And here it is folks...the final post of our Europe Trip...finally.
I have some other things I'd like to blog about, eventually, but I don't like to go out of order, so it will be nice to have this series wrapped up. And hopefully you'll enjoy reading it too.
Slovenia (next to Bulgaria, for obvious reasons,) was my FAVORITE part of the whole trip. We were only there for 2 1/2 days, which wasn't enough, but it was lovely!!!
Most people probably don't even know where Slovenia is - or that it is even a country. That's what I thought when my little brother Mark opened his mission call in 2006. It was soooo exciting. I received my mission call about 2 months prior and was going to Bulgaria and then to find out that Mark was going to be in the same part of the world was so exciting!!! We were in the MTC together for 4 weeks. We saw each other everyday and even got in trouble for being too close together. (You're not supposed to have any sort of "more-than-friends" relationships as a missionary.) But we broke the rules and I hugged him a few times. :)
Mark had always said Slovenia was beautiful, but until I saw it for myself I just didn't understand.
Imagine Switzerland (if you've been there, or seen pictures). Rolling green hills, quaint little villages, white cows and sheep tucked in the green. Now times that by 10 and you get Slovenia. The mountains are more intense and the villages are smaller. It also has a very "small country" kind of feel. There are only like 2 million residents, so they are able to keep things clean, tidy and controlled.
Another bonus is that there are fewer tourists and very few Americans (but everyone speaks English), so it adds to the feeling of adventure and vacation.
On our first day we headed to the mountains (didn't care to see anymore cities) and spent some time at Lake Bled. That church is on an island! This picture hardly captures the real-life beauty.
We originally had planned on staying at a hostel in the main city, but after being there we were really hoping to find something else. It was nasty and hot. Word to the wise: Don't go to a hostel after age 21. They are not for married couples.
We quickly learned that just about every other home in the villages had rooms (sobes) for rent. So we started searching. We knocked at the first house, which was unfortunately full, but fell in love with the garden (below)!!! It was heaven to us Browns.
|This is the norm! Everyone has a beautiful garden where|
you will always find cabbage and pole beans!
Tanner and I were really in heaven. I LOVE the outdoors. I love green stuff! The air was crisp and full of fresh oxygen! Seriously, it was the norm for everyone to have a great garden, fruit trees, and fresh flowers!
We eventually found a "sobe" for about $60 a night in a beautiful town nestled in the mountains and by a beautiful lake. It included a delicious breakfast with homemade juice, yogurt, fruit and eggs from the farm!
|We went on a little hike in the morning.|
|A house nearby.|
|Where we stayed. Our room is on the top balcony.|
|Our little car!|
The next day we drove around some more and stopped by a few lakes.
Everyone had their own little corn crop too.
We stopped by Lake Bled again and just couldn't resist jumping in!!! It was soooooo clear. After getting out I felt like I had just bathed in purified water. You could see down as far as the light would shine. It was amazing. Ready, 1...2...3...jump!
We then went to a famous river, Vingard. It was about a 1 mile walk over the river and through the woods....(um, no grandmother's house there...) on these cool wood walkways. You can see in the pictures below how clear the water is! Just breathtaking.
|That goes down at least 30 feet!|
|Can you see the fish?|
After 2 great days in the mountains we headed over towards Maribor on the east side of Slovenia. (It takes less than 2 hours to drive across the tiny country.) Mark lived in Maribor for 1 year, so he had a lot of fun reminiscing and showing us around. We went to church the next day. I really enjoyed the small branch. The Slovenian people are so open-minded - the way they talked about their relationship with and love for Jesus Christ was really beautiful. They are a special people.
Then we went to visit a family that joined the church while Mark was there. They were really sweet. Very poor, humble, and happy. What was really cool was that I could understand when they were talking! At one point I was translating for Tanner!!
So, I speak...English, French, Bulgarian, and apparently Slovene! Haha, not really, but I could understand a lot! It was so cool. I love languages! I love learning of their origins and how all the different languages are connected and the similarities in the words. I don't know why, but it's just something I love. I'd love to learn a few more languages in my lifetime. I'm sure I'll learn Spanish eventually.
We had a great time and I'm grateful for the opportunities I have had to see so much of the world so early in my life. During all my travels there is one thing I am always struck by - we really are all the same. We all want to be loved, to love and to be happy!
The next morning we departed! Voila! C'est tout. Това е! Ciao bella!