Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Slov- where?

My Slovak students always gave this as their first piece of advice for foreigners: learn the difference between Slovakia and Slovenia. If I remember correctly, George Bush made some famous mistake with the two ...

So I was indeed quite surprised after a couple of days in Ljubljana (Slovenia's capital, George), to find the two countries somewhat similar. As in Bratislava, a glimpse of Ljubljana's hilltop castle peaks in at the end of many streets of the old town; and the two languages bear plenty of resemblance. We bought grapes and bananas from Ljubljana's Trznica (markets), a place we could find because of its similarity to the Slovak word.

On the whole, I guess Slovenia seemed to have been less affected by socialist times, and had been faster at catching up with the west - Ian read that Slovenia is already a net contributor to the European Union. But in common with most of this part of the world, we could get by with mumbling Slovak words and being more-or-less understood, and we met down-to-earth people who made us want to return.

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