travel #casual #cheap-eats #europe

Prague, Czech Republic

 John Lennon WallPrague, Czech RepublicIf you’re looking to leave your “tag” in Prague, the John Lennon wall is probably the best place to do it. The mural-turned-graffiti wall is a gorgeous site to see and makes for some really great selfies too. Wear black to stand out.

PolandEstonia

Warsaw — Krutynia River — Vilnius — Riga — Parnu — Tallinn

Total days: 8 Distance: 1,130 KM Best time to go: From May to July

Highlights

  • Taste traditional Polish food in Warsaw’s Old Town
  • Kayak down the Krutynua River
  • Experience interrogration by retired KGB agents in Vilnius
  • Enjoy traditional drinks and Lativian folk music in Riga
  • Take a romantic stroll along the Sea Wall at Parnu
  • Sing Estonian songs with a choir of 30,000 in Tallinn

Warsaw, Poland

 Supreme Court of PolandWarszawa, PolandSurprise photo opportunity

Olsztyn, Poland

 Marii Curie-SkłodowskiejOlsztyn, Poland#narrowstreet #walk #architecture #history

Vilnius, Lithuania

 Gediminas TowerVilnius, LithuaniaFantastic views, especially at sunset, from the hill above Cathedral Square in Vilnius old town. You can pay to go up the tower when it’s open, but the hilltop is free. The views reward the steep walk up there.

Riga, Lativa

 Āgenskalns free tour RigaRīga, Latvia#free #walkingtour An inspiring walk through the non-touristic areas of Riga with a local guide. Awesome

Soomaa National Park, Parnu, Estonia

 Soomaa.comPärnu maakond, EstoniaCanoe trips on the rivers of Soomaa National Park #estonia #canoe #canoeing #soomaa #kayaking #kayak

Tallinn, Estonia

 Kadriorg PalaceTallinn, EstoniaNice museum in a beautiful palace. Good collection

Old town Tallinn, Estonia

 Von Krahli AedTallinn, EstoniaA beautiful, cosy restaurant in the heart of old town Tallinn. Amazing fresh, local ingredients. Artful and quirky preparations of traditional Estonian fare. This was one of the best meals we had during our year of travel. #fine-dining #food

Montenegro — Slovenia

Bay of Kotor — Dubrovnik — Split — Zadar — Ljubljana

Total days: 7 Distance: 820 KM Best time to go: From May to August

Highlights

  • Relax beside the idyllic Bay of Kotor in Montenegro
  • Enjoy incredible views from Dubrovnik’s City Walls
  • Swim in the Adriatic Sea at Bacvice Beach in Split
  • Explore the waterfalls in Krka National Park
  • Listen to the waves play the Sea Organ at Zadar
  • See a concert in Ljubljana 

Kotor, Montenegro

 Kampana TowerKotor, Montenegro#hiking

Dubrovnik, Croatia

 Dubrovnik City WallsDubrovnik, CroatiaAmazing view of Dubrovnik from the city walls

Split, Croatia

 Park Šuma MarjanSplit, CroatiaFor a breathtaking panorama of Split and the neighboring islands, as well as inland mountain ranges, make the trek up Marjan. A mere ten minutes gets you to your first viewpoint, but keep going. This park is a forest and trail-filled peninsula with ruins, vistas, and beaches, and with nearly no crowds. You could easily spend hours meandering, so bring a snack and make a morning or afternoon out of it! #hiking #croatia #split #sea #europe

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 Kavarna TromostovjeLjubljana, Slovenia#coffee

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 Koseze PondLjubljana, SloveniaAmazing sunset over Koseze pond in Ljubljana, Slovenia. #ljubljana #slovenia #adventureslovenia

I have two kids in elementary school. Here's why it’s the ideal time to travel with them.

Photo by Tim Gouw

Outside of Bad Reichenhall, Germany, my nine-year-old son, Anders, and I climbed a mountain. This wasn’t a stroll around a nature trail; this was a serious 3,000-foot ascent. What started as a steep trail led to cables and metal bridges over sheer rock. We used hands and feet to cross snowfields. And when we reached the top, we were thrilled with our accomplishment. This is not something we could have done a couple years ago.

Traveling with my husband and two boys, now eight and ten years old, means we can do things like climb mountains and visit museums, but we still cuddle up together at night to read or watch movies. In my experience, kids in middle childhood still genuinely like hanging out with their parents, are excited to try new things (most of the time), and are very capable.

We are currently traveling through Europe for a year and Worldschooling Anders and Finn. At these ages they are soaking in the history, culture, and environment of the places we visit. They are old enough to carry a backpack with all of their stuff for a year through customs, on and off trains, and to get to our rented apartments. They have their own ideas, curiosity, opinions, and sense of adventure that enriches travel for all four of us.

Cognitive behaviorists say that decentration is a hallmark of this stage. Our kids should be able to more successfully take another’s point of view and be able to consider more than one dimension simultaneously. This is a handy skill when trying to wrap our heads around how the different cultures we visit operate. We are all forced to take the perspective of someone else, which can only make us better people.

We explored Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions at a hands-on children’s museum in Florence, learned to paint frescos at Palazzo Vecchio, performed most of the 60 experiments at the House of Experiments in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and made friends with locals in Salzburg while playing Pokémon Go! While these outings were ostensibly “for the kids,” my husband and I learned a lot, too.

Even experiences that aren’t specifically for kids, including viewing Botticelli’s Primavera at the Uffizi Gallery and learning about the Third Reich in Munich, deepen when we have the boys with us. I find myself doing more research and gathering more background information for them, which ends up broadening all of our horizons.

And these boys are making me have more fun. We found a high ropes/zipline adventure course outside of Florence, Italy. Without the kids as an excuse to get out and play, my husband and I would have missed out on a really fun day. We wouldn’t have bought sleds to slide down the hill in our backyard in Germany, and we might not have been inspired to jump into the Adriatic Sea in December in Croatia.

I love this age for travel. I’m not carrying anyone or changing diapers, I am having real, interesting conversations, and my kids still want to hug and snuggle first thing in the morning. And it doesn’t hurt that we still get discounted kids tickets at most of the places we visit. More like this: 8 family travel myths debunked

All photos by the author

“We are surviving to death.”

This was what one sharp-witted 26-year old girl from Guantanamo tells me over beers in a cafe on Calle Obispo, a lively street near Habana Vieja.

No one’s starving to death on the streets. If you have a bad leg or a bad heart, the doctor’ll fix you right up at zero cost to you. There are beggars, but it’s not uncommon to spot the same person a few blocks away in a suit, clicking away on his smartphone or ordering a coffee at a hotel cafe. Many pull in more money per day than the doctor who treats him, so the girl tells me.

“I think my stork got lazy and dropped me off in the wrong country,” she continues, ordering another Bucanero. “I shouldn’t have been born here.” She’d moved to Havana a year earlier when her heavy metal rocker boyfriend offered to pay for her travels (though he was still married to his wife). Despite speaking near-fluent English, she can’t work without a proper Havana residence permit, so she spends most of her days in their apartment. They rely on the income her boyfriend pulls in from selling tourist trap trinkets in a marketplace a few blocks away. He is one of the lucky ones. With an average income of $5–10 per day, he makes more than the vast majority of people who survived on ~$20 a month at a government job. This includes doctors, lawyers, and bankers — the people who usually pull in the biggest salaries in most other countries.

“In America, workers are like this,” one casa particular owner said, making a triangle with his hands. “The people who use their brains are at the top while the people who use their muscles are at the bottom. But here it’s the opposite.” He flipped the triangle upside down so that the apex was now on the bottom. “Here in Cuba, the smartest people make the least money and work the longest hours.” His daughter works as a obstetrician and delivered more than 15 babies the night before. This was a regular day. She makes less than 600pesos per month (~24 USD). Yet he said that “doctor” is still one of the most desired jobs among students. “You save lives. Everyone knows you and everyone respects you,” he said, explaining the conflict between wanting a fulfilling job and longing for a more comfortable life. He had worked as a mining engineer until a series of kidney problems forced him to retire. His days became a cycle of eat, sleep, eat, sleep, interspersed with visits from his daughters. He sat on a plastic stool outside his house, watching people walk by.

He said a visit from President Obama and Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb, a year earlier had changed his life.

“We all looked at this young guy who had built his business from scratch and grown his business like crazy in just a few years. Not even 40 years old,” he said, adjusting his Yankees baseball cap. “He said any of us could do it.” With the help of his younger daughter who had picked up some English working as a journalist for a government magazine, he put up his two free rooms on Airbnb and had already started construction on a third floor where he would add another two rooms for rent. He’d made enough money to buy a motorcycle, and he would take his wife on it on weekends to Malecon’s seaside.

For many Cubans, tourism has become the primary escape from a low-paying government job and speaking English is often a gateway into new opportunities. Our biking tour guide, a 22-year old girl from Vinales, told us how she had picked up her English purely through binge-watching American TV shows. “I love Supernatural and Arrow,” she said as we passed by El Palenque, a limestone cave that doubled as a nightclub on weekends. Wifi is expensive (at about $2 per hour), so she and most of her friends use “El Paquete Semanal,” a 1TB collection of digital contents containing new episodes of TV shows, films, books, and other customized options that is updated weekly at a cost of about $1 (~30pesos). She’d been recruited as a tour guide by her boyfriend’s cousin after he’d heard her mimicking a line from Family Guy. Each morning, she walked 20 minutes from her house near one of the tobacco farms into town where she would take phone calls from both English and Spanish-speaking tourists. She’d even mastered horseback riding for the group’s most popular foreigner-focused tours.

When I asked her boss, another fluent English speaker, how he’d had gotten into the touring business, he said he had actually studied engineering in college but could barely pay his bills as an engineer. He left Havana and returned to his small hometown in Vinales where he found a job at a friend’s tour guide company. After a few years, he bought a few used mountain bikes from some visiting foreigners (since it’s still too difficult and expensive to import new bikes into Cuba) and started his own tour company.

“No one needs a programmer. I haven’t coded anything in years, except to make a website for my tour services,” he said, standing barefoot in a walled-in plot of pebbles and bricks: the foundation to a new house. He’d recently hurt his knees on a biking tour, so he’d switched his attention to building his own casa particular. His father, a farmer, had given him a small plot of land but he had no interest in using it for tobacco. “I like designing things, visualizing and organizing. I made the entire blueprint for this house,” he explained proudly, walking us through where the two bedrooms would be, the space between them to limit sound leakage, the cooled hallway to the kitchen and the seating arrangement for breakfast, all along a skeleton of concrete and bricks already laid into the ground. With limited masons and funds, however, he said it would take nearly 4–5 years to complete. It took him nearly 30 minutes by motorcycle just to get to a wifi hotspot so he could answer email inquiries about his tour services, so it was still difficult to scale his business.

Lack of infrastructure was a problem, but limited food/supplies and a looming sense of stagnation were the more troubling issues for most Cubans.

“Why would anyone work hard? They know it won’t get them anywhere,” the girl from Guantanamo says, lighting up a half-crushed H.Upmann cigarette. The only four things she says people could always get in Cuba were cigarettes, sugar, rum, and coffee, the top exports for the country. “If I want apples and the government’s not selling apples now, even if I have the money to buy, there’s no way I can get an apple.” She says the country still largely relied on imported food and because of the US embargo, their options were always limited. Our casa particular owner in Trinidad told us that finding everyday goods like toilet paper and eggs could take days to find in stores, with most products being used for tourists (e.g. at hotels and casas). She used an iPhone 4 that her daughter had sent her from Slovenia because it was impossible to find (or afford) a working smartphone. She apologized for how her sheets, pillow covers, and blankets were all different colors and sizes because it was impossible to buy a full set, so she bought whatever she could find.

The girl from Guantanamo says she owns only one pair of jeans. They cost her 30cucs (~$30), more than a month’s salary for most government workers. Her shoes were 20cucs (~$20). Almost everything was Made in China. The government-operated shops had limited stock, so she and her friends often relied on street vendors, many of whom traveled to nearby countries like Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic to source the latest styles and sold them at a massive mark-up on the black market. She says it’s her dream to own an authentic pair of Manolo or Christian Louboutin shoes. When I ask where she could buy them in Havana, she laughs.

“I don’t even want to think about it. The cost of one pair could feed a whole family for a year.”

Every Cuban I met was proud of four things in their country: free education, free healthcare, overall safety, and a deep respect for family. The fourth often manifested in an almost feminist mindset that I hadn’t expected.

“I have only a handful of friends,” one Cuban man said. He’d worked for the military for more than fifteen years and despite having earned a college degree in communications, he couldn’t find any non-military job outside of hotel security guard and storage warehouse labor. “One of my best friends, a guy I knew since we were kids. I recently found out he had hit his wife. That was the end of our friendship. I thought, how can you hit the person you love? You’re supposed to treasure her, protect her. I just couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t be friends with someone like that.”

I asked him why so many people in Cuba go to college but almost no one goes on to graduate school. He just shook his head and said with a smirk, “It’s a sad story.”

“What do you mean? I love sad stories,” I joked.

His girlfriend snickered, “Why? Because you can get on a plane tomorrow out of here?”

The owner of our Havana casa particular said that many Cubans still tried to swim their way to the US border, hoping to leverage the Wet Foot, Dry Foot Policy. Much of his wife’s family had immigrated to the US during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, some during the massive 1960s Cuban migration. Everyone we met had family in Miami. Most make trips home every year and bring whatever supplies they can. A new phone, a pair of good earphones, or an eyeliner refill. Anything is better than nothing. My tour guide in Vinales said I could probably find a buyer for any of my old electronics in Cuba.

“Do you think things will get better?” I ask the girl from Guantanamo. It’s my last night in Havana, 9 days in and I still have not made sense of the happy-sadness that seems to permeate every person I’ve met.

The cafe has started pulling down its metal shudders so we switch to a small, government-owned bar across the street from Havana’s tiny Chinatown. Several classic American cars, all collective taxis, are lined up on the street, hoping to pick up a few tired stragglers from Centro Habana. The drivers are gathered outside their cars, laughing and arguing baseball. The girl flicks her cigarette stub onto the street. She grins at me like I’ve asked a loaded question.

“We all smile and look happy because we’re hoping, some of us consciously and some unconsciously, that someday, who the fuck knows when, someone will come and save us,” she answers.

This article originally appeared on Medium and is republished here with permission.

Late last year I flew into Paris with a backpack, a rail pass and only a vague inclination of where I’d be heading. Two months, 3,300 miles, several dozen train rides and 23 cities later, I chugged into a dimly lit Belgrade station aboard a train from Montenegro with just one day to spare before my visa expired. I took more than 4,000 photographs over the course of the trip — here are 10 of my favorite. 1

Paris, France

The Parisian summer was brutal. I’d been warned of a lingering heat wave before my arrival, but nothing could prepare me for those 100-degree evenings -- not even a lifetime of South African summers. After an ill-advised afternoon walk through Montmartre, the cool interior of the Sacré-Cœur provided the only respite from the simmering sidewalks outside.

2

Rhone Alps, France

The beautiful canalized town of Annecy, set on the shores of a glistening lake and beneath soaring mountains, did not disappoint me. This photo captures a quiet moment, somewhere high up in the Rhone Alps when I witnessed a father valiantly attempting to fly a kite for his young daughter. That scene will always stand out to me when I think back on this trip.

3

Zermatt, Switzerland

I’d been in Zermatt for three days and had yet to have a clear view of the Matterhorn. The hotel receptionist assured me the famous mountain was hiding somewhere behind the clouds. On my final morning, just minutes before a cross-country train ride, I found a few minutes to sit on the balcony in the cool morning air to wait for this precise moment -- when the Alpine sun turned the iconic peak several shades of orange, before eventually illuminating the sleepy resort town at its base.

Intermission

How to travel the world for free (seriously)

10 perfect Instagram shots of Paris

Solo travel in Myanmar: My experience in 15 beautiful images

4

Lucerne, Switzerland

Golden hour in Switzerland is unlike golden hour anywhere else in the world. These swans, sailing quietly beneath the famous covered bridge, seemed to appreciate it just as much as the greedy photographers lapping up Lucerne’s last light.

5

Bohinj, Slovenia

The footpath surrounding Lake Bohinj was eerily quiet. Save for the occasional whoops from paragliders above, the only other constant sound audible from beneath the trees was the quiet whooshing of canoe paddles cutting through the shimmering surface.

6

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Unless you’re aware that the heart of Ljubljana is totally car free, it’s quite possible you’ll stand in this location, atop one of the famous three bridges, wondering just how the middle of a European capital city could be so peaceful.

7

Rovinj, Croatia

I’d been tipped off about the best sunset spot in Rovinj earlier that day. When I made my way down to the water’s edge the sky was already starting to shift shades, but it was as the sun slipped beneath the last of the clouds that an explosion of color had me conflicted between reaching for my camera, and putting it away to absorb the spectacle that was unfolding before me.

8

Split, Croatia

I followed the sound of harmonizing male voices from a bustling Split courtyard beside the Cathedral of Saint Domnius. I soon found the source of the singing in the acoustically perfect Vestibule and stood there enraptured. It was only by good fortune that I decided to look up, which was when I noticed the bell tower of the cathedral peering back down at me.

9

Fort Vrmac, Montenegro

I reached Fort Vrmac after a steep two-hour hike and peered through the iron bars of the abandoned Austro-Hungarian military base. A persistent drip echoed deep in the darkness, and my heart beat a bit faster. No good story comes from almost doing something, so I found an open window, powered up the torch on my cell phone, and stepped gingerly into the abandoned building. I found this room somewhere on the second floor.

10

Somewhere between Bar, Montenegro and Belgrade, Serbia

The rickety old train had been chugging inland for several hours up to a terrifying height on the side of a sheer Montenegrin cliff when the landscape burst to life. I stepped over the outstretched legs of my fellow travelers and made my way to the window. I pushed it down and stood there with my face in the cool autumn wind alternating between soaking up the experience and trying, usually in vain, to capture in photographs what was without a doubt the most dramatic railroad experience of my life.

Rick Steves Croatia & Slovenia

Rick Steves

You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling to Croatia and Slovenia.With this guide, you'll explore charming towns and undiscovered natural wonders. Stroll atop the walls that encircle romantic Dubrovnik, wander through the Roman ruins in the heart of bustling Split, and set sail to the islands of Korcula and Hvar on the glimmering Adriatic. Feel the spray from the waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park. Drive mountain passes in Slovenia's idyllic Julian Alps. And take side-trips to Montenegro's dramatic Bay of Kotor and the Turkish-flavored city of Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina.Rick's candid, humorous advice will guide you to good-value hotels and restaurants. He'll help you plan where to go and what to see, depending on the length of your trip. You'll get up-to-date recommendations on what's worth your time and money. More than just reviews and directions, a Rick Steves guidebook is a tour guide in your pocket.

Lonely Planet Slovenia (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Slovenia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Stroll the leafy streets of Ljubljana, dive into the great outdoors at Lake Bled or sip some of the world's best Merlot in Vipava; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Slovenia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Slovenia Travel Guide:

Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, art, literature, cinema, music, architecture, politics, sport, cuisine, wine, customs Over 30 maps Covers LjubljanaSkofja Loka, Lake Bled, Bohinj, Kranjska Gora, Triglav National Park, Soca Valley, Vipava Valley, LipicaPiranPostojna,  Rogaska Slatina, Prekmurje and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Slovenia , our most comprehensive guide to Slovenia, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Eastern Europe, Central Europe or Mediterranean Europe guide.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Slovenia

DK

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photography, and illustrations of any guide.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Slovenia is your in-depth guide to the very best of Slovenia.

Enjoy all that Slovenia has to offer with our DK Eyewitness Travel Guide. Experience the tranquility and beauty of Slovenia, including the peaks of the Alps, the gorgeous Adriatic coastline, and the country's wonderful forests. Get active and enjoy skiing, snowboarding, caving, kayaking, rafting, or hiking, or relax and discover Slovenia's best restaurants and cafes. Our Eyewitness Travel Guide has recommendations for hotels at any budget, plus fun trips for children and families.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Slovenia

Detailed itineraries and "don't miss" destination highlights at a glance. Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights. Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums. Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area. Area maps marked with sights. Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights. Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Slovenia truly shows you this country as no one else can.

Slovenia - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Jason Blake

Slovenia seems closer to Austria or Italy than to its Balkan neighbors. The richest of the Slavic nation-states, it has an entirely Western tradition, having belonged in the past to the Roman Empire, the Frankish kingdom, the Holy Roman Empire, the Republic of Venice, the Habsburg monarchy, and the First French Empire. After the Second World War it became part of the Republic of Yugoslavia, before declaring independence in 1991. This extraordinary cultural legacy is what sets Slovenia apart, matched by an amazingly varied topography packed into a small area. Traveling toward the coast, you see changes in the landscape and in the architecture. This reflects both the natural and the historical variety: the Venetians built their buildings one way, the Austrians another. Slovenia’s natural beauty is astonishing. Legend relates that when God was allotting nature’s bounty, he forgot Slovenia. His last-minute solution was to take bits of the best from other places: gorgeous Alpine ranges, the less craggy Pohorje mountains, the Pannonian plain stretching toward Hungary, hill after hill rolling southward into the horizon, the unique karst landscape, rivers aplenty, and a few miles of Adriatic coastline. Never having had a glorious unified kingdom in the past, Slovenians identify themselves not by blood or history but by their language, which differs from the other languages of the ex-Yugoslavia. The older generation is fluent in Serbo-Croatian, which helps for politics and trade, but has little of its historical baggage, and the country has geo-political importance as a politically stable stepping stone to the Balkans. As far as nationhood goes, Slovenia’s golden age is now. There is a sense of change in the country—mostly for the better, and not the dull stampede toward materialism that one sees in some other former Eastern bloc countries. As a tourist destination Slovenia has it all, from medieval ruined monasteries to whitewater rafting. The people of this lovely land are genuinely glad that others are “discovering” their country. There are no real language problems; the younger people all speak English. Moreover, membership of the EU means that this is a country in transition. Culture Smart! Slovenia will introduce you to the inner world of this moderate, orderly, and conservative people who have emerged into the post-Communist world hungry for change.

Slovenia & Croatian coast Travel Reference Map 1:225K/1:325K

ITMB Publishing LTD

We have visited Slovenia several times and find it to be an interesting and scenic part of Europe with modern and well-maintained hotels, restaurants and roads, with prices being much more affordable than in neighbouring countries to the west. As the country is not particularly large, we have limited our country coverage to one side of the sheet, with a detailed inset map of Ljubljana. The other side is a lovely map of the Dalmatian Coast. Now that Croatia is part of the EU, border limitations with the rest of western Europe have been removed and driving from Italy or Slovenia southward towards Dubrovnik is easy. The map shows the Pula Peninsula, the coastal islands of Cres, Brac, and Havar, and resort communities such as Zadar, Split, and medieval Dubrovnik. The new coastal motorway is mostly complete, but political difficulties are forcing an expensive tunneling project to by-pass part of Bosnia. Once completed, the highway will stretch to the Montenegrin border and become a major truck route from Turkey to Europe.

Slovenia (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

National Geographic's Slovenia Adventure Map is designed to meet the unique needs of adventure travelers with its detailed and accurate information. This map includes thousands of cities and towns with an index for easily locating them, plus a clearly marked road network complete with distances and designations for highways, major roadways, scenic routes, and more. Transportation within and beyond the country is also made easier with the locations of airports, airfields, railroads, ferry routes, and border crossings. Myriad points of interest are noted including national parks, museums, castles, archeological sites, churches, and more.

Slovenia’s western half is shown on the front side of the print map including the cities of KranjLjubljanaNova GoricaPostojna, Litija, and Kocevj. The reverse side of the map covers the eastern portion of the country, and shows the cities of VelenjeCelje, Novo Mesto, CrnomeljMariborMurska SobotaPtujSlovenska Bistrica, and Brezice.

Once a founding member of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Slovenia declared its full sovereignty in 1991 and is now the richest Slavic nation in the European Union. It is the third most forested country in Europe and over a third of the area is protected. Its picturesque mountain ranges are popular with hikers and skiers while some of its most unique attractions include over 9,000 karst caves, thermal spas, the world’s oldest grapevine, and a large number of casinos. One of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Slovenia offers travelers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy breathtaking natural wonders and a wide variety of diverse experiences in a relatively small region.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:205,000Sheet Size = 25.5" x 37.75"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

The Julian Alps of Slovenia: Mountain Walks and Short Treks

Justi Carey

This book contains around 50 walks which bring the best of the Julian Alps to the English-speaking walker. The walks are based around five bases - Kranjska GoraBovecKobaridBled and Bohinj - all of which have a range of accommodation and public transport facilities. There is something here for everyone - from easy valley walks and rougher forest trails to high mountain protected routes, some of which require Alpine mountaineering experience. Several possibilities for multi-day walks are included. The Julian Alps are situated in the small independent republic of Slovenia, at the south-eastern end of the Alpine chain. Their highest peak, Triglav, at 2864m, may be smaller than some of the better-known western giants, but what they lack in stature they make up for in interest and accessibility. The dramatic limestone peaks drop steeply through forests to flower meadows, and will give you a feast for the eyes no matter which direction you turn.

Ljubljana 25 Secrets - The Locals Travel Guide For Your Trip to Ljubljana (Slovenia): Skip the tourist traps and explore like a local : Where to Go, Eat & Party in Ljubljana (Slovenia)

55 Secrets

25 Secrets you’d never find out about Ljubljana!Welcome to the most Complete Ljubljana Travel Guide for Tourists made by locals! Here Is a Preview of What You'll Learn Inside...♥25 Unique activities to do when you are in town♥Best places to eat in town♥Best local Markets♥Best Parks and Good Views♥Best Museums♥Best Bars ♥Best things to do in Ljubljana - Slovenia♥ Much, much more!* * *FREE GIFT INSIDE * * * If you are heading to the wonderful city of Ljubljana anytime soon this book will give you an insight of the best places and most unique places to see where you will mingle with the locals and get to see and do the activities as one of them.We have prepared a unique BUCKET LIST with the 25 most unique experiences you can have in Ljubljana  Most people don't even take the time to prepare themselves in advance, and just wish for the best once they have arrived! Most people aren't aware of some of the most amazing places Ljubljana can offer... And it'd be such a pity to miss them! That's precisely why we desperately need the RIGHT travel guide first. Don’t arrive to Ljubljana (Slovenia) and follow the crowds of Tourists. With this exclusive travel guide made by locals you will be finding about the places that don’t come on Lonely Planet’s or are listed on Trip Advisor where thousands of tourists head daily. It took lots of time to incorporate the tips and hacks that ended up shaping this travel guide! And now, we are willing to share those secrets with you! We will tell you where you should go, eat, sleep, and of course, party! We know you won't just settle for average boring travel guides! We know you are looking for something better; something unique that will truly help you down the road: a book with real life tips, recommendations, useful travel hacks and data... everything you may need in your trip. You've just found what you were looking for! Our goal is simple. we will give you a complete and detailed Bucket list with MAPS to all the locations to make sure you won’t get lost in the amazing city of Ljubljana transforming your trip into absolutely amazing experience. We will help you simplify your path, showing you exactly where the best places are. ♥ Download Your Copy Right Now! ♥Just Scroll to the top of the page and select the Buy Button. TAGS: travel, travel guides Ljubljana, adventure in Ljubljana, trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia, Ljubljana hotels, Ljubljana market, Slovenia guide, holidays in Ljubljana, day trip to LjubljanaLjubljana Slovenia, things to do in LjubljanaLjubljana map, Ljubljana lonely planet

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Violent crime is rare. Pickpocketing and purse snatching occur, especially in crowded areas and on trains. Avoid poorly lit areas and down-market bars.

Demonstrations and strikes

Demonstrations occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media. Labour strikes may interfere with public transport and cause lengthy delays at border crossings.

Road travel

Main roads are generally safe and in good condition. Secondary roads tend to be narrow.

Public transportation

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General safety information

Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash.

Emergency services

Dial 113 for police, 112 for emergency assistance and firefighters.

Members of the automobile association of Slovenia (AMZS) can dial 1987 for emergency roadside assistance and information.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to tick bites (e.g., those spending time outdoors in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Southern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Southern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Satisfactory medical care is available.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Canada and Slovenia are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Slovenia to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Slovene authorities.

Identification

You should always carry your passport and keep a photocopy in case of loss or seizure.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Driving laws

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device. Radar-detection systems are also prohibited.

A reflective vest and a warning triangle are mandatory in all vehicles. Snow tires or snow chains are mandatory from November 15 to March 15.

Cars, vans and motorcycles not exceeding 3,500 kg maximum laden weight require a vignette (toll sticker) to drive on all major Slovenian highways and the Ljubljana bypass. Vignettes can be purchased at gas stations, post offices and newspaper stands.

Penalties for traffic offences and jaywalking are strict. Offenders can expect heavy fines. Police can collect on-the-spot traffic fines from non-residents and retain travellers’ passports until payment is made.

Customs

Certain items, such as firearms, antiquities and business equipment, are subject to strict customs regulations. Contact the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Money

The currency of Slovenia is the euro (EUR).

Credit cards and traveller’s cheques in U.S. dollars and euros are widely accepted. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available in cities and towns, but not readily available in the mountain regions or in small villages.

When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000, or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.

Climate

Slovenia is located in an active seismic zone.

The weather in mountainous areas can be unpredictable. If you are planning a mountaineering or skiing holiday, consult the Slovenian Official Travel Guide website for information on weather and safety conditions, and follow advice carefully.