We accepted a housesit in a small village called Trdkova which was almost at the Slovenian Austrian border and in fact has a geocache at the triangle point where the borders of Austria, Slovenia and Hungary join. In the photo below you can see the flags of the three countries.
Our housesit involved looking after 3 cats. Two of the cats Kazimir and Wespe were very old at sixteen and seventeen years old. In fact Kazi had only one tooth! They were very affectionate and striking, unusual-looking cats. They loved sleeping in the sun, especially Kazi who loved his tepee. Then there was also Pukkie, a stray who made himself a member of the family. He was about three years old and spent a lot of time out and about.
The house itself is set in a lovely garden with views onto the nearby fields. There is a pretty very peaceful pond at the bottom of the property that has great ribbeting of frogs at night.
We enjoyed our time in Trdkova and it gave us a chance to relax and just be for a bit. But we experienced several issues. Adu forgot his thick MTN jacket on the Flixbus from Vienna to Ljubjana. We contacted Flixbus online but it was never handed in.
We hired a car for nearly two weeks from Maribor. This was by far the cheapest way of getting a car, which was very expensive in Slovenia. The car hire experience was not the best. Adu left me with the luggage at the Maribor train station (after a bus and train trip). He arrived late to fetch the car, but still within opening hours and they had gone home. Two hours later he picked me up at the station. I found this nerve wracking as he had the cell phone with the sim card and we had no way of communicating as even text or SMS did not work in Slovenia. (South Africa has no roaming agreement in Slovenia). The coffee shop he left me at had no WIFI. Interestingly we had the same lack of roaming experience in North Macedonia. But in NM all coffee shops had wifi. I also could not move anywhere else as I had all the luggage.
On returning the car Adu also had an unhappy tourist experience. He had to catch a train to Murska Sobata & then he had researched that there was a bus twice a day that would drop him about 400m from our housesit. He bought the bus ticket and had this confirmed at the kiosk. Luckily Adu speaks excellent German and he was able to use this often in communicating. He waited for the bus but was told “No, I don’t stop there take the next bus an hour later”. The next bus arrived and he was told the same thing. He still got on that bus as it was over a 60-minute trip and it was getting late. He then had to walk over 1km to the house. The stop Adu wanted is shown online as “on the route”, is on the bus stop printout on the wall, and was mentioned by the man at the station. I think the bus driver was just lazy. The bus is always empty and it’s meant to do this last loop before he parks it but he claims it doesn’t. If I compare this to great friendliness and helpfulness we have experienced in other countries, Slovenia has a long way to go.
But what it did have was utterly stunning forests. The forests in Slovenia are viewed as a natural asset and are protected. We found these information boards on all the different trees interesting. There is an amazing mix of trees in the forests.
We saw an incredible vibrant and verdant green everywhere.
We also found the houses were often painted in bright colours and were neat and tidy. There are no street names but rather numbers on a house depicting the number in that village.
On one of our first few days we drove to the bigger closer town Murska Sobota and went to this very big Spar to shop. It was much bigger than any Spar I have seen in South Africa. It had huge variety of things. We found produce quite expensive. We had just come from the Balkans, but still I think it was more expensive than France. I found this carport quite sleek looking.
We also visited a nearby water spring where the water bubbles with the high sulphur levels. It was meant to be very healthy and several people came to fill up bottles whilst we were there. I did not like the taste. It also has a very high iron content and the water runs red.
We went to the deserted Matzenau Manor built at the beginning of the 19th century by an Italian architect. The grounds over 400 acres have an incredible collection of trees. The manor house has fallen in disrepair, but an attempt has been made to provide walkways and information boards and benches between the trees. The Plane tree grows to 40m in height.
The one person that was helpful and could speak English was at a supermarket where we bought bread and ham. Interestingly two bread rolls were more expensive than the 200g of pizza ham! I am sure this is the effect of wheat prices going up because of the Ukraine crisis. But the lady on hearing that we had driven down to see a lake (that was in fact empty and being repaired), suggested we visit a beautiful orchid place. They export orchids all over the world.
Some other interesting pictures are the local school and the children learning to ride bikes. Also this town has an unfortunate name 😊
Part of this adventure is also to find somewhere that we can perhaps rent something long term. A bolthole. Even then, we will still keep house sitting for a good portion of the year but it will be good to have a small base. But with our retirement in South African Rand, we don’t want this base to cost too much and we wondered if something in Slovenia would fit.
Slovenia is incredibly scenic and beautiful and has such an abundance of green and forests. But very little English is spoken. I think it would be very hard to fit in. We spent time in the two extremes, tourist filled Lake Bled, and then rural Trdkova. We also purposefully visited some bigger cities nearer to Trdkova like Maribor and Muska Sobota. But still, we did not find the environment very welcoming. Even our hosts who are an Austrian / German spend all their “social” time visiting / shopping / doing Pilates or Zumba 10km over the border in Austria.
I don’t regret the experience though. This is all part of the slow explore adventure.