Slovenians seem to be quite hard-working and busy during the week, so it would make sense to think that they will take it easy in their spare time. And so they do, but probably only when it rains. All other weather conditions are a perfect excuse to hit the road and engage in some kind of outdoor activity.
The Slovenian way of dealing with spare time seems to be almost opposite to the Cypriot preferences. I clearly remember strolling along the coast in Limassol, trying to find Cypriots to talk to. Only to be told that I should head for the caf?s in town, because no Cypriot would think of filling spare time walking around. How different is today`s arrival in the provincial Slovenian town of Celje. I find the city centre completely empty and get told that I`d rather look for people in the park, walking around and enjoying the sunshine.
..thinks you can do a lot with your time of you organise well
The landscape of Slovenia makes a perfect setting for active sports. It has many different types of landscapes, which are perfectly suitable for hiking, climbing, rafting, canoeing, adrenaline sports, survival, cave exploration and whatever else comes to mind. All within less than two hours from Ljubljana, which is located roughly in the middle of the country.
Like many of the Slovenians I speak to, Andrea (23, photo) has a whole list of sportive hobbies. `I like skiing, cycling, playing basketball and playing volleyball. Which hobby I choose to spend time on depends on the weather. If it`s rainy, I`ll stay in bed and watch TV, or listen to music`, she says. Andrea thinks that the main reasons for people to spend so much time on sports is to stay healthy and to enjoy nature. `Many Slovenians own sport bikes. They won`t use their bikes to get to work, but they will use it during the weekends to go on tours.` In reply to my question whether she does not get tired of always being busy ? working, studying and being active during her spare time ? she replies that it`s just a matter of organising. `The only moment I relax by doing nothing is when I leave on holiday, to Greece or to Croatia. At all other moments, I`ll find something active to do, as long as the weather allows`, she says.
Dusan (25) is also dividing his time over a great number of activities. He is currently combining the contruction of his own house, working at his father`s chicken farm, riding his motorcycle and playing volleyball, tennis and/or squash. `There`s an activity for every kind of weather`, Dusan says, explaining that he will spend the odd rainy weekend day to stay in bed with his girlfriend, sleep long, watch some TV and enjoy each other`s company. `This is the kind of thing that`s more suitable for the Sundays. Out of the two weekend days, I mostly use Saturday for being active.`
Matea (22) makes time for her hobbies by sleeping only short nights. Her main hobby is training her two dogs, but she equally enjoys doing gymnastics, playing basketball and take cooking classes. All of that combined with a job at the sorting department of the post office and her studies in the field of logistics.`
Tamara (25) is practicing oriental dance. She tells me that the current trend for young people is to go bowling: `It`s a relatively new sport, not too expensive and a little more interactive than going to the cinema. It`s an alternative to the party nights at people`s places, where people gather to drink, watch a DVD, and play cards.`
Hiking is probably the Slovenian hobby number 1 for the warm seasons, while skiing and snowboarding dominate the list of winter activities. Nina (32) likes to go shopping in Italy, but otherwise finds hiking and cyclying the perfect way of relaxing after a stressful week of work. `It`s the fresh air, the birds singing,.. I like to walk in hilly environments, more than doing the rough climbing. Slovenia has many organisations that put together hiking activities for groups. They will announce the hike they have in mind, then people can sign up if they think they are fit enough to join that particular hike. Klavdija (26) thinks it`s easier to gather a group of people for a hike than for pretty much any other collective activity.`
Dominik (24) prefers to snowboard his way through the mountains, while Matija (22) is more of a hiking fan. `I usually don`t have a lot of time to travel, so I prefer to stay in Slovenia rather than travel abroad. My favourite place is the Logarska Valley, which has tops of 2500m over valleys of about 800m altitude. I like hiking, I like to go cycling on my mountain bike, and apart from that, I enjoy eating out in restaurants. Those are the three activities that consume most of my free time.`
Marcel (30) represents the minority of Slovenians who prefer to spend their free time indoors. `I am not one of those mountain marchers. It`s actually a miracle that you find me outside right now. During weekdays, I always need to be around my computer, just because I work as an administrator. Outside working hours, I enjoy playing Visual Utopia on the computer. It`s quite a strange working pattern. Let`s say I only work for about 15 minutes every two hours, but I do need to be available all the time.`
Marcel further tells me that few Slovenians have the chance to work parttime or on a freelance basis. Working on Sundays is very uncommon too. Slovenian shops typically close their doors on Saturday afternoon at 2, only to open again on Monday. `Only the big mall is opened, and the people there are the only ones who work. Pretty much everybody else uses the weekend to get active.`
Grega (25) is one of the few people who does not forget to mention another big hobby of the Slovenians: drinking and socialising with a group of friends ? in Grega`s case complemented by basketball.
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