Sunday, February 23, 2014

Love Around the World with Bridie Hall

Please welcome the last hostess of our Olympics themed feature, Evernight Teen author Bridie Hall! Takes us to your corner of the world, Bridie!

All ice skating competitions from Sochi could be moved to Slovenia this week since the entire country is covered in ice. Trees are cracking under the weight of the sleet, roads are closed, people are without electricity, some without water supply. But underneath the ice, Slovenia has plenty of natural attractions to offer.

Just for comparison, the country is slightly smaller than New Jersey, and there are only 400.000 more Slovenians than there are Manhattanites.

Positioned in Central Europe (we don’t like it if you say we’re in Eastern Europe. We’re snobbish like that.), we have a selection of everything: the sea, the mountains, vineyards, lakes, caves. A large part of western Slovenia has the Karst topography and the name for the Karst phenomena actually comes from this region, named Kras or Karst. There are plenty of caves in this region. The Skocjan caves are on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, and the Postojna cave is the most visited cave in Europe.

In the same area, you can also visit the Lipica stud farm that is home to the unique breed of Lipizzaner horses that the Spanish Riding School uses in the classical dressage performances. The stud farm was established in 1580.

In Ljubljana, our capital, you can stay in a prison cell in the Hostel Celica. An old prison has been renovated as a hostel; each of the 20 rooms decorated by a different artist. Eighty artists from all over the world were involved. Staying in Celica (eng. cell) is a unique experience.

World’s largest ski jumping hill is located in Planica. Visitors have witnessed over 60 world records so far. Up until 2011, the world record set in Planica by Bjorn Einer Romoren was 239 meters (260 yards).

One of the most charming places to visit in Slovenia is Lake Bled with the only Slovenian island. On it, there is a small church where couples can get married. The groom must carry the bride up the 99 steps from the dock to the church in order to ensure a long and happy marriage. If he fails, he can also ring the church bell at the top and his wish might come true anyway.

The Slovenian language is one of the most archaic languages in the world. It is also one of the rare ones that has the dual number. Our love poetry is never crowded with ‘us’, it’s just you and I. Slovenian also has the largest number of dialects (32) given the number of inhabitants. (We speak three different dialects in my family, for example.) Slovenia is a paradise for linguists.

As for the food and wine, our cuisine is a combination of the Balkan, Mediterranean, and Central European influences. Our traditional dishes are mostly one-pot meals, such as various stews and Minestrone. We have over 40 different regional cuisines, depending on the local landscape and culture. There are also 28,000 wineries in Slovenia, approximately one per every 70 people. Most of the wine is consumed domestically. That explains why our anthem is actually a drinking song.

We have some strange habits too. When visiting, you’ll be asked to take your shoes off before entering someone’s house. Don’t discuss politics or religion with us, especially if alcohol is involved (which it usually is, see above). Hitchhiking is the preferred way of the young to get around and is still relatively safe. And we’ll be super impressed if you learn a few Slovenian words and say hello in our language. So – zdravo.

Bridie Hall is the author of LETTING GO from Evernight Teen.

Isabelle is left stranded at the airport, and her only chance of getting home is with her boyfriend’s older brother, Harper. When this good girl and bad boy set off towards home, it turns out that maybe she’s not such a good girl after all. And even bad boys have reasons for their bad behavior.  

The road trip is full of shocking revelations and unexpected emotions, bringing the two of them closer than Isabelle ever thought possible. Maybe too close.

14+ due to sexuality and adult situations


Carlene Love said...

Hi Bridie! That was fascinating! As a kid my mom took me to see the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions whenever they came to San Diego. I had no idea they dated back to 1500's and Slovenia. I'll have to share that with her. Thanks for this cool peek at your beautiful Slovenia. Zdravo!

Jennifer said...

That was a great article, and I can't wait to read your book, it sounds wonderful!