I’ll admit that I spent quite a bit of time trying to guess where Bridgette would take me on this surprise trip. I studied Google Maps for the longest time, honing in on even the smallest islands and countries to explore all the possibilities. I pretty much ruled out Asia, since most of the countries there were still closed to foreigners, or had strict quarantine requirements in place. I also ruled out South America, because COVID numbers were consistently high in many of the countries there. I knew she’d challenge herself beyond North America, so that was out as well. Antartica was out of the question for the months that we were traveling, and both Australia and New Zealand remained close to foreigners. That left Europe, because most European countries had reopened to vaccinated US citizens by that point, without any quarantine requirements. Still, there were a ton of places within Europe that were possible contenders, so it was definitely not easy to guess!
Bridgette made me refrain from looking at any monitors at the airport that would giveaway our destination, and also had me wear my airpods during the flight so I wouldn’t hear any announcements. I was cooperative, because I truly wanted to be surprised. As we were getting ready to descend, I looked out the window and saw the lush, green landscape beneath us. I was sure we had arrived to Switzerland!
The airport that we arrived to was a visibly smaller airport. I looked around for signs of the country that we were in, but surprisingly, there weren’t any! We made our way through immigration, and then stood by the baggage claim to wait for our luggages. It was then that my eye finally honed into our destination…
I was truly stunned. Slovenia??? This country was definitely not one that was even on my radar. How did Bridgette even come to know about it? Meanwhile, Bridgette was giddy with excitement that the first destination surprised me so much. Once I got over my initial shock, I became giddy with excitement to explore this country that was so foreign and mysterious to me.
After this surprise trip, one thing I realized was that Bridgette knows me SO well. She knows me deeply on all fronts, including my taste in food and interiors. Every Airbnb she picked was reflective of what I would personally pick, every activity was one that I would book, and every restaurant was tailored to my palette! I am so very thankful for my observant and loving daughter!
This first Airbnb in Ljubljana was just perfect! It was mere steps from the local produce market and old town, the style was modern and comfortable, and it was located on the first floor so we didn’t need to carry our luggages up any staircase.
We absolutely loved our week in Ljubljana. Everyday, we’d walk out our Airbnb and into the local market that was filled with fresh fruit, fresh produce, and local artisan jewelry and gift items. There were vending machines where we could get fresh cow milk and organic eggs, which we consumed as a part of our breakfast nearly everyday. It was so fun to walk through the market, and into the old town filled with charming little boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
Because I had no idea how long we’d be staying in Ljubljana, I really cherished every day that we were there, thinking that it could be our last day. It motivated me to be as present as possible for each part of the day. At first, I kept anticipating when Bridgette would tell me to pack up, but by the third day, I decided that I needed to just let it go!
During our time there, Bridgette surprised me with a bike tour, where a guide took us around many idyllic places around the city. We also visited the Ljubljana Castle and took a day trip to Lake Bled. Lake Bled was just a short bus ride away (a little over an hour) and totally worth visiting. It is one of the most picturesque lakes I have ever seen, surrounded by the Julian Alps. The tiny natural island on Lake Bled is a famous tourist attraction and looks straight out of a storybook with a beautiful church in the center. Folklore has it that the island was created by fairies, which doesn’t sound that far off if you see it in person because it looks absolutely magical! When we arrived to Lake Bled, we decided to be adventurous and rented a canoe to row ourselves out to the island. Well, to be factual, Bridgette ended up rowing us to the island while I cheered her on, lol. It took over and hour (and a whole lot of energy) so when we arrived onto the island, we found a place to rest while admiring the panoramic view all around us.
After leaving the island, we decided to hike up the hill to take the toboggan, which turned out to be a great decision because once we got up there, we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Lake Bled and its island! The toboggan was also really fun, and much faster than we anticipated.
We enjoyed a lovely early dinner right by the lake before taking the bus back to Ljubljana. While we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do (both skydiving and paragliding were not available due to wind conditions) it was still a wonderful day trip!
If you ask Bridgette now for her top countries to return to, or to live in, Slovenia will be right up there with Japan. We both loved our time there and vowed to go back in the near future to see more of the country. We loved the easygoing lifestyle, the incredible food, the push for eco-friendly everything, the art-centered culture, and so much more!