After this summer’s World Cup Soccer epic game between the USA and Slovenija (I use the Slovenijan spelling) and Slovenijan Tina Maze’s duels with American Lindsey Vonn, I feel that my home country of the USA and Slovenija have a special sporting bond. It’s not fair that we have 305,000,000 more people than Slovenija. The tiny 2.1 million Slovenijans, however, are like most of the ex-Yugoslavian countries and have more than their fair share of great athletes.
I really like Slovenija. It is a strange mix of the Alps and Balkans. The scenery looks much like Austria, but the Slovenijans are more outgoing and Slavic like Serbia. The country was never an independent nation. It always was under the operation of a larger power. Most recently, it was a part of Yugoslavia, which makes sense in that they are Slavic with a Slavonic language. It was always one of the richest parts of Yugoslavia and they resented supporting financially some of the poorer areas of the federation. Before that, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and under the control of the Hapsburgs. This made sense because it bordered on Austria and has the same topography and Alpine lifestyle.
The Slovenijans I spoke with were very happy to be independent and would not change it. One of the women at the desk was extremely bright and interesting to talk to. She talked of the lack of economic opportunities in the rural areas and young people move to the capital Ljubljana. The ski resort we visited is located in the Triglav National Park. Triglav means “three heads” which refers to the three peaks. These mountain peaks are featured on the Slovene flag. There are lots of forests and parks in the country and it is one of my favorite spots in the former Yugoslavia. It was also interesting to hear that World Champion skiier, Tina Maze is arrogant.
Below is a picture of a stog which you see all over the Alps. I was wondering what they were and found out they are for drying hay in the spring. They are only used on small farms and it is a traditional way of doing it. The hay is supposed to be better and the milk and cows taste better from the small farms due to this hay. Some are double latticed, and young people are making cabins on top and converting them into a weekend home.
We will definitely be back this spring to do some mountain biking and tennis. The Alps are gorgeous and I do not get tired of them. It is also nice that Slovenija is only a few hours drive from Belgrade. We last visited in December of 2008 and you can read my blog post from then.