A Weekend in Slovenia:
Let me begin by saying I had never heard of Slovenia before traveling to the fairy tale town of Bled. Living here in Firenze I have a rather large group of friends who tend to go out or travel with one another a lot. There are the guys of apartment F13, the Chiara girls, and another group of girls. One night we were all getting ready to go out for the night when we decided that Firenze was getting boring and we needed to go travel. After very little discussion we decided we needed to go ski, but where could we go?
In most situations like these, the boys of F13 and I leave it up to the Chiara girls, and once again it payed off. Naturally, the Chiara girls knew just what to do and before long approached us with two destinations with a travel company based here in Firenze. One of their friends, lets call her JMuntz, happened to be an intern at a student travel company called EuroAdventures. EuroAdventures works as an independent company that takes care of the travel needs of those who utilize them. They book chartered buses, planes, and cruise liners to take a group of students to various places throughout Europe from Barcelona, Spain to Dubrovnik, Croatia. They take the responsibility of transportation, accommodations, expertly guided tours of the selected locations, and organizing additional activities that people would like to take advantage of from white water rafting in Croatia, to glacier climbing in Switzerland.
After scanning through EuroAdventures’ trip catalog we found two locations that fit our interests, Interlaken, Switzerland, and Bled, Slovenia. My roommates had visited Interlaken the previous weekend and spoke very highly of it. It is known throughout the world as one of Europe’s extreme sports havens. With activities ranging from skiing, glacier climbing, cliff jumping, skydiving, night sledding, and more. It all sounds amazing…and it is. However, the downside to this grandeur is the cost. Unlike the rest of Europe, Switzerland possesses its own currency – the Swiss Franc – which has a relatively equal exchange rate to that of the dollar. These experiences, however, are never cheap even in the United States. On average, each costs around 200 Swiss Francs. If you add the high cost of living in Interlaken, where a cheeseburger costs about $16 after exchange rates, you have a potentially bankrupting weekend for a poor college student. Bled, Slovenia on the other hand, functioned on the complete opposite side of the monetary spectrum.
Slovenia itself is a quaint charming country and the city of Bled is described as a fairy tale town. In all reality this isn’t an exaggeration. Bled was first mentioned in written recordings around April 10, 1044 when it was awarded by Emperor Henry II of the Holy Roman Empire to Bishop Albuin of Brixen. Throughout the centuries it was under the control of various powers from the Hapzburg Empire to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia until it’s municipal independence in 1996. During this time Bled has grown around its lake (Lake Bled) to encompass its surroundings while not tarnishing the lake itself. It has become a luxury spa location with opportunities for spas and massages, skiing and sled dogging, and ice skating and hiking. Best of all, it would only cost about 40 euro to go skiing, including the snowboard and snow gear rentals. In addition, the average cost of food in the small sandwich shops is about 4-5 euro with most beers and drinks being around 2-3, (in Firenze most beers are 5 euro and drinks range from 7-10 euro). After learning all of this, it was decided; we were going to Slovenia!