While I was working in Croatia, counselors at the camp were allowed to volunteer to pick up kids in various border countries via bus. I had never even thought about Eastern Europe and all that it had to offer, but I quickly signed up to help out with the bus to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I had no clue what was in this city or if it was even remotely exciting, but I knew I wanted to check more of Eastern Europe off my list. So I saddled up with my 20 campers and ended up smack dab in the middle of Slovenia.
First of all, the ride into Slovenia was literally breathtaking. There were pristine lakes, various tiny villages, gothic churches, huge castles, and about a million green pastures. They are not kidding when they say Slovenia looks like a fairy tale – I seriously felt like I was in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!
After dropping off my kiddos at the bus station and making sure they all found their VERY European parents, I was dropped off at my hotel. The best part about this trip was that my camp paid for my hotel AND my food! The huge bus literally dropped me right off at the hotel and told me they’d be back to pick me up in the morning. Talk about perks of being a camp counselor!
Since I had absolutely no knowledge of how the Slovenian language works, I got lost on the bus to the city. The bus driver seriously had to kick me off the bus and tell me to walk two blocks. He was also not amused when I tried to pay him…. Just follow the rules everyone!! And be more directionally aware than I was! Luckily it was easy to find the center of the city from the bus stop.
I quickly found a street with colorful streamers everywhere that had a bunch of shops and seriously RAN into Zara. If you know me, you know I am deeply addicted to Zara. I have probably stopped at a Zara in every single country I have been to, which is saying something. This Zara was very cheap, so I bought myself a nice embroidered leather skirt and then hopped over to a bookstore, where I bought a very large book on the Russian Romanov Dynasty. Then I just wandered all over the place!
I stumbled upon the city’s main square, where there was a bright pink church, a canal, and a huge bridge with locks on it. This bridge led to the famous Dragon Bridge, which is this tiny bridge with huge dragons guarding it. I ate pizza right next to the bridge and got simultaneously hit on by a 40-year-old waiter who tried to show me the city. I politely refused, boxed up my pizza, and ran away as fast as I could.
I actually ended up in another part of the city where I found signs that said ‘Castle Gondolas This Way.’ I could vaguely see a fortress type – building at the top of a mountain, so I decided to give it a go with the gondolas.
Somehow I missed the turn for the dang gondolas and ended up hiking the ENTIRE Mountain to get to this castle. It felt like I hiked up that thing for at least 2 hours! It was truly horrendous, but the view of the city was totally worth it and the castle was amazing. Plus, it was free!! Go Slovenia.
I then hiked back down the mountain – which was much easier – and headed back to my hotel for the night, where I watched Slovenian movies with subtitles in a very nice bed. Camp California seriously treated me well!
The next day, I was up bright and early to hop back on the bus and pick up some new kids. It was such a fun way to experience a new part of Europe and gave me a newfound respect for the Slovenians at our camp. I can’t recommend Slovenia enough!