»The biggest delusion about Slovenia is that it’s small!«
Moving to Slovenia – Bogdana’s Story
After visiting Slovenia only once, a Bulgarian national Bogdana Angelova knew this is the place where she wants to live. She has been discovering her new home ever since she has moved here in 2017 and she is still very enchanted by it.
She wishes more Bulgarians would discover and visit Slovenia in the future, and also that more Slovenes would discover Bulgaria.
Featuring photo: Piran, Slovenia
Why and how did you end up in Slovenia?
I did not end up here by chance. I felt a very strong connection and pull to Slovenia. A strong chemistry since my first visit to Slovenia and Lake Bled.
I kept coming back to this country where everyone and everything made me feel at home, a place which meant joy and happiness. I’ve climbed Mt. Triglav, I’ve been to the Slovenian coast, I’ve been WWOOF-ing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms ) at an organic farm here in Slovenia, where my hosts turned into my Slovene family and they have been beside me ever since.
Furthermore, I was completely enchanted by Ljubljana – its stories about dragons, its vibrancy and joy, the proudly standing castle overlooking the picturesque river and charming old town, the all-embracing green hills and breathtaking mountains.
The beauty of Slovenia reminds me of my Bulgaria. Slovenia has everything – gorgeous nature and warm people. The English say: “A change is as good as a rest«, and often on traffic lights in Ljubljana one sees a sticker: “Push to reset the world”.
For me, moving to Slovenia is a change desired in many aspects: personally, professionally and emotionally. I’m living my dream now! That is both fulfilling and empowering, isn’t it?
Did you find it easy to start a life here?
My employer and my Slovene friends helped me with the move. Being an EU citizen made things very easy from administrative perspective. The first steps were: getting an address registration, opening a bank account, selecting a general practitioner.
Speaking Slovene helped me a lot to be independent in my every day activities. The Expats in Slovenia Facebook group is quite helpful, as well as the Couchsurfing community.
How did you find a place to live?
A close friend of mine generously shared her home with me until I found my own place. My flat hunt was based on internet websites and it was going nowhere – people were not answering their phones, if they did – the property had already been rented out or they were on holiday and viewings would be possible in a month, others required 2-3 month’s rent deposit in advance. I contacted a real estate agency as well, but there was no match between my search criteria and what they had to offer at that point.
So, by word of mouth, piece of luck and again friends, I found my new home in Ljubljana.
What do you like most about your life here so far and what least?
I appreciate the clean environment, people are very polite and more relaxed and seem to have more time to socialize with each other. My working hours allow me to start earlier and finish early enough, so that I can have a couple of extra free hours every day as compared to my work schedule in Bulgaria.
On another note, what I find a bit restrictive is that there are few direct and low cost flights from Ljubljana compared to Sofia.
How has it been to develop a social circle here?
I’ve joined the Mountain Club Ljubljana Matica because I love hiking. We also have hiking events at work – the Full Moon Hikes and some weekend hikes. Last time we went to Velika Planina.
Last but not least, I’m a proud member of Horo Banda 1-2-3 – our amazing international group for Bulgarian folklore dances in Ljubljana! Yes, I was equally surprised to find out about it, who would have thought there was a Bulgarian dance group!
Have you already seen a lot of Slovenia?
The biggest myth or delusion about Slovenia is that it is small. It may be a matter of hours to drive from border to border. But if I paraphrase Mr. Ibrahim from a novel Mr. Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran: »I’m not interested in geometry but in discovering more secret places and meeting wonderful people«. The more I travel, the more I want to see and experience.
My upcoming weekends are overbooked with numerous hiking opportunities, visiting quaint little towns, going to local festivals and events and experiencing the life through the eyes of a local. I also follow local travel blogs such as Let’s Go Slovenia, Exploring Slovenia, Adele in Slovenia, Piran Café, and some other blogs for ideas and inspiration. I’m thankful to all my friends who have shared with me their favourite places and invited me to different family events, like the olive harvest in Sečovlje last year!
I’m looking forward this year to visits from a lot of my Bulgarian and international friends. I recently started sharing my experiences in a travel blog, I really wish more Bulgarians will discover the beauty of Slovenia.
What’s your favorite thing about Slovenia? Do you have a favourite place so far?
Kmetija Sončni Žarek – a farm where my Slovene family lives and where I’ve spent one of my happiest summer holidays and many other special days, is one of my favorite places in Slovenia. As well as places like Bled and Bohinj, Koper, Velika Planina, Ljubljana’s old town …
But there is plenty more awaiting to be discovered!
What do you think about the food in Slovenia?
Delicious, fresh, natural and home grown/made. I like the quick and easy access to products from local farmers – mlekomats (milk machines), local markets, the Green Circle, etc.
I’ve enjoyed the delights of Sweet Istra festival in Koper and the Kaki Festival in Strunjan.
Fridays is a feast of various excellent food at the Open Kitchen in Ljubljana.
How do you find the cultural life here?
It’s amazing how many events there are, especially in the summer, and not only in Ljubljana but everywhere. One important event on my wish list this year – Nina Pušlar’s concert!
What do you think of the prices in Slovenia?
When it comes to prices – I’m genuinely puzzled and shocked about the book prices in Slovenia. In fairness, libraries are wonderful, but books seem to be a luxury here.
What’s your experience with public transport here?
Funny. I was planning a trip to Ptuj for the carnival this year and knowing how major and famous an event this was I went to book my train tickets 3 weeks in advance. The sales assistant had such a good laugh. She said there was absolutely no need to buy tickets in advance. And it turned out she was right – there were less than ten passengers on the train.
That has happened to me more than once. I don’t know why the trains here have no passengers. I like the trains here, the weekend ticket price is inviting, only the weekend schedule is less frequent than on week days.
Sometimes I find it hard to get to places in the vicinity of Ljubljana on a weekend, e.g. Terme Snovik (only 30 km away from Ljubljana) because there is only one bus in the morning and another one to return in the late afternoon.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that almost all Ljubljana bus lines cross the centre, whereas it would be a lot faster if some of them avoided the city centre and provided opportunities for connection to other lines outside of it. The Urbana card and the 90-minute-ticket are very convenient, but again it depends on the frequency of buses. Bicikelj (bike renting) and Avant2go (electric cars) are absolutely fantastic. They make life a lot easier and are environment friendly.
Any final thoughts on Slovenia, or maybe Ljubljana?
This is my new home now. Thanks to everyone along my journey to here, to all my friends here and back home as well as to my family. I wish more Bulgarians will discover Slovenia and vice versa.
Interview by Mari Podhrasky (@mari_podhrasky) / Twitter