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Travelling in Slovenija

Slovenija, like Croatia a former part of Yugoslavia lies just under Austria. The country escaped the civil war after Yugoslavias' fall with very few losses in life and infrastructure. Also the ethnic cleanups didn't happen here. As it was always the richest part of Tito's republic it now has a similare standard of living as his northern neighbour Austria. If you just look at the land and people you will have a hard time to notice any differences.

General mentality, cleanliness and friendliness are very close to Austria. German is spoken everywhere, english or french may pose problems but nothing unsurpassable as the country relies a lot on tourism. There are still much less foreign visitors than before the war and I thank God for that. But numbers are increasing every year.

Getting in and around

For crossing the border you have several options.

You will probably enter the country by the E61, the Motorway over Villach that crosses the border in the "Karawankentunnel". This hole in the wall is 7864 meters long and you have to pay before entering. Toll is collected just after the boundary controls. Credit cards are accepted. A strict speed limit is enforced in the tunnel. Leaving the other side you will reach the first filling station after less than 5 Km on your left or shortly before on the right, near the southern border station. Using the tunnel is by far the fastest way but sometimes if traffic is heavy jams are possible. Though it's the easiest way if you have a caravan.

Some other possibilies: If you wish you can use the Loiblpass which is free but is off limits for caravans and trailers. The same for the Wurzenpass, an interesting small tarmac road with 18% uphill sections.

If you have a caravan/trailer and don't want to pay for the tunnel drive on the austrian Motorway into Italy. Immediately after the border at the exit Tarvisio take the SS54, direction Fusine and Slovenija. It crosses the mountains at a very low pass and is excellent for heavy loads. Not too much traffic either. First filling station soon after crossing the border.

Another possibility is taking the SS54 in the direction of Predil and Bovec (SLO). This road goes south and crosses the Paso de Predil at 1150 meters, not recommended with caravans. On this road the first filling station is at Bovec, just south after the town - but it's all downhill until there...

Of course there are many small passages over the borders and they are all open to public travel nowadays. No more problems on small border stations than on the larger ones.

The dreaded "Autoput" Austria-Ljubljana-Zagreb is now much improved. This stretch of road used to be the main way for all the traffic from Europe to Greece and Turkey. It was ok down to Austria but after that it narrowed to a 2-lane road. It is told that there were so many deaths over the years every hundred yard marker had it's own victim. Luckily this changed and there's only a few miles left of this old 2-lane road before Ljubljana. Motorway construction is slowly going on however.

You must still cross Ljubljana for a short stretch, see the green line on the map left. Take care, the Motorway ends after a tunnel at traffic lights and you have to turn 90° left as the raccording stretch of Motorway isn't ready yet.

About a mile after the traffic lights on on the large boulevard you will see an Land Rover dealership on your left.

If you continue to Postonja with it's impressing caves you have to turn right at one moment. It's signposted well but you must stay in the right lane, turn right and then cross an exit road to move onto the Motorway. No big deal if traffic is light.

Road manners

Slovenijan drivers do it rather peacefully. Though you will sometimes encounter the usual bonehead who tries to force his way it's not common practice. Speed is generally quite high and if you use to admire the landscape at snails pace better let the others pass. Motorcycles ALWAYS overtake. The car pool consists mostly of new middle-class cars with some older Zastavas and Fiats trown in to spice it up. Lorries pose no problems, they are allmost all new and of western makes (not like some 10 years ago when it was a horror driving up a mountain road).

Police is quite present with modern equipment. Sensible speeding outside villages is often tolerated. It's not unusual to find 2 or even 3 radar controls in the same town.

Many roads to exceptional places are toll roads and not too cheap. Although I understand the argument of needing the money for maintaining the road but it neithertheless is annoying to get money torn out of your pocket for every better mule path you want to use. I hope many people will turn their back to this practice.

Touristic tips

I like the area around Bohinjska Bistrica and Bled. It lies only an hours drive from the Austrian frontier. Bohinjska Bistrica has a nice, clean campsite. The village has some shops where you can buy food etc.

Greenlaning, general rules

Driving off any tracks is forbidd. en. But many secondary roads are still gravel roads. All you need is a good map. But even on those maps not all tracks are shown. There used to be almost no interdictions but this year I noticed some signs forbidding access for motorcyles! These are surely put there for abuse. So if you use those unusual roads do it slowly, don't churn up the ground and so on.

General interdictions concern the national parks. If you get caught inside those you will have a bad day.

As the gravel tracks are used as public roads you must be very careful. They are mostly only one lane wide and many are used for logging transports. It's no fun encountering an upcoming overloaden lorrie who runs way too fast for the soft ground. In that case dive for the nearest border. Those logging roads are usually signposted as such but it may not be obvious to those not understanding slovenijan...

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