Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Have a hot chocolate on me!
Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

It’s April!

Omigosh!

Now just because it’s April, doesn’t mean that it isn’t going to snow!

In Europe, we’re getting all kinds of weather.

One minute it’s a sunny Spring morning.

The next, it’s freezing!

In fact, as I write this piece, it’s snowing.

Again!

Winter in Berlin. Again!
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – March 2018

Where have you been?

Ah well!

If you’re just joining, here’s really what you missed:

JANUARY:

Don’t even think of asking me!

FEBRUARY:

Hamburg: An Introduction to a Port City!

MARCH:

Ryanair – A no-frills budget airline. Is it worth the plunge?

Wow!

How to get German citizenship if you’re British – How to be a German via Double Nationality!

What an exciting first quarter of the year I’ve had!

As you know, The British Berliner is not only a British – German in name, but on paper too.

Yep! Victoria now has Dual Nationality.

Yay!

I’ve written a fantastic post (even if I say so myself) on what you need to do if you’re British, and looking to obtain EU nationality too.

I’m still British of course, but I’m German too.

And isn’t that something!

The Tall Young Gentleman and the Boy Scouts of America – Troop 46 – Berlin. Having German, British, American & French dual citizenships / double nationalities, works just fine!

One of the merits of living in Germany, is the ease in which one can travel through the Continent.

My favourite mode of travel is by train, and sometimes even by coach-bus.

And one of those ways is by flying!

Myself looking glum at the airport. Leaving Vienna!
Photograph ©Frank Böster

Every January, The Tall Young Gentleman and I, spend some quality time together either visiting some dubious destination, or skiing!

This time around, I decided to take him to Bruges.

In Belgium.

But did I tell you that I flew there.

Via a budget airline.

And not just any airline mind you.

But Ryanair!

Gulp!

BELGIUM!

At the Atomium in Brussels – Belgium

Right!

Where to start?

Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!

It is bordered between Germany, Holland, France and Luxembourg.

It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!

Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!

The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!

Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.

The European Union – otherwise known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving now, twenty-seven (27) European countries!

Belgium is a most important nation as it’s one of the six (6) founding countries of the European Union (EU), hosts the official seats of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, as well as a seat of the European Parliament in the country’s capital, Brussels.

Belgium is also a founding member of the Eurozone, NATO, OECD, and WTO, a part of the trilateral Benelux Union and the Schengen Area.

Belgium has had trouble with terrorism in the last few years, as have many other European countries, but it’s a developed country, with an advanced high-income economy, very high standards of living, friendly locals, interesting food, and is relatively safe and peaceful!

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY…

The Gravensteen medieval castle in Ghent – Belgium

Belgium was a Roman province known as Gallia Belgica and was a prosperous centre of business, commerce, trade and culture from the Middle Ages, right up to the 17th century. During this period, Belgium became prosperous, and participated in the colonization of the African continent.

During the Belgian Revolution in 1830, Belgium spilt away from Holland, and became independent in its own right. However, Belgium also became the “Battlefield of Europe, ” was occupied by Germany in WWI and WWII, as well as 20th century tensions between the Dutch and French-speaking parts of Belgium, leading to a sort of federal state, controversial language laws, and a distinct type of separatism around the Flemish region.

Having said that, Belgium has seen the flourishing of major artistic movements that have had great influence on European art and culture, with architecture and paintings being especially astounding, and historically relevant.

One of those places is Bruges.

BRUGES

Sunday morning in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of  West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!

Bruges has a mass of roughly 13,840 hectares and 1,075 hectares off the coast, at Zeebrugge, otherwise known as Brugge aan zee or “Bruges by the Sea.”

It has a population of 117,073, of which about 20,000 people live in the city centre.

The beautiful historic city centre is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and is roughly 430 hectares in size.

Bruges was first mentioned as Bruggas, Brvggas, and Brvccia (in 840–875), then as Bruciam, Bruociam (in 892), Brutgis uico (at the end of the 9th century), Bruggensi (1010), Bruggis (1012), Bricge (1037, in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), Brugensis (1046), Brycge (1049–1052), Brugias (1072), Bruges (1080–1085), Bruggas (1084), Brugis (1089), and Brugge (1116)!

Bruges is derived from the Old Dutch word for bridge – brugga. But some experts say it could also be from Middle Dutch – brucge, brugge, brugghe, brigghe, bregghe, brogghe, Southern Dutch –  brugghe. Perhaps even from the Anglo-Saxon word –  brugjō – which later became known as the word bridge!

One of the many bridges that you can find in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner

WHY BRUGES?

Bruges is a city that has a river running through it!
Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Because I love to spend all my time rambling!

You know how much I love strolling along cobbled stones of yore, and poking my nose into every nook and cranny.

Belgium does that for you.

Bruges is also a city that has a river running through it ‘cos my love for waterside destinations, and rivers, brooks and lakes, is well known!

Our 4-star hotel – Martin_s Relais – Oud Huis Amsterdam in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Along with a few other canal-based northern cities, such as Amsterdam, Bruges is sometimes referred to as The Venice of the North.

Our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais was right next to the canal. In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!

Without the seedy bits!

Outside the Groeningemusem Brugge in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

I take visiting museums quite seriously, and was delighted to be able to work in partnership with Musea Brugge, who very kindly gave us complimentary museum passes.

Thank you so much!

So without further ado, here are the museums and galleries that I recommend:

  • The Groeningemuseum: We both absolutely loved this museum of 16th century Flemish paintings. In fact, it was one of our favourites!
  • The Arenthuis: We only had time to sprint through the collections of prints and drawings, but if you have a ticket for the Groeningemuseum, you can visit the Arenthuis for free!
  • The Friet Museum / Fries Museum: We very much enjoyed discovering and learning all about the history of the Belgian chip. As well as sampling it too!
  • The Belfort: The Belfry Tower is over 83 metres tall and will give you fantastic views over the city
  • The Hisotrium Brugge: An interactive virtual reality tour of medieval Bruges. We didn’t have enough time to do this. It’s a bit pricey, but kids will love it!
  • The Choco-Story / Chocolate Museum : I don’t like chocolate, but I was almost tempted to go on a Choco-Story tour of Bruges. Almost, but not quite! However, if you’re a fan of chocolate, don’t let me stop you!
  • The Stadhuis / City Hall: The Bruges’ City Hall is one of the oldest in the country and has been around for more than 600 years!
  • The Volkskundemuseum / Museum of Folk Life: This museum has a collection of eight (8) 17th century buildings depicting the way Flemish people used to live, as well as a collection of puppets. I really wanted to visit this museum as I love museums of ethnology, but I forgot!
  • The Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Ter-Potterie (O.L.V.-Ter-Potterie) / Our Lady of the Pottery: This museum is a baroque church as well as a historical hospital dating back from the 13th – 17th century! If you’re into exquisite silver collections, tapestries and stained-glass windows, then this is the place for you!

OTHER MUSEUMS & GALLERIES:

Sint-Janshospitaal / Saint John’s Hospital in Bruges – Belgium

Having said that, most of the Bruges museum collection is interesting, historical, and at the same time, perfectly contemporary!

Bruges is a city of history and culture, and since I like Old Art and architectural treasures very much my type of city.

I know!

Laters!

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO BRUGES. IN BELGIUM!

Victoria in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

This article isn’t sponsored, and even though we received complimentary museum passes from Musea Brugge, absolutely all opinions, and the great time that we had, are my very own!

I went to Belgium. Find out more, next week!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!

In a few weeks, I’ll be on the road again to my 65th country and a new destination.

Can you guess which one it’ll be?

If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re going to miss all the fun!

April is going to be blooming!

See you next week!

Belgian chocolates in Bruges – Belgium
©Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner – Bruges – Jan 2018

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium!

Have you ever been to Belgium? Would you go to Bruges? Let me know in your comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

It’s 2018 and it’s January.

At the beginning of every new year, it’s the norm to think about what you did last year, and what you’re going to do this year.

Last year, I travelled to 8 counties.

8 wonderful countries!

However did I do that?

Have you ever been to Split in Croatia – Bring out the dragons!

I’m not a multi-millionaire. Neither is my husband!

I didn’t win the lottery.

I didn’t quit my job.

I didn’t change my lifestyle.

I didn’t throw my one and only child into boarding school.

I didn’t re-locate to a warmer (cheaper) climate.

I didn’t sell my stuff!

The Tall Young Gentleman & The Music Producer, looking very sorry for themselves at Valhalla – Blackpool

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my about me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a corporate job in Berlin, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

What I mean to say is that I live a normal life. Just like you.

I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

I have a full-time job. Just like you.

And by god.

I have a daily budget.

Absolutely.

Just like you.

Book your hotel here!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” taking to the sails in Mardorf.

And yet.

And yet…..

There was something that I did differently that might have been slightly the opposite of you.

I wanted to travel to more destinations last year, and I did.

I wanted to get on that plane and go to Vienna. I wanted to take that train to Amsterdam.

OMG! I was so broke at the beginning of last year but I was desperate to go to Sweden, so I took a long-distance-inter-country-coach-bus, to Stockholm.

From Berlin!

Book your hotel here!

Travel through Europe via FlixBus!

Ha! Ha! Ha!

It was crazy, and I vowed never to do it again.

But only two weeks later, I did exactly the the same thing!

I’m totally mad!

But I did it anyway LOL!

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to do anything drastic if you want to afford a life of travel.

You don’t have to choose between having it all and having nothing at all, and you definitely don’t have to quit your lifestyle!

Book your hotel here!

Myself with ski leaders in Rokytnice nad Jizerou – Czech Republic

I’m living proof of that.

Oh yes, I’ve done my GAP year, and my backpacking era.

I’ve slept in a casino, I’ve been in a hostel where not 1 but 2 complete strangers, were sleeping on my €2 /$3 per night bed!

I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely!

I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the names (thankfully I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times)!

Heck. I even missed my flight to Qatar, and had to go to Korea instead!

I’ve adjusted my travelling style over time according to my circumstances, who I was travelling with, and my mood!

And let me tell you. I’m not 20 anymore so those fleapit hostels, motels, cheap-I-don’t-wanna-know-who-slept-here-previously are definitely now gone!

Yes, I’m going to keep an eye on my hard-working money, but No, I’m no longer going to be sharing a room with 20 people, 10 people or even 5 other people!

Book your hotel here!

Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.
Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.

Nope!

Those days were fun, but they’re over.

Absolutely.

I think!!

In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few in the last couple of years, but we paid that little bit extra for a private room (since my child is a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We’ve also been to fancy hotel resorts and even rented a whole house for two weeks in Bali.

So, how can you have it all?

If you’re under 25 years old, you don’t need it all, and that’s the darn truth!

Book your budget hotel here!

“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.

Get yourself a backpack, work for a couple of months in a local shop, pub, or business.

Take a gap year before university or after university, in the summer, in the winter, or whatever, and whenever, have about €1,000 / $1,000 or £1,000 at the initial stage, and you’re good to go.

I’m not talking about an around-the-world trip here or flight costs, just the old let’s-see-how-far-this-money-will-take me scenario. Grab an old car, grab a few friends, and off you go.

If you’re in Europe, stay on the continent and do a road trip. Ditto the Americas. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.

When it’s over, it’s over!

You come back, buckle down, save up, and then do it again.

Properly!

Book your hotel here!

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

Now for those of you over 25 years old with jobs, families, responsibilities, and crossroads in front of you, do what I do.

I live life to the full, I work hard at my office and on my blog, and I get creative.

Yes, creative.

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so “The Tall Young Gentleman” & I made our own independent walking tour instead!
  • Our son is 15 years old which means I can’t travel in the low season. Just like you.

What do I do?

I book ahead. Far ahead!

In 2012, we went on a 3 week trip to Tuscany. In August!

I know. I know. I forgot it was going to be boiling.

Don’t judge me!

Anyway, I took out a map, pinned the places that we wanted to go to, and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles.

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel in Italy!

Yes, castles!

And the most we paid for our Royal Victoria300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-riverside was €52.00 per day! For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!

We started planning in 2011.

In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Qatar, Indonesia, and Korea. We started planning it in 2012.

In 2015, we went to the Baltic regions of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Actually, we took a ferry to Helsinki, but still! Anyway, we took a bus-coach. The journey took us 26 hours, and we were knackered and exhausted, but we didn’t die!

We started planning it in 2014.

Book your hotel here!

Paella in Spain is just all you need!

In 2016, I went back to Asia, but our family trips were firmly based in Europe. Brexit or not! We went to Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and other parts of Germany.

We started planning it in 2015.

In 2017, all our of family trips were in Europe, regardless of the countless terror acts throughout the continent. We went to expensive Sweden, Austria and England, dependable Holland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, as well as new and exotic parts of Eastern Europe – Croatia and Slovenia.

Book your hotel here!

A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Again, planning started in 2016, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!

So book your hotel sooner, rather than later.

Right here!

You have to take action to get it!!

If you live in Europe, you get a minimum of 24 holidays per year, and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 days. Many get more!

If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I went to India, I went for 4 weeks but on paper, I actually went for 17 working days or 2.5 weeks.

And how did I do this?

Over Easter and May Day weekend!

And depending on the year, if the public holiday is in the middle of the week (like Xmas 2018), you can just take the Thursday and Friday off, and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 11 days off, (including weekends),  but using just 2 days booked off your holiday space!

Boom!!

Taking a taxi in Lisbon.

If you live in Europe, everywhere is so close. Poland is 1.5 hours away from Berlin. Denmark about 4-5 hours. By car.

England is 1.5 hours away by plane. France. Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Greece are about 2 hours. Turkey, Morocco, Egypt about 3-4 hours.

By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, Linda from Expat Eye on Germany travelled all the way from Latvia (not far from Russia) for all of €50!

We did it for even less!

In short, distance isn’t an issue.

You can fly, take the car, train, bus, sail, or even cycle! Europe is great for the bicycle.

If cash is short, camping is available all over Europe, as well as bunkhouses, hostels, and couchsurfing, for absolutely free!

Or book your hostel or apartment here!

Under the waterfall in Yosemite, USA.
Under the waterfall in Yosemite, USA.
  • We’re comfortable.  And we’re middle-class. Just like you.

What do we do?

We save, budget, and plan how much we can reasonably spend.

It took us 2 years and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day.

I went to Korea, but I should have been in Qatar!

We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150 flying around in Asia itself each, rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand, and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali!

We were there for a month.

Book ahead.

Far ahead!

Catching a fish on the Polish Baltic Sea.

And as for Poland, I paid €26 per night for the lovely floor-heated-free-WIFI-on-the Baltic-Sea double room!

If the budget is “reasonable” then book B&B’s, pensions, and small or “budget” hotels.

Book your hotel here!

Between you and me, Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle, are very much a Berlin fit! –
©Alexi Lubomirski

If you’ve got the cash. Go for it.

There are plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!

Cool Britannia!
Cool Britannia!
  • We keep our eyes open and go on various mailing lists. Just like you.

Register with airlines and transport corporations that you like, and as many as you like.

Register with hotel and hostel brands that you like. They always have special deals and discount offers for their members. I once flew to Krakow with Easyjet for free! And why?

Because I was on their mailing list and it was a new destination.

Book your hotel here!

Or simply, sing for your supper. Vienna – the world capital of music, music everywhere!
  • Be creative with flexibility!

We have school and jobs. Just like you.

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible.

If you’re looking for an adventure. Use skycanner and go for “anywhere” within your budget.

Go to Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.

Go to South America instead of North America.

Go to Wales instead of England.

Or not.

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go.

Book your hotel here!

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go – Live a life of style and travel!

If you live in North America, I know that it’s more complicated.

However, if you’ve worked hard, don’t feel guilty. TAKE your holidays and USE them for your own pleasure.

Don’t paint the porch. The porch can wait.

Go to that place that you’ve always wanted to go to.

Do the road trip.

Or fly to Argentina.

Whatever.

Book your hotel here!

If you’re American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that’s alright too!

If you feel more comfortable staying in North America, then stay in North America. North America is an amazing destination and so beautiful.

I’m not here to guilt trip you. It’s your holiday.

If you feel more comfortable, going on a package tour. Go for it.

If you feel more comfortable travelling with the whole family. It’s your call.

Book your hotel here!

Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
  • Don’t forget to ask. We love a bargain. Just like you.

Ask for discounts.

Ask for a bigger room.

Ask for an included breakfast.

Ask for WIFI.

Ask for an extra bed.

Ask for free parking.

Ask about children prices, student prices, senior citizen / retiree prices, corporate prices, even regional or local prices.

If you’re from “there” let them know. You never know. If you don’t ask, they can’t help you, or reduce the prices.

Ask, and ask again.

It doesn’t matter if it’s “only” 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 days. Just know that you can afford to travel.

You can have it all.

Book your hotel here!

Don’t even think of asking me!

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2018?

Drum roll pleeeeease!

Travel plans this year are:

Romania

Romania

Belgium

Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Czech Republic

Norway

Norway

Poland

India

India

And of course, Germany! Ho! Ho! Ho!

Book your hotel here!

BMW Munich – Summer in Germany – Simply the Best!

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure.

I live in Germany, which many consider to be an expensive Western nation. I can afford a life of travel and a comfortable Berlin lifestyle.

I choose to have it all.

HOW I CAN AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL. DON’T CHOOSE: LIVE A LIFE OF STYLE AND TRAVEL!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

This article is not sponsored, and the exciting countries that I plan to visit in 2018, all my very own!

In January, I’ll be making an announcement that will probably surprise you. Find out throughout January!

I went on a press trip to Hamburg. Watch out for the details!

I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK later in the month!

In a few weeks, I’ll be visiting Belgium!

I’ll be at the British Shorts Film Festival taking place between 11th – 17th January. If you’re an aspiring film-maker submission is free of charge, so hurry!

I’ll be at the most famous burlesque-fantastic Berlin operetta – Frau Luna – Operette in zwei Akten, taking place at TIPI AM KANZLERAMT, between 11th January – 11th March. Everyone’s most excited!

I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week taking place between 16th – 18th January.

I’ll be at the 33rd British Council Literature Seminar – #BritLitBerlin taking place between 25th – 27th January, 2018. If you want to attend or join in, registration is now open!

Save the Date!

I’ll be there. Will you?

If you’re not in Berlin in January, then where the hell are you?

January is going to be splendid!

See you next week!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Live a life of style and travel!

What do you choose to do with your holiday/vacation time? Where are you going in 2018? Have you been to any of the countries above? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

On a clear day you can even see as far out into Slovenia!

Well, this summer has been something!

I mean, I met Prince William & Kate Middleton!

Wait. What?

Where have you been?

If you’re just joining, here’s really what you missed:

Prince William & Kate Middleton
©Getty Images

And a few weeks before that, I wrote this: Fantastic news! I’m travelling to Sweden & Slovenia by bus. Now isn’t that just awesome. Eek!

I had a most fantastic time in both countries, and even though I wrote all about Sweden, I hadn’t actually got around to writing about Slovenia!

Until now!

A 5 MINUTE INTRODUCTION TO SLOVENIA!

Lake Bled – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

We visited Slovenia in June and it was utterly new, making the countries that I’ve visited (not that I’m counting you understand!) to be 37 countries in Europe, 12 countries in Asia, 6 countries in Africa, 2 countries in North America, 1 country in South America, 1 country in the Middle East, and 5 dependent islands! 3 countries (so far), have been new in 2017.

That makes a grand total of 64 countries and 5 continents!

Myself & “The Tall Young Gentleman” on top of the Velika Planina in Kamnik – Slovenia!

From the moment we got off the bus and fell exhausted into our hotel in Ljubljana, to the time that we fell exhausted into the arms of a loving husband and father one week later, Slovenia has been nothing but an utter pleasure!

And the locals have been fantastically welcoming, friendly, and enormously helpful.

Right!

Where to start?

Predjama Castle – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Slovenia, otherwise known as Slovenija or the Republic of Slovenia, is another tiny nation-state located on the northern Balkans, and described as being a country in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and South-East Europe!

It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the south and southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the southwest.

It has a mass of 20,273 square kilometers or 7,827 square miles and has a population of just 2.06 million people!

A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY…

One of the sculptures in Ljubljana. Does anyone know it’s name?

Not a lot of people know much about Slovenia. In fact, most people mix it up with Slovakia! 

Hmm!

Now since this is a five (5) minute introduction as opposed to thirty (30), it’s only right and proper that I give you the low down:

The Slovenian people are a mixture of Slavic, Germanic, Romance, and Hungarian, with most being Slovene.

Slovene or Slovenian is the official language, and Hungarian and Italian, are recognised as co-official languages too. In fact, most people are also quite able to understand Croatian and Serbian, as previously spoken languages from the former Yugoslavia!

Slovenia is a tiny, but historically old country, stemming right back from the Roman Empire, followed by the Habsburg Monarchy in Austria! In 1918, the Kingdom of Serbia was merged into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later becoming the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929!

Remnants of Yugoslavia and the Communist State at the flea market in Ljubljana, Slovenia!

During World War II, Slovenia was occupied and annexed by Germany, Italy, and Hungary, with a tiny area transferred to the Independent State of Croatia.

Slovenia became a founding member of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia or the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and was the only communist country in the Eastern Bloc which never became a member of the Warsaw Pact!

In 1991, Slovenia split from Yugoslavia and became an independent country. In 2004, Slovenia became a member of the EU and in 2007, became the first ex-communist country to have the Euro!

Book your hotel here! 

Slovenia has the one of the largest brown bear populations in Europe! In a tiny country that is rather a lot!

DID YOU KNOW THAT?

  • The tallest chimney in the world is the chimney of Trbovlje Power Station at 360 metres high!
  • The oldest wooden wheel in the world was found in the Ljubljana marshes, is about 5,200 years old, and I think I saw it!
  • The oldest grapevine in the world is in Maribor, and is about 440 years old!
  • The oldest musical instrument in the world is the Divje Babe flute, otherwise known as the Neandethal flute, is made out of a cave bear bone, was found above the Idrijca river, and is believed to be about 55,000 years old!
  • The first man to ski down the summit of Mount Everest was a Slovenian called Davo Karničar. And it was only in 2000!
  • Not only that, but the first married couple to conquer Mount Everest together were also Slovenian – Marija and Anfrej Štremfelj. They did this in 1990, and make me feel ashamed that I couldn’t even conquer hiking up a live volcano, not to talk of Mount Everest!
  • Slovenia has the one of the largest brown bear populations in Europe and is estimated to be between 500 – 700 bears! In a tiny country like Slovenia, that is rather a lot!
  • The oldest written document in the Slovenian language is a Freising manuscript dated between 970 and 1039 A.D!
  • The white horses known throughout the world as Lipizzaners, actually originate from a place called Lipica. In Slovenia!
  • Postojna Cave – which sadly, we didn’t quite make to visit ‘cos there was a rain storm, is the most visited cave in Europe!
  • Not only that, but there are more than 10,000 caves in Slovenia! 10,000!
  • And. The oldest cave show – the Vilenica cave near Lokev – has had people visiting since 1633!
  • The first printed book in the Slovenian language was published in 1550 by a Lutheran priest called Primož Truber.
  • Slovenia is the only country in Europe that combines four (4) diverse geographical regions namely: the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Karst (spanning Italy and Slovenia), and the Pannonian Plains (covering Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Austria, and Slovenia)!

Isn’t that cool?

Myself in Ljubljana – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

I mean, is it any wonder that I was intrigued to be visiting Slovenia.

Oh, and just so you know, the capital city is Ljubljana!

What?

Ljubljana!

Huh?!

You heard me. Lju-bl-jaaaaaaaaaana!

WHY LJUBLIJANA?

Fantastic news! I’m travelling to Slovenia by bus. Now isn’t that just awesome. Eek! Ljubljana – Slovenia
©D.wedam – Ljubljana Tourism

Because I’m weird and I like going to interesting exotic places!

Seriously though, the reason why I wanted to go to Slovenia is because I’d heard such a lot of wonderful things from practically everyone! And remember, just two years ago, I hadn’t heard of any of the Baltic or Balkan States. In fact, I couldn’t even pronounce them!

But the other reason that I wanted to visit was because of Ljubljana. I was hearing mixed messages and that some “experts” were saying that Ljubljana wasn’t worth more than a few hours!

When I hear things like this, it makes my blood boil!

The ignorance of people constantly astounds, and annoys me.

However, I am a strong supporter of Europe, and I have a weakness for tiny countries in the middle of beyond! Besides, I had such a wonderful time in Croatia, why wouldn’t I want to go to it’s “sister country” – Slovenia – too!

Me in Dubrovnik – Croatia!

We spent a jam-packed week in Slovenia, and not once did we get anywhere near bored!

  • I wanted to spend some quality time with The Tall Young Gentleman, and I think Slovenia was the perfect place to do it.
  • Slovenia is a very green country and like Croatia, amazingly beautiful. I mean, just look at the photography, so we spent quite a lot of time outdoors.
Ice-cream in Ljubljana – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!
  • Of course, we wanted to spend quite some time in Ljubljana itself as I like to get inside the soul of a city. I also wanted to prove people who say that Ljubljana only deserves a few hours, wrong!
  • We wanted to go on a guided tour so that we could get inside knowledge from local experts.
Cake as part of our “Taste Ljubljana culinary tour.” Of course, I couldn’t eat it, as it had almonds in it!
  • We wanted to go on a most delicious food tour. Because food. Yum!
  • We wanted to go to the Slovenian countryside and spend a day among the shepherds on Velika Planina!
I’m hoping our river cruise in Slovenia, is not going to look like this. Gulp!
But rather like this!
Boat cruise – Ljubljana – Slovenia ©D.wedam – Ljubljana Tourism
  • We wanted to go on a river cruise.
  • We wanted to explore Ljubljana’s largest and most beautiful parkland area at the Tivoli Park.
We explored Ljubljana’s largest and most beautiful parkland at the Tivoli Park – Slovenia
  • We wanted to spend some time rambling through the cobbled streets and running from one museum or local attraction to another, using the Ljubljana Card.
Lake Bled – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!
  • And to top it off, we wanted to spend a day at the stunning Lake Bled, not only surrounding ourselves with mountains, forests, and fresh air, but also the medieval Bled Castle.
FlixBus – Germany to Slovenia – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Oh, and we did all this by travelling from Germany to Slovenia by FlixBus – the bus-coach company! 

Again!

Yep!

You might have noticed that there’s an image of a FlixBus on the side of the panel. I’m so convinced that it’s one of the best ways to travel through Europe on the cheap, that I’ve joined their affiliate programme so that you can share in the fun too!

As usual, if you book your journey via my link, there is no extra cost to you, and I get a little percentage for my trouble.

Book your hotel here!

Gulp!

Find out more next week!

A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Just because Slovenia is a small nation, doesn’t mean that it’s “small!”

And I aim to prove it.

Book your hotel here!

A 5 MINUTE INTRODUCTION TO SLOVENIA!

At Ljubljana Castle – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

This article is part – sponsored, and even though I’m working in partnership with Ljubljana Tourism absolutely all opinions, and the fantastic time that we had, are my very own!

I’ll be spending the summer in Germany!

Will you?

A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Have you ever been to Slovenia? Do you think Ljubljana is worth more than a few hours? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

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