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August 10, 2002

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We spend half our day figuring out how to say it, the other half seeing it; Ljubljana takes the prize for the name of a capital that no English speaker can spell or say. But if you can get over the pronunciation problems, you'll find that Slovenia is the easiest country to visit of the former Communist Bloc. Slovenia has an economy as strong as Greece or Portugal; it's producing more GDP per head than other Eastern European country, and it supports several different beer companies with decent market share abroad; the rest of ex-Yugoslavia drinks Slovenian beer. Ever since Slovenia fell out of Yugoslavia's nest in 1991 (the smallest of Yugoslavia's states), it's been able to keep itself outside of the conflicts that have afflicted Yugoslavia's alumni. No traces of Communism remain. Most people speak English (or are willing to help), signs are bilingual, and the architecture shows Austrian or Italian influence. This place is Western Europe at better prices, a short hop from Venice or Vienna.
Ljubljana sits on the sunny side of the Alps. It's a clean, orderly, almost provincial (pop. 330,000).
Dragons protect Ljubljana from the crowds, it's a secret tourist spot in Europe and an antidote from the hordes of Prague.
A slow river, the Ljubljanski, runs through old town.