We started the second chapter of our Balkan Peninsula by Thumb trip when we crossed the Italian-Slovenian Border a week ago. After visiting the highlights of European culture, fighting for a fair price and attempting to pick up some Italian, we thought ourselves ready to try and conquer a new land.
Hitch-hiking in Italy wasn’t difficult and we managed to travel all the way from Rome to Trieste (680 km) for free. Now in Slovenia, hitch-hiking became even easier.
The country and distances
The first reason for this is that the country is tiny and everything is really close. We were given a good example: if you live in Ljubljana, in May you can go skiing in the morning, as it only takes about 40 min to drive to the Alps, and in the evening you can go for a swim in the warm Adriatic sea in Koper, which is only 100 km away! Ljubljana itself is also a miniature of a capital city: you can cross the whole (!) Old Town district in 15 min without rushing.
There are only 2 million Slovenians, so we figured that if you are an adult who travels round the country at least from time to time ,you must have seen a fair percentage of all your countrymen.
When we hitch-hike, we normally get up in the morning, hit the road and arrive at our destinations without diverting or visiting anything in the way, as it can be really time-consuming. However, in Slovenia it’s possible to hitch-hike and do a bit of sightseeing at the same time, as all their towns are so miniature that in most cases you wouldn’t need more than an hour to see each of them!
Like this we have visited a cute Medieval little hill town called Škofja Loka, whic literally means “Bishop’s Meadow”.
Before entering Slovenia I had never heard Slovenian language but hoped that, since it belongs to the same group as Polish, I would be able to understand something. I soon realised that when written down it’s quite similar and we share many words, but if spoken it’s completely incomprehensible to me. Moreover there are around 50 different dialects of Slovene itself, which can be so distinct that even natives from different regions might have problems understanding each other!
It hasn’t posed any problems to us, however, as the majority of Slovenians speak really good English (not to mention German and some of them even speak Italian). Depending on which border they live close to, they were either taught German if they come from the north; Italian, if they come from the west; and English, if they live in the central or eastern part of the country. Apart from that, they never dub films on TV, so they experience the same kind of natural immersion through television as the Dutch and the Scandinavians, whose language abilities are extraordinary and famous round the world.
And as many Slovenians have told us: if you come from a small, insignificant country like this, you just have to learn other languages.
Although our lack of Slovene wasn’t a problem, we decided to try and learn something about their language. What I found the most fascinating is that in Slovene there are three types of grammatical numbers: singular, plural and what is unique – dual. In most languages you can express that either you do something on your own (using the pronoun I ) or you do something as a part of a larger group (using we). In Slovene, however, there is a third way of expressing that you do something as a couple (using e.g. midva which would be “the two of us”). Isn’t that a romantic concept?
As I learnt, the dual number existed in Proto-Indo-European and some of its decendants like Sanskrit or the Ancient Greek. There is only a handful of modern European languages which still maintain this form: Scotish Gaelic, Frisian and Slovene.
Morover, we’ve learnt some really hilarious swearwords and cursing expressions in Slovene:
Krščen Matiček! – Baptised Matthew!
Gromska strela! – Thunderbolt!
Tristo kosmatih! – Three Hundred Hairymen!
Ta usran zazidan! – This shitty bricked-in guy!
The third reason why hitch-hiking in Slovenia is childishly easy is that Slovenians are extremely nice people. We have many Italian friends so we don’t want to generalise, but while travelling in Italy we encountered a lot of rudeness, especially from those who you’d have least expected it from (like the tourist information office workers, people in bars, cafes etc.). In Slovenia that doesn’t happen. Here everyone is extremely nice and people went out of their way to help us or drive us somewhere even if initially they hadn’t been going there!
I’m really happy we have come here to discover this beautiful pocket-sized country with interesting and welcoming people. The only minor inconvenience is that you can’t buy alcohol after 9.p.m. !
Our route in Slovenia
written by: Ania
Follow our 2 month hitch-hiking trip across the north of Italy and the Balkan Peninsula:‘The Balkan Peninsula by Thumb 2013′. It’s happening now!
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