“The more I learn about Slovenia, the more there is to see and do!”
We are always happy to meet fellow travel bloggers, especially those who are showing and promoting Slovenia to the world. Wandering Helene is an American travel blogger, living in Slovenia. She says her travel blog is an attempt to document the world around her, being anywhere where there is coffee, food markets, and old streets to wander. We wanted to hear more, so we asked her if she would be willing to take part in our MOVING TO SLOVENIA series. She agreed, here is our interview with Wandering Helene!
How does Wandering Helene end up in one particular country, in your case Slovenia?
Living in one place was never really been the plan, but sometimes things happen that cause you to have a change of heart. In my case, it was literal, I fell in love with a Slovenian man. Of course this had a lot to do with the decision, but we could have gone anywhere. We decided we wanted Slovenia to be our home. I think it is such a beautiful and underrated country with a fascinating history and culture.
Where in Slovenia do you live, how do you find it living there, what do you currently do (besides blogging)?
I live in Ljubljana, but not in the center, which a lot of people are surprised to hear. At 32 years old, I don’t need to be next to the traffic and crowds. I have a yard which allows me to have a garden and we are currently refurbishing a chicken coop! Besides blogging I work as a freelancer doing a wide range of things such as research consulting, content creation, and social media management.
When and why did you become a travel blogger?
I started my blog a few years ago but it went through a few identity crises until it reached its current stage. I studied anthropology in university, and I am completely enamored with culture, food, languages, architecture, all of it. When I first started living abroad I was just posting an absurd amount of pictures on facebook and eventually realized that people were enjoying the places I went, the stories I told, and soon were asking me for advice. I was working as a freelance writer and editor for others so I thought why not build something of my own. Now I see it as my creative outlet since I have complete control over the content.
I love a little bit of everything. I love to photograph architecture (even those in ruins!), learn a bit about the history, see local art, but I might have to argue that food is my biggest interest. I am so passionate about food; trying local dishes, learning about the history of ingredients, how recipes change through time or when they cross borders. When I think back to my travels I usually remember the food the most.
Can you give a bit more background of your blog’s headline: Slow Travel,Local Food,Mindful Living.
Slow travel, to me, is a style of travel, as well as a mindset. It involves immersing yourself in a culture and keeping an open mind to new experiences. I am not racing around the globe to check off a list of places, or be herded around tourist traps. I love experiencing different cultures as they present new ways to understand and navigate the world.
Local Food, is about eating locally.
Mindful Living, is more of my personal philosophy that drives most things about me. Especially around travel and food. I believe strongly about the power of living in the moment and being mindful of your impact on the world. The impact I have when I speak, when I write a post, when I support an establishment, or even when I travel; what is the environmental impact as well as the local impact.
I want to encourage people to learn about the local foods when they travel. Not just try them, but also to learn about the history or importance of some dishes to a culture. Food is something that is essential to every human being and we all have very personal bonds with specific dishes and I think this is so fascinating.
Have you already seen a lot of Slovenia? Any favorite places or things to do?
I have seen a lot of things in Slovenia but honestly the more I learn, the more there is to see and do. One of my favorite places is Velika Planina. It is just one of those places that is so breathtakingly beautiful that it doesn’t even feel real.
One of the things me and my husband love to do is when we travel around Slovenia is that we try to stop at very local restaurants and tourist farms. Most of the time they don’t even have menus, just whatever they had fresh that day.
Another, which I just recently went to, is the Triglav Lakes. That place is so unreal it felt like another world.
How would you describe Slovenia and Slovenians to people who have never been here?
Slovenia is beautiful and I say this to everyone. When they eventually come and see it, they say “I can’t believe how green and beautiful it is!” Slovenians have been very friendly, they are not as open as Americans, but they are kind. The moment they realize you are embracing their culture (using Slovene, eating their food or drinks, etc) they definitely open up a lot more.
I read on your blog about recent visit to Budapest, that you really liked Hungarian food. How do you find the food in Slovenia?
I really like the food here although I am always told “That is not Slovenian!!” which is then proceeded by a history lesson and the dish is often from a nearby country. I really enjoy kranjska klobasa, ričet, Štruklji, and especially the wines. I drink almost exclusively Slovenian wine now that I live here. If I travel, of course, I like to pick up a bottle of local wine or liquor.
You already mentioned gardening – did you bring this hobby with you from back home or you started to garden here?
Interestingly, I brought it from the USA. When I was a little girl I would help my mom in her small garden. I remember having fresh tomatoes and lettuce during the summers. I usually would have some sort of food growing in my house, on my porch, or now in my garden!
Here everyone is very serious about gardening and the size of mine is much larger than I ever had before. I am always learning new things and it’s incredibly rewarding to grow my own food and share it with others.
There are many travel bloggers out there, inspiring us through social media to visit different places, do great things etc. How do you see the role of travel bloggers?
Travel bloggers are definitely on a spectrum. Their role changes based on if they are just documenting their experiences or actually help them with the practicalities (ie: creating travel guides). Personally, I try to mix the two. I love to use photos and videos to share my experiences in a visual way. I also love to research the history of places I travel and provide tips when I learn something useful.
What’s next on your list to blog about?
So many things! I am currently trying to see castles around Slovenia so there will be a lot more of this type of content as well as a lot more food. I’d love to meet people around Slovenia and learn more about the different local dishes. If this is you, don’t be shy to message me. I’d love to hear your story.