Do you know where Slovenia is?
East of Italy, south of Austria, north of Croatia., a touch to western Hungary. It’s in alpine country.
Do you know what language they speak there?
Can you say anything in Slovenia?
I can’t either.
Which was a problem when we visited relatives.
The GPS App
The trouble began the moment we crossed the border in our rental car. We’d used the GPS we rented with the car for a week driving all through northern Italy.
The list of countries covered by the GPS was extensive and even included north African nations like Morocco.
Slovenia wasn’t on the list.
(It also wasn’t on the list when I tried to tell my credit card company we were visiting there. They said, “it’s close to Italy and Austria, that will do.” Fortunately we didn’t have to charge anything–they take Euros.)
As soon as we came out of the highway tunnel from Austria, the formerly-happy GPS blinked off.
My husband handed me his Blackberry. “Check out where we are on Google maps.”
It’s a machine, so it took me a while to turn it out, but eventually I was able to turn on the app and pull up Slovenia. We were spending the night at Lake Bled.
“What road do I take?” asked the driver.
I found it on the map, no problem (I’m the daughter of a geographer). I just couldn’t pronounce it.
It looked something like this: “Bolnišnica za ženske bolezni in porodništvo Postojna.”*
Well, what would you do if your spouse asked you?
I spluttered something.
“It looks like you can go west on 209 and that should take us there.”
We had a similar problem the next day trying to escape from the beautiful capital city Ljubljana, complicated by far more unpronounceable-by-me names.
I had to discern the name, find the street signs–and recognize what they were saying–plus tell him when to turn. We avoided hitting anything, so we did several loops around the block to stay on track.
Eventually we got back on the highway (our favorite road) and found our way to Rakek, home of my husband’s cousins.
Who don’t speak English.
Slovenian-English Translator App
That’s not exactly true. The children all studied English at school–but were too shy to speak.
Fortunately, the daughter-in-law spoke beautiful English (learned from watching cartoons on television as a child). As long as Tjasa was around, we were fine.
One day, though, I was left at home with the elderly relatives and tried hard to communicate. My Italian hand language helped, but not enough to make real conversation. Fortunately, I had downloaded a Slovene-English Translator app onto my I-touch and tapped questions, watched it translate and held it up for them to read.
“How long will it take them to get there?”
Vinko smiled: “To lahko traja več ur.”
I handed him the I-touch.
It’s hard to type onto the tiny keyboard, particularly for someone who has never seen such an object before. Our progress was laborious, but eventually I was able to understand “it could take several hours.”
We spent the afternoon in the lovely garden, motioning to one another, and smiling. One of the children would occasionally try a few words.
Vinko turned on his television: a soccer game.
Finally, a subject we could all understand!
Other apps we used:
Rick Steves audio (downloaded everything before we traveled. Great resource for many places we visited)
Euro to Dollar (an exchange app which helped us figure out how much stuff cost).
Flashlight (useful in new and dark rooms)
Weather (helpful to check each morning)
Convert Units (celsius to farenheit; kilometers to miles)
Italian English dictionary (my Italian is rusty, always)
I’m trying this one next: Navmii GPS Italy, an off-line map. I’ll let you know how it works.
I’ve got the app but who can understand Slovenian? Click to Tweet
Helpful travel apps for Italy and Slovenia. Click to Tweet
But what does Bolnišnica + mean? Click to Tweet
* Hospital for Gynecology and Obstetrics Postojna.
We didn’t want to go there.