Sunday, August 24, 2008

SKOFJA LOKA AND OUR NEW FRIENDS


21 km. northwest of Ljubljana is the town of Skofja Loka. It's not an exciting place filled with activities and sights but it is one of the oldest Slovenian towns with the best preserved town center and the first town in Slovenia to have received electricity. The over 1000 year old town is complete with a castle on the hill overlooking the town. We spent an afternoon there walking through the town, checking out the old buildings, visiting the town museum in the castle and spending a leisurely hour and a half in the cafe on the town square while Siena and Avocet played in their playground (McDonalds Slovenian style).



The best part of our day trip to Skofja Loka came at 5:00 when we went to the bus station in town to meet Natasa and Alenka. The two sisters, when travelling in Peru 10 years ago, met my friend Rick. Rick and his wife Marnie have since been to Slovenia several times, meeting up again with Natasa and Alenka. When I mentioned to Rick that we were going to Slovenia, he passed along their names to us. (Thank you Rick and Marnie).

Alenka and Natasa took us to their family home in Godesic, a few kilometers from Skofja Loka. There we spent the next three hours enjoying their hospitality, meeting their parents, Natasa's husband Michael and their daughter Zoya and Alenka's daughter Nika. And we talked and talked...We talked about travel which they both love and have done extensively and we talked about Slovenia. When it was time to take our leave, we talked about getting together again prior to our leaving Slovenia.



When we met again, Alenka and Natasa were our guests and joined us in our Ljubljana home. We went out to dinner and then back to our flat for coffee and dessert. The conversation never stopped. We learned that Slovenians get one year of paid maternity leave, extra vacation pay each year, get 3 Euros each day to pay for their lunch (or get lunch provided at work) and get paid for their mileage to and from work. We learned that salaries are low compared to the cost of living here and that it's hard to make ends meet if only one parent works. We talked history of Slovenia and the good living conditions under Tito in the former Yugoslavia. We learned how people here want bigger and fancier cars just like in the US. We talked about everything from school hours to the Balkan War to Slovenian toilet paper. It was sad when the evening came to an end but we are happy to now have Natasa and Alenka as our new Slovenian friends!