I had no expectations for Slovenia. I had no time to even come up with any. I usually have great, big expectations for places we go, and often those preconceived notions lead me right into disappointment. How can anything live up to a lifetime of calendar covers and screen savers?
I had never seen a coffee table book about Slovenia or a Pinterest file featuring this little country tucked in between Italy, Austria, and Croatia. Peaking mountains give way to fruit-scented meadows. The proud and minuscule precious coastline can be reached from the perfectly lively capital in just a few hours.
Slovenia is a fairy tale country and its lakes reflect its beauty to the heavens! We were mesmerized by Lake Bled. We spent a day on its shores gazing up to the castle and rowing out to the island with its magical wishing bell. We ate velvety Bled cream cake and watched the sunset, as the kids fished and fed the ducks. We thought it couldn’t get any better until Lake Bohinj revealed itself to us. This majestic, less-visited lake has a spiritual clarity that is undeniable, especially when crowned by the autumnal burnt-orange foliage on its banks.
Still ringing from the stillness of the lakes, we made our way to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital city. As we approached on a sunny Friday afternoon, slid into a parking space near the Dragon Bridge, and explored, we discovered it was market day! To our delight, there was an incredible international food market in this stunning city, full of benches and squares and personality. We feasted on steaming Thai food, Egyptian kebabs, and the kids even had a turn at stirring the Slovenian pancake dish called smorn.
Feeling full and happy, we spent the next day exploring the Vintgar Gorge. We hiked along the wooden trail snaking the Radovna River. The trail followed the line of the emerald river shadowed by the 300 feet high canyon walls in places. The water was so clear that we could watch the fish resting in pools and then attempting their mighty ascent upstream. Each day in Slovenia a new screen saver image revealed itself to us.
I realized coming into an experience with the absence of expectation is a brilliant, open perspective in which everything surprises and delights. Maybe excited anticipation is the right approach because of the openness inherent in uncertainty. Where expectations are laden with ideas about how something will be, anticipation is a feeling of infinite possibility. Slovenia was my teacher. I hope to remember all that she taught me from this day forward.