Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Central Market in Ljubljana, Slovenia

If you are visiting Slovenia, time your trip to coincide with the charming Central Saturday Market in Ljubljana; the Mecca of, and the best place to indulge in, local Slovenian food. Traditionally, it has also been a place for locals to meet and enjoy each other’s company.

The market is open from 08:00 to 16.00 every day but Sunday, all year round. However if you want to experience its full diversity, be there on Saturday before 13:00. From the statue of Slovenia’’s most famous poet, France Prešeren, just cross the famous Triple bridge, turn left along the river and you will find yourself captured by the market’s lively atmosphere and mouthwatering smells. It spreads along the beautiful Ljubljanica river, all the way to Dragon’s bridge. Both bridges, and the fabulous surrounding architecture in the central area, are Renaissance-influenced. Designed by the most renowned Slovenian architect, Jože Plečnik, between 1940 and 1944.

The Central Market consists of an open-air marketplace, located in the Vodnikov and Pogačar squares; a covered market, situated between the two squares; and various small shops along the riverbank. The market’’s stone facade with big curved windows and graceful classical columns are typical of Plecnik’’s architectural style.

Open air market, Ljubljana

Mouthwatering local produce from Slovenia

Local people sell an abundance of wonderful produce inside, underneath and in between the beautiful arcades. Every taste can be fulfilled, from meat lovers to vegans, there is plenty of choice for everybody; seasonal and organic fruit and veggies; homemade yogurt and cottage cheese; freshly baked bread; dry-cured meats; flowers; herbs; spices; olive and pumpkin seed oil; and a variety of nuts. The traditional, open air pizzeria will seduce you with delicious whole grain bases, prepared by skillful bakers, right in front of your eyes. Just opposite the pizzeria, downstairs in the arcades you will find ‘the ‘Ribarnica’’ (fish market), a true seafood lovers paradise. All sorts of fresh fish and beautiful wonders of the sea are present. My personal highlight is the vegan cake stall where you can find many healthy and delicious deserts and biscuit.

Open air pizzeria, Ljubljana, Slovenia

A big section is devoted to local art and crafts, blankets, baskets and souvenirs. Often, Balkan musicians play and make the atmosphere even more charming. The Pogačar square sometimes is host to different themed events featuring homemade culinary delights, local farm produce, and organic foods offered by Slovenian farmers from various regions.

Visiting the market is guaranteed to put you in a great mood for the day and gives you the perfect opportunity to practice your Slovenian.

Slovenian Festivals and Events all Year Round

There are several Slovenian festivals and events which take place every year. Cultural, musical and sport events are top a list.

Cultural and musical Slovenian festivals and events

Rock Otočec

Rock Otočec is a musical 3 day festival which take place every year in July near the city of Novo mesto, in the Dolenjska region. It was first held in 1976. There are different stages, where Slovenian and foreign music groups perform. It’s also famous for mud which people throw themselves into. The festival presents freedom, youth, and joy; similar to hippy movement. The visitors are mostly young people, who like rock music, lot of drinks and nudity. This year it took place in Ljubljana, to take advantage of a larger venue.

A mud bath at the biggest Slovenian festivals, Rock Otočec

A mud bath in Rock Otočec

Kurentovanje na Ptuju

The biggest cultural-ethnographic event is Kurentovanje na Ptuju (Kurents Carnival in Ptuj). It’s  a winter carnival, which takes its place in February, where all kinds of carnival masks are presented. The most famous and authentic is Kurent (called also Korent), who is supposed to persecute the winter and bring on spring. Around 100,000 visitors attend the event each year.

Kurent masks

Kurent masks 

Pivo in cvetje

Pivo in cvetje (literally ‘Beer and Flowers’) is an ethnographic musical touristic festival, which takes place every year in the little town of Laško, since 1963. Laško is famous also for its brewery, with the eponyomus beer trade mark. You can enjoy many events, such as musical performances from Slovenia and abroad, parades, sport games, floral expositions, and of course beer. It ends traditionally with a firework display.

Pivo in cvetje

Pivo in cvetje

Ljubljana Festival

Ljubljana Festival is a cultural artistic festival. Each summer there are a lot of musical, artistic, cultural open-air events in Kongresni trg and in Križanke. It’s definitely an eyeful for those who just promenade through the centre of Ljubljana and especially on warm summer nights it conjures a stunning atmosphere. I really like this time of the year in Ljubljana. The performances take place during the week, during the whole summer.

An event in Kongresni trg in Ljubljana

An event in Kongresni trg in Ljubljana

Festival Lent

Another cultural musical folk festival in the second biggest Slovenian city Maribor, is called Festival Lent . It takes place at the end of June till the beginning of July. There are around 500.000 visitors each year. It is the largest outdoor festival in Slovenia, with a different performances, such as jazz, operas, ballets, folklore and many sport events. Performing artists come from all over the world.

Festival Lent

Festival Lent

Sporting events

As Slovenians are very keen on sport, so it’s no wonder there are so many sporting events, in which people can participate. Major and international events are Zlata lisica (‘Golden fox’),  World Cup in rowing (it took place in 2011 in Bled) and the Ski jumping world cup.

Zlata lisica

Zlata lisica is an international skiing competition (slalom) for the World Cup for women. It takes place in Mariborsko Pohorje, near to Maribor, in January or February. A winner gets a trophy ‘Golden fox’. This year our skier Tina Maze won the slalom competition.

Zlata lisica

Zlata lisica

Ski jumping world cup

The Ski jumping world cup takes place every year in Planica in March. It’s a very popular sporting event in Slovenia.

This year Slovenia also hosts the European basketball championship (Evropsko prvenstvo v košarki) in September.

Ljubljana marathon

Slovenians take massive part in marathons, like in Ljubljanski maraton (Ljubljana marathon), which is a running marathon, and Maraton Franja, which is a cycling marathon. Latter takes place in the beginning of June, and Ljubljana marathon in October. It’s a great experience, I participated in Ljubljana marathon on a high school level the first time, and it was really fun.

Ljubljanski maraton

Ljubljanski maraton

Maturantska parada

Another event it seems good to mention, is Maturantska parada (Quadrille Dance). In many Slovenian and European cities, the graduates dance četvorka, ‘quadrille’, exactly at midday on the streets. It takes place every May. It’s all about having fun, music, dance and a relaxing atmosphere. After the dances, a Quadrille Dance continues with a party with electonic music stage in Gospodarsko razstavišče. The graduate girls have orange T-shirts and boys black ones. They get also umbrellas and whistles. They whistle loudly, so if you’ll be around at that time, protect your ears!

Maturantska parada in Ljubljana

Maturantska parada in Ljubljana

Well, I have presented quite a lot of Slovenian festivals and events. Our small country has a lot of interesting ones, something for everyone. There are a big number of culinary and wine festivals too, which I’ll concentrate on in future posts.

Slovenian Grammar and Culture: A Quick and Funny Introduction

Slovenian Grammar

I gathered together some interesting facts about Slovenian grammar and culture, to bring you closer to this beautiful language.

Let’s begin:

  • Slovenian is older than the country of Slovenia, which was created in 1991. The oldest writings in Slovenian are Brižinski spomeniki (Freising Manuscripts), which are more than 1,000 years old. They are also the first Latin-script in Slavic language.
  • Our language has three special letters (known also in other Slavic languages), Č, Š and Ž. We pronounce them like, Č as in the word cherry, Š as show, and Ž as measure.
  • Slovenian is a phonetic language (we mostly speak as we write, this means, one letter-one sound). It is similar to other Slavic languages and Italian.
  • Slovenian is a romantic language: we have dual (in addition to singular and plural) for referring to two people or objects. Using dual, it is clear how many people you refer or speak to.
Slovenian grammar: dual

Onadva sta zaljubljena. (They both are in love.)

  • Slovenians are happy if somebody try to speak their language. But as we also like foreign languages, don’t be surprised if they will answer you back in English. I am very proud when I hear some foreigners trying to speak Slovene, so don’t be shy to try!
  • Slovenian is a polite language: we have two versions to addressing someone (formal and informal). A formal form (‘vikanje’) is used when addressing adults, people you don’t know, in business situations, younger people to older ones. A formal form expresses respect and it is more polite. A formal form first appeared in French (‘vous’). We present it the same as French people, using the 2nd person plural, ‘vi‘. An informal form (‘tikanje’) is used when addressing family members, friends, people you know well, children, young people between themselves. If you have doubts which form to use, I suggest you to use the formal one. You can’t miss. Myself, I usually address in a formal way, and then some people tell me not to use the formal way, because they feel old. But anyway, it’s an expression of politeness if using it.
Slovenian Phrase English Translation Use
Kako vam je ime? What’s your name? formal
Kako ti je ime? What’s your name? informal

The polite formal version is sometimes written with a capital letter, ‘Vi’, which expresses really extreme respect, and it’s surprisingly often used.

  • Good news, Slovenian has only three tenses, past tense, present tense and future tense. In the past it had four tenses, including past perfect tense. Nowadays we don’t use it anymore. It appears just in the literature. Past and future tenses are simple to build.
  • Past tense: jaz sem delal (I worked)
  • Present tense: jaz delam (I work)
  • Future tense: jaz bom delal (I will work)

Past and future participles are the same (‘delal‘). In present tense we conjugate verbs. In past and future tenses we conjugate auxiliary verb ‘to be’ and add a participle, which also expresses a gender and number.

  • Slovenian has 3 genders, masculine, feminine and neuter. The neuter gender is known also in German (article ‘das‘). In Slovenian we recognize it because of the -o and -e endings of the nouns.
    • jabolko (an apple)
  • Slovenian has no articles! So there is no confusion as to which article to put before a noun. The answer is none.
  • Slovenian supports gender equality. As well as the masculine form, there is a special form to express the feminine gender, recognisable by its -a ending (verbs, adjectives, nouns, pronouns). Almost all the professions are in the feminine form, too.
    • Feminine: Rada bi šla na morje. (I would like to go to the seaside.)
    • Masculine: Rad bi šel na morje. (I would like to go to the seaside.)

For the end, I saved a hard nut to crack, cases.

I won’t lie, they are not so simple, also Slovenians sometimes incorrectly decline nouns (mostly in spoken language). But anyway, we will understand you in every case, even if you don’t decline properly. Cases are known also in other languages, such as Latin, Sanskrit, Russian (and other Slavic languages) Icelandic, Finnish. So, if you come from any of these language groups, you probably know what I am talking about. In one of the previous blog posts we introduced an example of all 18 variations of the word ‘frog’.

Here is an example of a declension of the word ‘hiša’, ‘house’, in singular, feminine.

Case Declension
nominative hiša
genitive hiše
dative hiši
accusative hišo
locative pri hiši
instrumental s hišo
Brižinski spomeniki - the oldest writing in Slovenian

Brižinski spomeniki – the oldest writing in Slovenian

Slovenian Culture

  • When they meet, Slovenians usually don’t kiss and hug (maybe just some people, usually young ones). Hand shaking is expected. Yes, Slovenians are more reserved about this, but if you come from some more temperamental culture, don’t worry, I am sure they won’t shrink away, if you’ll try to kiss them on cheeks. It would be nice to be more open about this.
  • Regarding gestures, Slovenians are more stiff, they are not lively with their hands, like Italians, for example. We are considered to be calmer, reserved and polite nation. You probably will not see Slovenians dancing on the streets.
  • Our speech is neither loud nor too quiet, something in the middle.
  • Don’t worry, you won’t be a witness of a culture shock, when you will come in Slovenia. Maybe it can be a shock just to those, who are used to more temperamental environment.
  • Slovenia is considered to be a safe country, without a fear you can promenade in the middle of the night on the streets. Because of the empty streets at late night, Ljubljana is called also ‘zaspana Ljubljana‘, ‘sleepy Ljubljana‘.
  • Don’t be surprised if you visit someone at home, and they give you slippers to put on. We like to keep our apartments clean.
  • Also, don’t be surprised if somebody invites you to lunch and you share a salad from the same bowl. I know that foreigners laugh at this, but it’s a Slovenian feature. Definitely we save time when washing the dishes. But the things are changing here, too, I prefer to have my own bowl, so nobody can snatch my favourite morsel of salad.
  • In Slovenia nodding means ‘yes’ (‘ja‘) and shaking the head means ‘no’ (‘ne‘).
  • You have an opportunity to practice Slovenian also while watching foreign films, which are not dubbed. We have subtitles.
  • A phrase ‘Na zdravje!‘ means ‘Cheers!‘, and ‘Bless you!‘, literally ‘To your health!
  • And something about romantic matters: giving compliments is not usual among Slovenians (this does not apply to everybody, there are exceptions), but they like to hear them. Well, if somebody accepts and thanks you for a compliment, depends on the person. You can’t miss by using a magic word ‘Hvala‘, ‘Thank you‘.
  • Other magic words are also ‘Prosim‘, ‘Please‘ or ‘You are welcome‘ or ‘Hello‘ (when picking up the phone), and ‘Oprostite‘, ‘Excuse me‘.
  • Slovenians are usually punctual considering business meetings and also private meetings. I don’t suggest to be late on a date, you can make a bad impression.
  • In my opinion, we are hospitable with our compatriots and foreigners.

Source: Pocket Slovene (Žepna slovenščina)

Maybe you heard some other stereotypes about Slovenia or Slovenians. I will be glad to hear some you might have heard of too. You can share them in the comments below. 🙂