We’re just an hour or so away from another World Cup kickoff here in the central (central!) time zone, so what better time to learn up on Team USA‘s Group C opponent: Slovenia? (If you’re away from a TV, don’t forget to check out our Guide to Watching the World Cup Online for Free.)
The first thing you should know is that it’s Slovenia, not Slovakia. Slovenia is immedieatly east of Italy along the Mediterranean coast and was once a part of Yugoslavia. Slovakia is a landlocked country in Central Europe that borders Poland and is half of what used to be Czechoslovakia. So yes, similar names, both formerly communist-ruled, but aside from that entirely different countries.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, what else do we know about Slovenia? It’s population is just over 2 million and it has 1.9 million cell phone users and 1.3 million internet users. This is all well and good, but how can we really get a feel for Slovenia before the match? One way we like to get to know new places is to check out their best and worst hotels on TripAdvisor. For simplicity’s sake we’ve restricted our perusal to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital and largest city. (We’re sure the whole country’s nice, but we’re not planning a trip there, we just want to learn more before we root against them in the World Cup.)
The highest-rated hotel in Slovenia is the Best Western Premiere Hotel Slon, which boasts a central location near Ljubljana’s old town as well as free Wi-Fi. Folks also seem to enjoy the free Finnish sauna and fitness center and that the weather report for the following day is slipped under your door each evening. Travelers love the fact that the Slon serves breakfast until 11am, as most other hotels stop at 10. At an average of $174 a night, it seems a delightful place to stay should you find yourself in Slovenia.
On the other end of the spectrum, this Alibi Hostel looks to be terrible. The TripAdvisor reviews include copious feedback from experienced hostel travelers who nearly-universally describe the Alibi as the worst hostel they’ve ever stayed in. Reports of theft and general uncleanliness are frequent, and the linens are, unsurprisingly, flimsy. Many reviews also note a terrible smell, and it seems like a lot of folks book multiple nights but end up leaving after just one, so on the plus side, it may be less crowded than anticipated if you actually stay there. Another plus is the hostel’s fantastic location in the center of Ljubljana’s old town, which seems to be the only thing keeping it in business, even at around $25 per person per night.
Now that we’ve seen the best and the worst of lodgings in Slovenia, what can we take away for the World Cup match? Our advice is to just to ignore all the good stuff from the nice hotel and focus on the negatives of the hostel. It’s smelly and unsafe and generally gross, and although we realize that it’s completely ridiculous to generalize Slovenia as a whole this way (it actually seems like a really fun, beautiful country), for the next few hours, we’ll make due. U-S-A!