You can easily call both Croatia and Slovenia an earthly paradise made of snow capped alpine peaks, emerald-green lakes, extraordinary medieval walled towns and pretty Venetian-style colorful villages along a dramatically beautiful coastline. I visited Croatia and Slovenia for the first time 25 years ago, right after the turbulent and violent breakup of Jugoslavia. It was my first journey back to my family roots.
The war sounded to me like a distant call to discover my Croatian roots. Despite it was a hot and sunny summer, I was one of the very few tourists around in Zagreb, Bled or Istria. Most of the fearful European tourists avoided the area as they associated it with the Balkan war even if the extraordinary Croatian island-speckled coastline or the green mountains of Slovenia were far away from the bombs of Sarajevo and Vukovar. You could still breath the ghost of socialism in the air mixed with the somehow proud Austro-Hungarian historical past. Both countries had just started to pursue the dream of becoming real European nations and disengage from the old Balkan train as soon as possible.
How things changed since then! 25 years later, I landed in two modern and much richer nations, both part of the European Union and invaded by armies of tourists, especially from the far east. Zagreb proudly welcomed me with its most beautiful Christmas market in Europe, the pretty Slovenian town of Bled with its small lake guarded by a pretty Baroque style church on a picturesque islet, Rovinj with its colorful Venetian atmosphere in a sleepy and tourists free winter atmosphere, Split with the amazing Roman Palace of Diocletian trapped inside the old town and the beautiful walled town of Dubrovnik, definitely one of the most beautiful places I visited so far.
I traveled over 2,100 km throughout Croatia and Slovenia under an incredibly nice winter weather and ended my journey in that fantastic turquoise ribbon of lakes linked by gushing waterfalls known as Plitvice Lakes. It was another trip back to my roots but this time I found it these countries be more colorful and serene. Enjoy my Croatia and Slovenia photo gallery.