What to buy:
One of the more curious customs that has developed in Slovenia is the decoration of beehives. Decoration usually takes the form of painted panels on the front of the hive and you will find reproductions of the more famous panels on sale across Slovenia, which make interesting and original souvenirs.
The subject matter is fascinating and reflects the priorities, beliefs and prejudices of the community in which the panels were painted, as well as some historical events. One of my favourites include a hunting scene where the wild animals (deer, boar, bears and the like) have turned the tables on the hunter and are carrying him off, suspended by his hands and feet from a carrying pole. There is a strong mysogynistic theme to many of the panels which suggest that the artists were men - and unhappy men at that! The scene where the gossipy woman is having her tongue sharpened on a knife sharpener must have served as a salutory warning to errant wives and daughters, whereas the machine into which you feed in your old wife and get issued with a brand new, nubile and subserviant model at the other end is simply wishful thinking!
If this is a subject that interests you, then I can highly recommend a visit to the quirky bee keeping museum in Radovljica which boasts a large collection of these decorative panels (see my travel tip).
In Slovenia, you can buy the finest quilted bedding, all types of bedclothes (for children and adults), pillows, covers, sleeping bags etc. Slovene designers make sure those articles are made of finest materials. I wouldn't buy anything else, I allways look for these trademarks.
This year its 70-th aniversary since Odeja was established in 1932. Odeja in Skofja Loka is our biggest bedding producing industry and they have a lot of different lines to choose from (60 percent of their products is exported to the West). It is quite interesting that entire management of Odeja is run by women!
Also - there is a smaller company called Bount in Koper/Isola if you happen to be in this region. They have some nice blankets to choose from. I just recently bought one and its washable, made of pure cotton, light and great. Remember - the best way to get the best price is to buy at factories stores.
What to buy: You can buy some discounted products if you want to. If buying in Skofja Loka you can have a nice trip around Skofja Loka at the same time, visit the castle that is also very interesting - solve my riddle - what is on their blazon? Visit also the telecomunications museum in the other castle!
What to pay: 50-100 EUR / USD
BTC City is basically a huge area to the east of the city centre where you can buy practically everything from clothes to cars, from garden furniture to fruit and veg (there's dozens of stalls here). If you're after clothes then this is the place to come. Firstly there's Emporium which houses the upper end/fashion shops such as benetton, diesel, dorothy perkins, helly hansen, hugo boss, lacoste, levi's, polo ralph lauren, top man/shop etc. Then there's Dvorama A which houses 190 shops on 2 floors. Be careful in here as you can get disorientated. Then there's City Park which is a new shopping centre mall with 89 shops. I came here last one afternoon and stayed till about 8pm when I headed into Atlantis waterpark which is also on the site. It makes for a great evening out.
Vodnik Square lies to the east of St Nicholas Cathedral and features another market, (or is it an extension of the Central Market), full of fruit and veg stalls. The quality and quantity of the local produce looks very impressive. There are also a few clothes stalls towards the eastern side of the square near the Dragon Bridge.
If you're in Ljubljana on a Sunday morning then I certainly recommend taking a walk through the Flea Market. The market can be found on Cankarjevo nabrežje which runs between the Triple Bridge and Cobbler Bridge on the Old Town side of the river and starts at 8am until 2pm. You can find all sorts of items such as antiques, art pieces, furniture, kitchenware and general bric-a-brac but what the most interesting items for me were items and memorabilia from the former Yugoslav republic such as coins, banknotes, stamps, medals, uniforms and such like. It was like walking through an open-air museum and is well worth a stroll through on a sunny Sunday morning.
What to buy:
People think I am cynical because I prefer regular shopping to souvenir shopping. Look, I am not cynical, I am immensely romantic. When I put on a skirt I bought in Paris I think of the city of lights, when I swim in the swimming-suit I bought in Dubrovnik I recall the old citadel and the beautiful coast, and when I walk in the shoes I bought in Lisbon the narrow streets of Alfama and its melancholic fado songs come back to my memory.
I bought many quality clothes in Slovenia; in fact, those I bought in Croatia were made in Slovenia, too. I would recommend their woolen jackets and winter coats of 'Gorenjska Oblacija' make, 'Kroj' suits and blouses, 'Rasica ' knitwear and 'Peko' shoes.
'Peko' is my favourite. I had a pair of their shoes in bad old Soviet times. Mind you, the regime was bad, but the imported footwear was good, not the garbage our pioneers of wild capitalism bring into the country now. Year 2003 when I bought my second pair the factory celebrated its 100th year. I looked for comfortable and durable shoes for autumn mud and drizzle that would look ladylike, too. Besides, I have high instep, fancy Italian ballerinas do not attract me, I would rather go for Austrian shoe pattern, but not the price. All that I found in a small Peko shop in an equally small Venetian town Piran, just for $ 70. If I come to Slovenia again, I will definitely buy a third one. Too bad Slovenians do not reimburse me for sophisticated promotion.
What to buy:
Interesting beehive art - it is called Panjska koncnica. In the 18th and 19th centuries, farmers used the front panels of beehives to paint folk characters that represented Slovenian fables.
Sometimes the paintings were religious or educational, often humorous and satirical.
It's hard to find original Panjska koncnica, but you can buy copies which are beautiful too.
What to buy: Skrinjica is a small version of chest in which people used to keep different things - clothes,bed linen,toys... It is decorated with typical Slovene ornaments - pinks, motives from hives - panjska koncnica...
This is far and away the best shop in Ljubljana for handicrafts. They have the usual local products (bobbin lace, wood carving, linens, ceramics), but the selection is better than anywhere else in town, and their prices are reasonable. In addition, they have one-of-a-kind pieces from local and regional artists -- I came in to look for gifts for my friends and relatives, but I also bought a wonderful engraving for myself.
The staff is pleasant and helpful: I bought a lot of fragile items that I didn't want to carry around all afternoon, so the clerk said she'd take care of them, and when I came back later they were wrapped and waiting for me.
What to pay: Some of the simpler wood carvings were quite reasonable, $5 and up, while the original art works were higher (engravings were in the $75-150 range).
It has English books!
So does it's other branch at Miklosiceva Cesta 40 opposite the bus station.
If you are looking for travel guides in English try: Kod and Kam , trg Frankoske Revolucije 7
What to buy: All the books shop I went in had some English books. This made me very happy.
There were also lots of Teaching books for Tefl teachers. Which was great for me as at the time I was living in a town in Spain with no English books.
What to pay: A reasonable price.
Central Market - Ljubljana
What to buy: If you don't have time to make it to the museum of bee-keeping in Radovljica, then head over to the market in Ljubljana and get yourself a few of these beehive art panels.
There's religious subjects, some history lessons, but the best are the folk tales featuring gossiping housewives or forest animals holding a funeral for the local hunter. You can usually get the person selling them to give you a little background information or translate some of the language.
They come in about a half dozen sizes, the largest being 4"x12".
What to pay: $2-$10
When in Slovenia do not fail to buy fresh food products: fruits, vegetables, milk... anything. Whenever you see a sign - go food shopping. Maybe it's because of the lack of pollution, maybe it's because of the fertile ground.. I don't know.. but everything tastes much different than at home
What to buy: My very favourite are still the strawberries from Ljublijana veggie and fruits market
What to pay: very little
All bookshops are interesting, but beware - books are very expensive in Slovenia.
What to buy: A recently published book that is invaluable for any English speaking people who has little or no knowledge of the Slovene language: "The Slovene Phrase book" by Nika Fon Leben & Charles I Abramson. ISBN 961-238-045-7 It is set out in chapters according to contexts eg. In the restarant, at the train station etc. with basic vocabulary and phrases.
What to pay: I paid 2000 tolar (9 Euro) for mine in October 2002 from the vestbule in Austrotel, Miklosiceva 9, Ljubljana.
Many tourist opened farms in Slovenia offer home made products! In this case, the apples were squeezed into juice one autumn day in Dolenjske Toplice (spa). You could buy 5 liters of juice to be consumed in a week or so (without preservatives), but they were selling bottled juice also - you can see the bottle on the picture with more info. I am so sorry we now run out of this juice! It was great! I think we will go to the farm for more.
What to buy: Dried apple, pear and apricot pieces, wine, cheese, juice ...
What to pay: For 50 euro (in Slovenian tolars) you can get nicely packed gifts for your big family. Plus 10 liters of apple juice ...
Majolka is a jug made of clay. It is decorated with tipical Slovene ornaments . It is used for drinking water, wine, milk ...
Located a stone's throw away from Ljubljanica river, the main square & the famous Three Bridges....more
Highly recommended, friendly host, excellent (optional) dinners at the hotel, for example four...more
Piran is very small and accordingly has very few hotels, Hotel Tartini was listed as the nicest...more
More Regions in Slovenia