I clearly remember my outrage a few years back when an American travel journalist said to me that Slovenia had a “very Habsburg vibe”. Those were her exact words and her obvious ignorance stunned me. How could she not see that our country is not just some insignificant part of a former empire lacking its own character? Only someone observing from space station could say that Slovenia and Austria are basically the same. Coming from a person whose work consists of getting to know all the intricate details of countries and cultures around the world this statement sounded even more insensitive.
It took me all this time up until our recent visit to Salzburg to realise what she meant. The first glimpse of the castle overlooking the old city and I already felt familiar.
From that moment on every step revealed another similarity:
Crossing the Makartsteg bridge with all these locks reminded me of the Butcher’s bridge in Ljubljana.
Streets in the centre of Ljubljana are equally pretty and for sure there’s a church tower somewhere in sight.
If someone beamed me up straight to the Festungsberg hill I would have trouble finding out where exactly I am. Ljubljana would be one of my first guesses.
Just like Salzburg which boasts five hills there are several hills in Ljubljana, too. Mind you, we also have tunnels under them.
What you will never see in Ljubljana, though, is people wearing folk costumes as their Sunday best.
Nor will you find shops selling such outfits.
Or street musicians playing mountain hut music (if you don’t know what I mean, listen to the background music at one of the Austrian web cam channels showing current weather conditions on ski slopes).
So what am I trying to say? Yes, Salzburg and Ljubljana do look alike. I guess you could also say that for Austria and Slovenia. But despite sharing a part of common history there are also many differences that deserve to be explored. So go ahead, visit both places and compare for yourself.