Ljubljana felt like the village capital of Europe. It is so tiny and sweet, yet so deliciously cultural. Slovenia only achieved its long-deserved recognition as a sovereign state after its break from Yugoslavia, but its history dates as long as its neighbours. It is the great place to get a primer on the Balkans, Yugoslavia and the ensuing war. Thankfully, the tiny capital escaped with barely a 6-day war.
2. Lake Bled
Most people will hear about Lake Bled before they even knew about Slovenia. It is certainly well-capitalised, and worth a landing on the island just for the bragging rights. The island is straight out of a fairy tale book, and comes with a mean gelato stand.
3. Lake Bohinj
Took a short hike through the shores of Lake Bohinj, where one could partake in all kinds of adrenaline-inducing activities. Missed the rafting though.
Spent but a moment in the vibrant city of Koper, which was so close to Italy, that it really looked like we are in a completely different place. Despite that, the people are proudly Slovenian, and proclaim parts of the Italian coastal towns as rightfully Slovenian.
This obscure church kept perhaps the best-preserved copy of the Dance of Death, once banned for showing equality among all men.
Spent a bit of time touring around the colourful coastal town of Piran, a relatively busy tourist spot in Slovenia. It fitted all my initial impressions of the Balkans, the coast and all. As a bonus, Piran comes with its own salt fields, which, to this day, is being processed the traditional way. Piran is a worth a spot on anyone's bucket list of the Balkans.
7. Vintgar Gorge
Close to Lake Bled is Slovenia's most famous gorge. There are hundreds of similar gorges throughout the small nation, but this is perhaps the most developed, considering its small distance to Lake Bled.
8. Postojna Caves
Very touristy from the moment you join the hoards of tourists into the structured paths of the caves. Saw the longest trams I have ever seen, enough to accommodate hundreds. It was unsurprising that the crew had great difficulty controlling the crowd. Still, none of the noise or the crowd could diminish the wonder that was the caves. Worth a half day visit.
9. Predjama Castle
Unless you on a self-guided driving trip, you'd likely end up on a trip that combines both the Predjama Castle and the Postojna Caves. They are very near each other, and you'll learn interesting facts about its occupants as you are guided through the rooms. And oh, Jackie Chan filmed a movie here!
10. Lipica Stud Farm
True home of the Lipizzaners of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. I did not quite enjoyed the show like I thought I would. Went there with ultra-high expectations, thinking that these famous horses could do acrobatics. They did impressed me, but I guess I am not really into animal 'shows'. The guided tour to the stables were very good though. You could tell the people working there were really passionate about their horses.
11. Škocjan Caves
Being here felt like Lord of the Rings. The caves were magnificent, stretching above you so high that you are left in wonder as you realise that it took millions of years to form. Left untouched and carved by the forces of nature was one of the largest karst network discovered.
(a) Which place was most memorable? Škocjan Caves
(b) Which place would I return to? Ljubljana
(c) What about their culture did I like most? Everyone was so kind, and speaks really good English, even the old people
(d) Best food? Cake in Ljubljana
(e) Where did I regret not spending more time? Piran
(f) Where else will I go to the next time I'm there? Maribor and Ptuj
(g) What was my best buy there? Cake