Potica is potica not pizza

Lake Bled, which is situated in northwest Slovenia at the foot of the Julian Alps, is one of Slovenia’s most picturesque natural wonders. The mineral-rich emerald green waters surround a small island with a baroque church and café specializing in the art of potica baking. 

After a twisty ride up and over Vršič Pass, we reached the waterfront where we boarded a small, motorless, wooden boat called a pletna, rowed by a local. We admired the lake’s unmeasurable beauty and tranquility. Once we arrived at the island about 10 minutes later, we ascended 99 steps to the café to bake our very own poticas. A local woman taught us how to make the traditional Slovenian dessert by first showing us the steps in the process and then setting us free and helping out us when needed.

First, we each floured a space on the wooden table, took a pre-portioned piece of dough, and formed it into a rectangular shape. We then rolled it out thin with a rolling pin until the proper size and thickness was reached. Next, we took a few heaping spoonfuls of walnut filling and spread it evenly on the dough. Then, we sprinkled finely chopped walnuts on top and attempted to roll the dough and filling as perfectly as our instructor had.

Somehow, mine stayed together and ended up fitting inside the mold. But if the rolls were too long, the extra length was sliced off made into little potica cookies. Before placing the rolled dough inside the mold, we spread a generous amount of melted butter inside to prevent the potica from sticking. We then gently placed the dough into the mold and punched a few holes into it before it was put in the oven.

While we waited for our potica, each of us was offered a refreshing glass of elderflower water with a walnut and tarragon potica sample. The walnut version, which is the most common, was slightly sweet and seemed to be the favorite out of the two. The savory tarragon slice was a bit unusual, but good in its own way. Next, we then walked to the church, toured the interior, and we each rang the bell and made a silent wish. Before long, the church was swarming with tourists so we exited the building and walked near the water, admiring the lake’s beauty and hoping to spot a swan.

About an hour later, our miniature poticas were ready. They tasted incredibly delicious and paired perfectly with a latte, conveniently available at the café inside the store. Now that we each have our own mold, we can share this traditional dish with our family and friends. Maybe one of us will get around to baking every one of the 80 varieties!


Jolee Keplinger, a sophomore, is majoring in mass communication with a minor in sustainability. Her hobbies include blogging, cooking, and anything involving art. She’s known as a foodie so it’s no surprise that her cultural presentation topic is Slovene cuisine.


Being a global citizen in Slovenia

I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks in Denver, Colorado, trying to pretend that my sugar-laden drink is anything close to the deliciously flavorful cappuccinos I consumed daily while in Slovenia. The atmosphere is sorely lacking without the quiet energy of the city-streets, with no bicyclists or accordion players in sight. To put it simply— it just isn’t the same.

Before seeing the abroad application posters last fall, I didn’t even know Slovenia was a place on this planet. I had no concept of the unique role that literature and language play in its culture, no way of knowing its ever-shifting place in history, no understanding of the wild adventures that we would soon embark upon in-country.

Our very first day in Ljubljana was a mixture of wonder and disorientation. As much as the beautiful city excited me, I felt fearful of the newness of the language and busy atmosphere. I was terrified to even attempt conversation in Slovene, and was content to stay inside without exploring on my own. 

Here is where experiential education swooped in to push me out of my comfort zone and forced me to expand my horizons.

After two mandatory exploration days (fondly referred to as “Ljubljana Is Your Teacher” days where we picked destinations around the city in search of new information and the best cuisine) and many days traveling around as a group to visit speakers and new sights, we began referring to Ljubljana as home. And it’s true! It felt like home. I began to order food in Slovene and even had short conversations with servers and shopkeepers. I spent many hours wandering the narrow streets without fear of getting lost because everything began to feel familiar.

This progression only continued as we made our way through the Croatian cities of Zagreb, Zadar, and Rab, and in the smaller Slovenian towns of Celje, Bled, Bovec, and Piran. As a group, we learned to ask the right questions to find the lesser-known treasures in each place that we visited. We navigated local markets, fought over who found the most delicious (and best priced) gelato, and talked to locals to learn about how much they loved their corner of the world. While our class in the spring gave us a background understanding of Slovenia and its culture, it was only through our in-country explorations that we developed a true understanding of what it means to be Slovenian.

The concept of what it means to be a “global citizen” is something that we discussed leading up to the abroad. In order to better understand this idea, we developed our own working definition of global citizenship. As of February 2, 2017, Global Citizenship (to us) meant this:

“Taking responsibility to value and work towards justice through selflessness and love. A global citizen understands interconnectedness by embracing diversity.”

As Principians, we wanted our definition to represent principle, integrity, humility, cultural awareness, and love. We made it our mission to demonstrate global citizenship throughout our abroad experience—and in reflecting on the trip, I am certain that we succeeded in doing so.

As the abroad comes to an end, I can now say with confidence that I know Slovenia. When I say this, it is in recognition that what I know now is still only a small glimpse of its story. I have interacted with some of its most beloved authors, tasted its traditional cuisine, hiked through its mountains, marveled at its lakes and gorges, relaxed on its beaches, and wandered its winding city streets. I have studied Slovenia’s history, dipped my toes into its world of translation and publishing, discovered the importance of tradition, and seen the intermingling of languages and cultures unique to the former Yugoslav region. Through this experience, I have become a better global citizen. What more could I have asked for?



Brooke Engel is a sophomore at Principia double majoring in studio art and creative writing, with a minor in mass communication. Her Slovenian cultural research centered on Mt. Triglav National Park and Slovenes’ general love for the outdoors.


America through the eyes of Slovenes

Sophia Hathaway once described doner kebabs to me as “the greatest food in the history of ever.” A doner kebab is shaved chicken and/or beef in a grilled pita thing (that’s the best way I know to describe it) with any combination of onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, chili sauce, greek yogurt sauce, and thousand island as toppings. 

To my knowledge, our group has come to love eating doner kebabs. Gervais and Ellen love it because 10 of us can be fed for 25 euros (it’s a lot of food too…Europe is awesome). All of us love it because it tastes good and is ready quickly. And we’ve also found a favorite doner kebab stand with a friendly shop owner who now recognizes us after four trips.   

​“Ah, yes!! My American friends!! 10 kebab??” he energetically greets us as we walk up to the stand, a storefront on a busy street leading from the train and bus station to the city center. His voice just has that kind of energy that makes you happy when you hear it. He’s like a warm towel on the back of your neck after a haircut…soothing.

​When it’s my turn to add toppings onto my kebab, he asks me a question that I figure he knows the answer to, but I guess he needs confirmation.

​“You from America, no?” ​I laugh and tell him that yes, we are from America.

​“Ah yes!! America!! Go Chicago Bulls!! Haha!!”

​Chicago?? That’s what this dude knows about America?? Out of all the cities in America to know something about, Chicago?? At least he didn’t say go Cubs or go Blackhawks, but still, I was rattled that he dared to mention Chicago in my presence. (I was, of course, wearing my St. Louis Cardinals hat.) 

​While eating my kebab, though, I started thinking–my mom warned me about thinking after watching 101 Dalmatians, so I try my best not to do it. I started thinking about Slovenians and wondering what first came to mind when they thought about America.

​Was it Trump? Was it the Chicago (ew) Bulls? Was it cheeseburgers and shotguns? Was it our lord and savior Ryan Reynolds? What about sports? What did they know about American sports?

​During my extended talks with Slovenes, I’ve always made sure to ask the question, “What first comes to mind when you think of America?” Here are some answers that I got. They may surprise you.

Starting off our answer parade is Boštjan Hren, a local from Celje who Ellen met last year while visiting Slovenia and who graciously served as our unofficial tour guide for the day we spent in Celje. Picking up on the fact that I was a St. Louis Blues fan, Boštjan’s answer to my question revolved around his favorite hockey team, the Los Angeles Kings.

“Hey Ryan, do you remember the team that had a two games to zero lead on the Kings in the playoffs a few years ago, but then the Kings won?”

Unfortunately, I do remember because that team was the St. Louis Blues and I remember watching every second of that series. Moving away from the playoff failure of my favorite hockey team before I begin crying, I’ll admit Boštjan’s answer was interesting to me. He knew the Kings because of Anze Kopitar, the first Slovene to reach the NHL, and he rooted for them because of Kopitar. Likewise he cheers for the Miami Heat, who employ the only Slovene in the NBA, Goran Dragic.

​A few weeks ago, we visited a class at the University of Ljubljana, and I had a chance to ask this question to students from Ireland, Finland, and Slovenia.
 Among the answers that I got were typical responses that I was expecting, and a few that still have me thinking. ​

The Finnish student said he thought of Los Angeles and chicken strips because that is the only city he’s visited in America and chicken strips were the first American food he ever ate. The Irish student said she thought of seafood and surfing because she tried both of those things to Boston, the city she first thought of when thinking about Irish-Americans.

The Slovenian student said that she first thought of Native Americans and how misunderstood and mistreated they have been. I was fascinated by this answer because Native Americans aren’t close to the first thing to cross my mind when I think about America, yet students in a university 5,000 miles away from America think about Native Americans first. Needless to say, I was interested in every answer, but the Native Americans answer stuck with me and shows, to me, just how loving the Slovenian people are.

So, with all being said and done so far, here is America according to Slovenes (and other Europeans I’ve met in Slovenia): Los Angeles, chicken strips, the Los Angeles Kings, the Miami Heat, seafood, surfing, and Native Americans.

​Not too bad of a description, I’d say.



​Ryan Eisenauer, a sophomore, remains undecided about his major. However, his hobbies include writing—particularly about sports—watching sports, playing sports, thinking about sports, hanging out with his golden retriever puppy, and bothering Ellen. Ryan enjoys sports, so his cultural presentation is on sports in Slovenia…go figure.

Friday night Ljubljana style

They say that the Earth, without “art” is just “eh.” Having just left the beautiful mountains around Lake Bled full of natural beauty, we find ourselves back in the city. What might be just another Friday night in Ljubljana comes alive with performance art. Music dominates the small city streets, causing a cluster of people to gather. Despite no cars being allowed in the old part of the city, the number of people out enjoying the beautiful June evening combined with the array of musicians causes traffic all the same. Not traffic like the 405 in Los Angeles, but rather some you don’t mind getting caught in.

Café tables are full of diners at 8pm with people just starting their main courses as the sun hasn’t begun to yet set. The tables fill the cobblestone streets as usual, but now people, their belongings, and their dogs fill in the entire scene. All the while the locals on their bicycles weave professionally through the walkers, the millers, the restaurant and shop patrons, and they do so with deft skill and seeming ease.

From our gelato bar perch, this particular Friday night included a view of repurposed car seats that had been turned into a portable version of outdoor theater seating. A make-shift stage popped right up in front of a restaurant. The singer sang in English with a man accompanying her playing a marimba (like a wood xylophone). With the jazz/blues sound I heard in their performance, I could only marvel at their talent.

Walk a ways further and on the main street leading off of the Three Bridges to find a six-person band with three horns, a guitar, a singer, and a washboard (personal fave!) entertain the passers-by. Not your usual buskers for sure, but they pulled together quite the showing! Her voice was awesome, but in combination with the instruments of choice, it was just so pleasing to the ear.

After crossing the bridge and entering into the famous Prešeren Square, the usual accordion man was there. Such a traditional sound here, it still makes me smile and impresses me to the core. Having tried my hand at it for about five minutes two weeks ago, it made patting my head and rubbing my belly seem like child’s play. Two hands acting in complete independence with one’s arms also doing their own thing… How does the brain manage?! Plus he finds the time to smile! 

However, the best art I had the honor to witness this evening was the live reading of the compilation of our students’ sonnets. Having been studying world literature, especially focusing on Slovenian literature, they were tasked with following in Peršeren’s footsteps and turning their sonnets into a wreath. On stage and in public, these amateur poets shared their sonnets. In order to form a wreath, the last line of each sonnet has to then be the first line of the next sonnet. This requires a beautiful use of the English language to describe an idea that is a conclusion for one thought while simultaneously serving as a leaping off point for the next. The final sonnet also follows suit using the first line from the initial sonnet as its conclusion. This truly creates a circle, also known as a “heroic crown,” thus allowing a reader to theoretically start at any point. The first time I heard it, I cried. Literally. They were amazing. And tonight was even better. Maturity, grace, poise, intelligence and strength as the Principia students demonstrated their love for their new home, overflowing. 

There’s always a piece of art somewhere. Here in Slovenia it seems to simply be the way. And what a beautiful night as a result. Especially when dinner is gelato.  🙂



Nicole Gervais is serving as RCE on the abroad. She is a 2001 Principia College graduate and a soccer coach in the Athletic Department. She loves to learn new things, meet new people, see good photography, and laugh.

WWI and the Walk of Peace

Today found our group atop Slovenia’s mountains in the Julian Alps, admiring nature as well as historical remains. 

After an orientation at the World War I museum in Kobarid (Caporetto), we took a 20-minute bus ride on an alarmingly narrow road to the position of the Italians’ third line in that war. We then trekked behind Jaka, our local guide. I examined the trail beneath my tennis shoes, imagining the weary steps of Italian soldiers during WWI. This area, the Soča Front (better known in U.S. history books as the Isonzo Front), was fiercely fought over after Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.

The eerie fortifications and trenches were reconstructed in 2000. We learned about the functions of different rooms, such as ammunition storage, officers quarters, or a shelter tucked away 30 meters of solid rock below the artillery fire. In the eerie blackness, I once again attempted to picture the agonizing life of a soldier, to no avail. Maybe it is better for the death and destruction long ago to remain incomprehensible.

The path we walked actually represents the end of the senselessness I tried so hard to grasp. It’s part of the Walk of Peace, a trail that follows the River Soča and remnants of one of the bloodiest fronts during World War I. It serves to commemorate the soldiers on all sides that lost their lives, in addition to advocating the end of all wars and appreciation of unspoiled nature. Admiring the blue mountaintops, rolling hills, and quaint villages below, it was not hard to buy into its message.

With the help of our guide, we could identify the battle lines that were drawn about 100 years ago. Despite 11 intense battles launched by the Italians, these lines did not budge a millimeter. It wasn’t until Austro-Hungary launched a major offensive with their allies, the Germans, that they overtook the entire region . . . only to be driven out by the Italians later when the Austro-Hungarian empire fell.

What I really gained from this expedition is that the Slovenians (living mostly in the Austrian-Hungarian borders) were really caught in the middle of the monstrosity of World War I. And the effects of the war on the people of its valleys were almost worse than the war itself. Yet, who knows if Slovenia would be its own nation today if history hadn’t played out the way it did? I cannot say, but I do know that I felt honored to walk along the Walk of Peace, leaving with the mountains and a little more peace in my own heart.


Mesa Goebel is a global studies major with a focus in peace and conflict. She studied the Kurent Festival, a lively celebration of fertility and the coming of spring with mythological roots. She loves nature, outdoor recreation, and traveling!

Croatia flashback

For this post we will jump back in time for a moment to the city of Zadar.

Zadar is one of multiple little pockets of history within Croatia. The old part of the city has a medieval wall around it, which was originally built for defense from enemies. As a result of the wall, and the general size of the city and streets, most cars and buses are not allowed within. This meant we needed to get out of our comfy seats on the bus and hoist our luggage the 200 or so yards to the hostel. Thankfully, I packed light.

The next morning, we took a tour of the city with another fantastic and enthusiastic guide, Sime. We learned that the city was originally settled by the Illyrians more than 2,000 years ago. At one end of the city we were able to see three different pieces of wall; the innermost wall was the original built by the Illyrians when the city was established; the furthest wall out was the one that surrounds the city today, built in the 13th century; and the middle section was a tower built somewhere in the middle. We were also able to see a church built in the 5th century that now has a cute souvenir shop inside that sells local art and jewelry.

Later in the afternoon, we attended a graduate world literature class at the University of Zadar. The class had also read the English translation of A Castle in Romagna originally written by Igor Stiks and translated by Tomislav Kuzmanović and Russell Scott Valentino, which is a short novel that we had read in preparation for the abroad. It is also a novel that happened to be co-translated by the professor of the class, Tomislav. As a joint class we discussed the novel from our two different perspectives. We talked about why we thought the novel has been chosen to be republished by Amazon Crossing (Amazon’s translation branch) and what themes made it attractive to a global audience. We discussed the themes of hopping between time periods, war, and forbidden love, and how these would be attractive to readers on the global market. One local student voiced her opinion that she was tired of the Croatia constantly being connected to war in their literature because she feels it does not accurately reflect the current state of of the country.

In the end, it was a great discussion with a lot learned on both sides. It was exciting to talk about the book with other students with a completely different view on the topic, as well as one of the translators of the novel itself. Thank you for hopping back in time with me to a discussion about a novel that hops around in time.


Sami Corbitt is a junior English major with a focus in creative writing and a minor in dance. Her cultural studies presentation was on caves and karst in Slovenia. 

Classes in all shapes and sizes!

It’s absolutely awesome how learning happens. For me, I learn best in small groups, and even better when I’m out of a traditional classroom. Here I don’t officially fall under the category of “student,” but it has been amazing to watch our abroaders learn while also continuing to learn myself. We talk about what it means to be a “global citizen,” and it would seem to me that one of the best ways to embody that would be to constantly be growing, learning, striving for more. Our classrooms here in Slovenia change by the day while the topics cover (but are definitely not limited to!) the Slovene language, world literature, culture and history of the area (huge topic!), and even salsa dancing.

For me, attempting to learn the Slovene language is like trying to learn how to drive an 18-wheeler having never even ridden a bike. Having said that, our language class has been at the top of my list of favorite activities. Our teachers are incredible and, somehow, as if through magic, I’m actually learning! My little class of five with Anja as our teacher impresses me every time we meet.

The classroom with the Slovenian and Croatian professors and foreign students of the same age adds a different element. The lights are off and windows are open as the A/C does not seem to be used much in university classrooms. The local students seem as trepidatious and unsure of us as our students are of them–yet when grouped together, the talking becomes deafening with sharing of thoughts, ideas, similarities, and laughter. A true joy emanates from the professors when they see the human connection being made.

The Slovene Writers’ Association provided an small peek into what their group is about as well as the world of translation as a whole but also into the niche world of Slovene translation. With references to translation of TV shows, Harry Potter, John Grisham and, of all challenges, Dr. Seuss, we ventured off to get a better look for ourselves at the biggest book store in Ljubljana. What we all could agree on was how wonderful it would be to be able to speak another language so completely.

Back in the comforts of a hotel room, a café, or a park with just us, we hold small-sided discussions and debrief about articles/short stories and/or places and people we’ve seen. Talking about appreciating what we’re doing, who we’re talking to, and journaling about it all will aid in ensuring that it sticks with us long past our return to the States.

The culture and history element has been by far my favorite. Bundling up for a cold cave, putting on a bathing suit to test out the Adriatic Sea, envisioning storming castles and standing atop Roman ruins seem to be the favorite way to learn. Our guides have even included actors dressing up as characters to explain stories or important points. Sometimes their English has been good enough to make American cultural references to further explain something. With the city and personal interactions as our greatest teachers of all, it has been a delight to watch the students become more and more comfortable with being uncomfortable and with that, become truly comfortable. Buying cherries at the Saturday morning market and figuring out the milk dispenser in Ljubljana, having to speak with people in Croatia who don’t speak any English (while we speak no Croatian), or simply trying new foods without hesitation, these all add to the wonderfulness that traveling has to offer.

Just look at these faces of enthusiasm!

Experiential learning provides the intangibles that a classroom simply talks about. It is the picture to the words. And to watch as the students experience these firsts is like nothing else. I’m so grateful to be continuing my own education while also witnessing theirs.

Follow their example: step outside to learn.


The Croatian coast…and a book!

Our group awoke this morning and waved a nostalgic goodbye to Zadar, particularly the cute and sleepy old town, which is a peninsula on Croatia’s coast. It didn’t take us long to embrace our new destination: the quaint island of Rab. Although from our approach in the ferry it looked like a deserted, dry landmass surrounded by deep blue and clear waters, it’s actually a popular tourist destination that’s rich with history.

A walking tour lead by our guide, Minka, educated us about this Croatian paradise. Much of the architecture preserved in Rab today is from the late Middle Ages or later (1400s). It became a part of the Venetian State in 1409 and served as a main port. In medieval times, Rab Town’s population was around 8,000, a contrast to today’s little over 2,000. Later, Rab was part of the Austro-Hungarian Embpire, and many of its inhabitants actually left for Italy when Yugoslavia was awarded the island in 1921. 

An incredible fun fact about the city of Rab: there are three main streets followed by twelve minor streets. The twelve streets stand for the twelve months of the year; furthermore, each street has 365 cobblestones to signify the 365 days in a year! Talk about a master city planner.

The United States actually has a connection to the island. American actress Wallis Simpson married English King Edward VIII and visited the island in 1936. Due to his choice to marry a commoner, he had to abdicate the throne. But there remains a plaque on Rab to honor their famous visit.

Regarding the touristy aspect of the island, we found that its delicious restaurants and beautiful waterfront are phenomenal. Our group had a particularly bonding moment on the beach in the early afternoon. We made our way down to the water. After a little sunbathing and cautiously dipping our toes into the tide, several members of our group decided it was time for a swim. Upon wading knee-deep, however, we found plunging in was much more easier said than done. Minka had warned us: the Adriatic does not heat up in the summer at the same rate as the air. The height of the bathing season is in July. You can imagine it’s pretty frigid now, in late May.

We managed to brace ourselves and and enjoy the refreshingly crisp ocean. A pair of goggles enabled us to examine the sea life below, including fish, mussels, and sea urchins. Then we all lay out on a dock, much like a group of sunning seals. 

Rab holds a special place in many of our hearts, not only because of its beauty, but as a setting of a novel we read during the spring semester. A Castle in Romagna by Igor Štiks (translated by Tomislav Kuzmanović and Russell Scott Valentino) tells the story of a boy growing up on the island. His father was Italian and Tito’s break with Stalin in in 1948 meant the Italian families were no longer welcome. Ironically, the main character falls for the daughter of the new police chief in Rab. In the end, (spoiler alert), when the couple cannot be together, the daughter throws herself from the tallest and most beautiful tower of Rab to her death. It was a morbid but interesting connection to see that very tower when we visited the island. 

Although we were sad to leave the next morning, we are grateful to be blessed by Rab’s beauty and history. Back to our home base of Ljubljana!


Mesa Goebel is a global studies major with a focus in peace and conflict. She studied the Kurent Festival, a lively celebration of fertility and the coming of spring with mythological roots. She loves nature, outdoor recreation, and traveling!


Dark folk tales

Some of the most interesting conversations take place off to the side, with only a handful of people. There are people on this very abroad who weren’t able to hear about Slovene fairy tales from a tenured Slovenian poet. Let’s fix that now!

Ifigenija Simonović is a modernist poet, no rhymes no rules, as well as the president of the Slovene branch of PEN, an organization that defends the rights of writers worldwide. You might say it’s like amnesty international but for poets, essayists, novelists, and writers of all kinds. She encouraged us to gather the chairs in the cozy lecture hall of the Slovene Writers Association into a big circle. It made us feel more comfortable with asking questions as she took us through a wandering chat about everything from Slovene literary history to the rash of foreign coloring books that have swept through the nation just as forcefully as in the United States. 

After making a halting trip to the orange juice station at the back of the room, having stopped to chat briefly with everyone on the way there, she settled in for a series of bonus questions while we waited for our next lecturers (two translators) to arrive.

Jolee started the bonus round by asking if there were any domestic fairy tales. Ifigenija explained that Slovenia’s cultural and geographical landscape had given them access to the same Brothers Grimm tales we associate with Europe at large. Most original tales are either in a different format, like regional folk songs, or are so saturated with sad weight that we might not recognize them as common bedside tales. The most striking example were stories of infanticide. Constantly conquered by warring tribes and falling more than once into ethnic cleansing, this region has received a lot of attention regarding what to do in the aftermath of unwanted attentions.

This came as a bit of a shock to us, as we’d never heard such tales mentioned, which led Ifigenija to explain one of the most counterintuitive factoids about Slovene writers: some of them don’t want to be found. Translating is all well and good for the sake of Slovenian descendants in distant lands who have lost their mother tongue, but there’s not much point to trying to please the uncaring foreigner, she said; and besides, “Why should we share everything? We can’t! Let us have our treasures.”

Ifigenija is certainly a treasure, and I know her comments about the financial and physical dangers of writing in adverse times and places will bounce around in my head long after we return to the States. 

Speaking of the States, we can’t help showing a picture of the U.S. Embassy, a neighbor to the Slovene Writers’ Association.



Devon Izmirian is a mass communication major who was so excited about Slovenia and Croatia that she delayed graduating until the end of the summer. She researched the sleepy province of Prekmurje to present to the class, and she will be interning as an audio editor with JSH-Online this summer.

The little things

Today was a real day. A day where I walked by myself instead of in a pack, got lost, people watched, saw things, and did less touristy activities. 


It’s totally normal to buy a litre of milk stocked fresh in the morning. Drinking it between two people as they walk through a farmer’s market in a matter of 15 minutes might be a little less normal. Sophia and I bought a jar from a vending machine and watched the clear bottle fill with the heavenly, silky milk. Why there weren’t lines for it, I do not know. But daily fresh milk that is cold and so smooth? I can promise you, we’ll be back!


The venture down a few stairs into the fresh cheese, meat, and other dairies was also a delight. I lingered too long in front of one cheese case because no one was there so I figured I could look without pressure. Instead, a woman slid in seamlessly saying dobro jutro, good morning, in Slovene and then proceeded to offer us a taste in English. A lover of cottage cheese back home, I must apologize but I am not a fan of it here. Perhaps the fresh milk that still clung to my tastebuds rendered any other dairy taste helpless. She allowed us to try “young cheese” as she called it followed by a deliciously salty “older cheese.” She laughed with us when we asked her to repeat the name “older cheese” as it seemed a somewhat insufficient name for a cheese. Sophia and I agreed we would be back next week for some of that, providing we could find it. 


Later on after I went to the post office to exchange some money for the group (and had to write the amount needed down for the teller because numbers are hard), I decided to pop into the bookstore across the street. People had said Ljubljana is a small city, but I had envisioned (dare I say hoped?) it would be closer to Celje’s size. However, as I approached the glass doors, one of the few people I know outside our group, a university student we had met Thursday, happened to be walking out. Small it had suddenly become; a chance encounter that simply delighted me in making me feel at home. A few minutes of talking like old friends and we were both on our way again. 


And finally, of course, the whole challenge of walking in a pack is that the only dog whose view changes is the lead dog. This can lead to not 100% remembering where you’re going if you’re always bringing up the rear. Fortunately, despite not having seen many policemen previously, when I officially wasn’t sure where to go, I stumbled upon a car of three of them. They motioned haphazardly behind them and told me in Slovene where to go. I’m so grateful for the timing of our meeting or I may still be out wandering trying to find the group again…


Until next time…



Gervais is serving as RCE on the abroad. She is a 2001 Principia College graduate and a soccer coach in the Athletic Department.  She loves to learn new things, meet new people, see good photography, and laugh.