A friend of mine once claimed that Slovenia was the “New Zealand of Europe”. Being a huge fan of all things Kiwi my ears instantly pricked up. Could there really exist a place so breathtakingly beautiful here on my doorstep (…relatively speaking)? ‘He must have just seen mountains and made the link’, I assured myself. Surely this tiny slice of land in central Europe could not compete with the land of the long white cloud?
I decided to investigate. Slovenia tooks its well-deserved place on my Eurotrip itinerary 2010. Five days, three locations, a hell of a lot of fun. Hand on heart, I can say that Slovenia is indeed the closest thing to New Zealand I’ve seen on this continent, what with all the mountains and lakes and GREEN everywhere. My Kiwi travel partner Rosie had to agree. But not only that, I was also equally enamoured with the people I met on my journey. It seems that people are what make a truly lasting impression on me and it is on these grounds I can compare Slovenia and NZ.
After a walk around the beautiful lake, it was time for a pit-stop. It was at the George Best Bar that we met Zdravko. Now, usually when a strange older man beckons you over from the other side of a bar, fag and pint in hand, a young woman like me runs for the hills. But being in my free-spirited travelling mindset, I decided to say hello. He didn’t seem too dodgy and there were hills-a-plenty if I did need a quick getaway… turns out I didn’t. We ended up staying for a couple of hours, meeting his friends Dave and Jethro (British and Dutch) and basically having a right old laugh.
Instances like these are for me, what travelling is all about. In our day to day lives, we are often so stressed out or focused on ourselves that we ignore eachother. Weeks and months pass, and we have nothing to show for it except an endless length of mechanical existence. We barely have time to keep in touch with our loved ones, let alone spend an afternoon conversing with complete strangers. Zdravko was one of those special people, whose positive outlook on life and unconditional kindness left Rosie and I with some fantastic memories. Although he had to leave us in the evening, he called in a favour so that we could eat at the town’s busiest restaurant, for half the usual price. Random acts of kindness like this remind me to open my eyes and appreciate all the good in the world…I cannot thank Zdravko enough.