handy SLOcal Lingo
It is about time we did a few "local lingo tips" for visitors to Green Slovenia, but we always do things our own way here at the Lodge so we will only try to provide some really useful words..
We won't waste your time with the usual garbage trotted out like "2 beers please" or "can I have a return ticket to Bled", cos let's face it, if a local then replies back to you in Slovenian, you won't have a Scooby Doo what they have said anyway!
Luckily and reassuringly enough, almost everyone speaks English here, certainly any bartender or waiter worth their lemon slice & salt..
For coffee it is largely irrelevant what you ask for and more down to the "Coffee Gods" whether you get the type of coffee you think you ordered or amount of milk in it that you might expect.. coffee descriptions and interpretations here totally vary from region to region!
Despite your very best intentions, the Slovenian language is not one you will pick up easily along the way unless you are a particular fan of the letters Z, J and Y and absolutely hate having any vowels in words!
If that wasn't bad enough, they also put little flicky things on top of the Č, Š and Ž to destroy any lingering hope you might have left of pronouncing a word correctly and these are completely different letters in the alphabet as well!
We would go as far to argue that actually the Slovenian language is one of the biggest factors hindering Slovenian tourism, partly cos most Slovenians, even if they laugh and acknowledge it, REALLY do not realise how impossible the local lingo is to even guess at and how it looks like someone had an accident with a paint brush whenever us poor visitors have to try to read a road sign!
The solution is obvious and simple to do, but still to our deep frustration it doesn't even seem to enter the heads of most local tourist head honchos & supremos.. just put a bit of English on the signposts.. there is usually space.. or at the very least least have a decent picture of a castle or a cave.. (but even, then there are a lot of different castles and caves here everywhere to add to the potential confusion)!!
Most visitors will only know to look out for the well travelled, well publicised spots here like Bled or Piran and you cannot get lost finding these.. one is a big, picture perfect lake, the other is a Venetian seaside town to rival anything Croatia can offer..
So the really BIG problem is that us visitors are completely oblivious to what we are missing out on here, either hiking, biking or driving straight past all those oversized brown signs covered with Slovenian hieroglyphics and toungue twisters!
You see, unlike most countries, Slovenia is absolutely chokka block full of waterfalls, castles, amazing gorges, rivers and other Green natural wonders.. any other country in Europe would bite your arm off to have any one of these amazing treasures on their soil and would also trumpet them from the rooftops, so visitors would know all about them too..
Not here mate!
We should also explain that many Slovenians we meet have very little sense of how beautiful their country actually is.. on the rare occasions they actually do leave Slovenia they only seem to travel abroad to the same place where their grandparents always went at the Croatian seaside, so they don't have so much to compare to..
We have seen places that would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but for locals, it wouldn't even enter their head to think to put a sign up in English to tell visitors about just another waterfall or crystal clear river.. as they have loads of them!
So we apologise for quite a long winded & detailed explanation as to why we think you need this lingo blog, but now is the time to get your pen and notepad out and write these next few very important words down, then stick them firmly on your dashboard when driving around Green Slovenia..
And then any time you see one of these magic words on a brown sign just do an emergency stop or hand brake turn and go have an explore!!
(If you are interested, we also have a growing list of just some amazing Green treasures that you are very probabubbly missing out on in our SECRET PLACES TO VISIT section)
Of course everyone should know Please and Thanks in the local lingo, so please commit these 2 words to memory..
PROSIM is please, easy to say and HVALA is thanks.. say "valla", that will do, but if you want to crack the h, then say "hervalla", job done!
OK and a couple of extra bonuses too, LEP DAN is "have a nice day".. (only if you really mean it please)!
And ENAKO is another really good one, it means, "you too", (pronounced innarko), so with your limited Slovene it is the perfect way to exit any situation..
Upon parting, hopefully the local person has said something nice to you like "Lep Dan" for example, but let's imagine they just muttered an insult about your hairstyle or said you have no taste in clothes or that your breathe smells.. well, you can leave them speechless with a simple ENAKO.. "you too".. and the job is done as you trot off into your Green Slovenian adventures!
Now, at last below.. here are the really useful words to watch out for during your Slovenian adventures..
SLAP = Waterfall
The SLAP you will most likely come across on your travels will be "Slap Savica" on the other side of Lake Bohinj, which is fantastic, but just so you know, would probably not make our top 20 waterfalls in Green Slovenia as there are so many other more amazing ones here to find!
Our favourite SLAP here is Slap Kozjak which is not the biggest waterfall, but the amazing walk to get there alongside the Soca river and then up a "Lord of the Rings" mini valley with Hobbit bridges and finally the "kapow wow wow" when you finally slap your eyes on the waterfall for the first time make it simply unbeatable and a MUST SEE for your adventures here in Green Slovenia.
Not all Slaps are Slaps.. For example, there is a village called "SLAP" not so far from the Lodge in the uberbeautiful Green Vipava Wine Valley, but guess what.. There is no waterfall there.. (but sensational local wine and food)!!
KORITA = Gorge
Sooooo many visitors to Green Slovenia only get to see the "Vinegar Vintgar Gorge" cos they only rock up at Bled and have limited time to explore elsewhere.
This gorge is also amazing, but again, just so you know, this particular KORITA would be about number 4 or 5 on our current list of best gorges in Green Slovenia, so probably much better than anything you might have at home, but do make sure you check out our number ONE gorge near Lake Bohinj, called the Little Bridge Gorge (or Mostnica Korita).
And just when you thought, "OK, I can remember Korita", those mysterious Slovenians have ANOTHER word for gorge.. SOTESKA.. and here is another tip, there is a great one of these Soteskas near the Kamnik Gorge..
GRAD = Castle
It took us a while to realise that GRAD meant castle, but the penny finally dropped when doing a lap of Lake Bled.. we saw a little wooden sign on the other side of the lake for GRAD, so we took a gamble and followed it up.. We found an AMAZING, slightly dodgy route up through the forest to Bled Grad scrambling around the side and back of the castle with super views over the Alps and the island!
There are a lots & lots & lots of wonderful castles in Green Slovenia in all shapes, sizes and condition and the good news is that of all the brown signs here, you are most likely to get an additional castle symbol on a GRAD sign to help you out.
As far as we know, nobody else has thought to mention to you that there are A LOT of much better castles here than Ljubljana castle, so we wrote a blog about it all and also listed our Top 20 Slovenian Castles.. (but even in the year since writing that blog, we have found 2 more castles that we would put well above Ljubljana Grad in the list and straight into our TOP 20)!!
Just one of Slovenia's other amazing castles is Bogensperk Vampire Castle, with so much history, great stories and a fab restaurant too.. But you won't see the much needed sign on the Ljubljana to Maribor motorway to tell you when to turn off and find this GRAD.. we were informed by a member of the small local society that do wonders to keep this fantastic castle open and make your visit so much fun that they would need to raise thousands just to get a much needed motorway road sign.. rules for some eh!!
So please, if you are heading East at all, then try to go visit Bogensperk and show them your support!
IZVIR = Source or Spring of a new River
We cannot shout it more loudly from the rooftops that if you do spot any of these handy words we are telling you about now on a brown sign (and there are a lot of these signs around), then go off & follow them and you have a very strong chance of either being richly rewarded or getting horribly lost and possibly ending up on the edge of a mountain, but isn't that what being on holiday is all about?!
In our own experience, we have a little hobby/rule that whenever we go somewhere new to explore around here and we see an IZVIR (river spring) sign then we follow it like a rat up a drainpipe..
Seriously, you will never have seen more 3 point turns or heard more swear words mumbled in our car, but in the end we usually find a new fab river source!
You can read more about IZVIRS or RIVER SPRINGS here..
It might well be one of your most unexpected and fabulous Green adventures here to hunt down a new source of a river following an IZVIR sign!
REKA = River
This is probably the sign you will see the most in Slovenia as there are a lot of rivers indeed and most roads will end up crossing one!
The most beautiful of them all is the SOCA, of course and yet another non negotiable MUST SEE, but there are so many other REKA here to walk along, swim in or kayak on, to catch or spot fish in and even a warm REKA in the Alps..
Slovenia has so much green stuff it just isnt fair to the rest of Europe!
JAMA = Cave
Needless to say, in Europe's capital of caves, the hidden Jama here that might give you the best secret adventures are the ones you might not have heard about!
There are a lot more show caves here than your guide book might tell you about in more than a brief paragraph or footnote and there are lots of dedicated local people & cavers who can take you to see them!
At the very least, by following a small JAMA sign you will ineveitably be led to a very peaceful and beautiful secret place, so it would be well worth a little extra hike to find out!
Even if the cave is not open to visitors or only open on Sundays or whatever, you can usually have a bit of an explore around outside in green nature or into the cave mouth a bit for your own personal adventure!
There are some very special secret caves and Jama experiences here.. in one you can get guided on a 4 hour adventure in a rubber boat, in another you take a kayak into the mouth of the only cave in Europe where you can see two rivers meeting and crashing into each other.. many Jama have Baby Dragons inside.. so maybe check out our CAVE section or ask more when you are here!
JEZERO = Lake
You might remember a recent Mars mission landing at a JEZERO.. well there must have been a Slavic, maybe even Slovenian astronomer around to name that point on Mars and you won't be surprised to know that some of the Slovenian lakes are out of this world too!!
Especially the magical Disappearing Lakes, but to have any chance of finding one you will need to look for the word JEZERO appearing on a brown sign.
The biggest disappearing lake of them all at Cerknica has sinkholes that look a bit like the moon, where the water rapidly drains away in the summer and floods just as fast during the autumn to create the largest lake in Green Slovenia!
BOLNIŠNICA = Hospital (look out for the word PARTISANSKI with hospital and you will have hit the jackpot.. for a secret WW2 Partisans forest hospital)!
We do not exagerate when we say that one of the very best outdoor museums in Europe is the "Secret Partisans WW2 Hospital" near Cerkno.. the feedback and emotion from our guests lucky enough to make time to explore here confirms this bold statement.
But do not expect to get any help finding this secret place with the brown signs, cos you are expected to be mind readers and know that the wonderful lady doctor who founded and kept this hospital hidden away at the top of a river up a mountain was called Franja.. so you need to look for a sign that just says something like FRANJA BOLNISNICA!!
You see why we humbly ask for just a few little words in English to explain to the rest of the world where this particular wonder of the world, (seriously, go there and tell us we are not right) can be found.. We are not sure how you could draw a picture on a road sign for a secret hospital hidden in the forest half way up a mountain, so even just "Partisan secret hospital" would do fine!
There are even more hidden, special hospitals and a WW2 printing press to be found in the Slovenian forests and our Secret Forest Hospital section!
MOST = Bridge
One of our big general tips for spending your valuable holiday time in Green Slovenia is to "cross the bridge" whenever you get a chance and take a bit of a risk with your schedule to go explore!
A bridge is a MOST in Slovenian and you might also see some signs saying NAPOLEON MOST as the little fella's armies had to cross Slovenia on the way to Russia and they built a network of bridges here.
Whichever of these signs you come across for bridge, it signals a good time to park the car or chain up the bike and go scramble next to the river a bit!
The bridges themselves are usually very beautiful, but often trigger points for you to see the river and local nature at it's best.. so you know what to do now if you see a sign for a MOST!
We have found so many pretty bridges here made from every type of material that we just had to do another section on them, so if you are interested, please check out our Bridges page..
And if your nerves have lasted this far, then there is a just one more linguistic twist of the knife to warn you about!
Slovenian is tricky enough without having to do this, but they also sneakily keep changing the endings of words too, with about 17 different endings to confuse us even more.. so in a very simplistic example, you might be looking for Predjama castle, but on the sign you might get Predjamski Grad.. (if you are lucky you might also get a picture of a castle)..
So at least now you know GRAD is castle and Predjama is on every list of the best castles in the world, so there is a good chance with this particular GRAD that you will get to find this castle..
But other lesser known secret places with more Js, Žs or Čs in them could totally morph into something else with skis flying around to completely throw you off the scent!
Sorry to do that to you at the end, but better to be preparedski!!
How could we not do a beer tip at the end.. it is a straight shoot out in beers here between Lasko and Union, so worth establishing early on which is your fave, but if a local micro beer is ever available, go for it! And there is even a beer fountain you can try your new language skills out at if you like!
On an even lighter note, we will now leave you to gather your nerves with a few comedy names that hopefully will now make a bit more sense to you!
Slovenia's biggest castle is so big they even named it twice.. GRAD GRAD.. true and there is also a big river in the south called REKA REKA, the River "River".. talk about imagination!