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PEARL OF THE BALKANS
Cultivating a relaxed, pleasurable lifestyle in its cities and rural areas alike, Slovenia lives up to its nickname as the “Switzerland of the Balkans.” Its capital Ljubljana is an oasis of peace, harmoniously blending medieval architecture with the works of Joze Plecnik, an influential architect of the 1930s. This is a city made for strolling. Under the weeping willows along the Ljubljanica River, the outdoor cafés do a flourishing business. The burbling of fountains creates a romantic atmosphere on the narrow streets. In the central market in Vodnik Square, shoppers zigzag among stands offering countless varieties of cabbage and tomatoes —
- including the prized beefsteak tomato, hand-picked by market gardeners from the Trnovo district, where many of the city’s vegetables are grown. Indeed, in Slovenia nature is never far away. Visible in clear weather throughout the country, Mount Triglav is the highest point in the Julian Alps, standing in the middle of a nature park replete with marvels: from Lake Bohinj to the Tolmin Gorges, there’s a scenic excursion at every turn.
Downstream, the rivers pass by apple orchards and villages adorned with Catholic chapels. In the lovely, colorful town of Idrija, traditions are kept alive, like the age-old art of lacemaking, now taught in school to girls and boys alike for two hours every week.