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Getting Nervous

Okay, I know this doesn't make sense but our trip to Slovenia/Croatia/Venice is approaching and all of a sudden I seem to be getting nervous. Looking for some reassurance from all you wonderful folks who have been there. We leave May 19, and I just looked at the CDC site for vaccinations and see that I should get the Hep A vaccine. I can at least get the first dose before leaving.

Question 1: Do I really need to worry about the food in terms of Hepatitis risk? Is the water safe?

Question 2: What is the best way to get from the airport in Ljubljana to our hotel which is Lesar Hotel Angel. Address is weird but here it is: Gornji, trg 7
1000 Ljubljana Slovenia

Question 3: When we leave our hotel to take the train to Zagreb (after 3 nights in Ljubljana) can we take a cab to the train station. Can we buy a ticket then or do we need to do that somehow ahead of time?

Question 4: If we don't rent a car and get an international DL (might still do that at AAA) can we get around on foot mostly (I hope) and then take some other transportation to Lake Bled and the other sites we might want to see that are too far to walk to?

Question 5: Can we use Euros in Slovenia and Croatia or do I need to get HRKs? How much money in other currencies do folks usually carry? After 3 days in Slovenia, we are on a bike tour for a week in Croatia then one day in Venice before heading home.

Question 6: Are the adaptor with just 2 prongs all we need to charge our phones and iPads?

Answers to any of the above are much appreciated!

Posted by
5744 posts

Question 1: Do I really need to worry about the food in terms of Hepatitis risk? Is the water safe?

Probably no more risk than there is in West Linn. Not a bad idea to keep your vaccinations up to date anyway - I find that traveling internationally helps me remind myself of the needs to keep up to date with such things.

I'd expect the water to be fine, but I always try to drink bottled water just about everywhere. I would not/did not hesitate to brush my teeth with tapwater in Croatia and Slovenia, and I ate everything that was put in front of me with no concerns (no more than anyplace else - use common sense and avoid places that look really sketchy - same as I would in such exotic destinations as Albany, Beaverton or Portland).

Question 2: What is the best way to get from the airport in Ljubljana to our hotel?

Don't know exactly where your hotel is, but I would take the advice in Rick's book for the area - that sort of detail is always easy to find and IME is spot-on. You do have the book, no?

If we don't rent a car...we get around on foot mostly?

Depends on where you plan to go. IME Croatia and Slovenia are best done with a rental car, at least for part of your time. The train system is limited and not well set up for tourists. I would not plan a visit to these two countries without factoring in a rental car, although I'm sure some people manage it. Trying to do everything by walking and public transit would surely limit where you can go, and/or would require a lot more time.

Are the adaptor with just 2 prongs all we need to charge our phones and iPads?

As long as your devices have chargers than can handle the local electricity - and the original OEM chargers for iPads and iPhones can - yes, all you need is the plug adapters. Same as anywhere else.

I'll leave the other questions to others....

Posted by
4954 posts

I use this simple two prong adapter in Slovenia, Croatia, and most of the rest of Europe:

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01C5TG278

But you can buy them at AAA, Fry's (probably), and elsewhere retail locally if need be.

Slovenia is on the Euro, so you need to use Euros there like in France, Italy, etc.

Croatia uses the Kuna (HRK), not the Euro. You may find hotels prices in Euros but you will pay in Kuna. Sometimes places will accept Euros in Croatia but likely at a poor exchange rate for you - better off paying in Kuna if possible. Or use a credit card that has no foreign transaction fee (e.g. the Costco Citi Visa).

I use my ATM card to get cash all over Europe, as much as needed, when I travel, but my credit union travel card charges no fee per use, so I just get 20 Euros here and there at ATMs, and the ATMs in Europe mostly don't charge either (haven't been to Spain yet and I hear some Spanish ATMs charge). I use credit cards whenever possible, though, and limit my use of cash.

You can certainly take a bus between Lake Bled, Ljubljana, and elsewhere. Here is a site with bus schedules for that:

https://www.alpetour.si/en/public-transport/bus-schedule-browser/

However, driving is really easy in Slovenia, and if you don't rent a car, you'll miss some pretty scenic drives - like the Julian Alps loop drive (Vrsic Pass) or the beautiful drive from Skofja Loka to Bled via the mountains through Jamnik and Kropa. The cheapest rental cars in Europe tend to be manual transmission, however, so expect to pay extra for an automatic if you need one (and reserve one in advance). Try EconomyCarRentals or Auto Europe for car rentals. One way rentals are possible (within Slovenia) and you need not go to the airport to rent a car.

You don't want/need a car within Ljubljana itself - there are big pedestrian areas, and if you have a car you'll probably need to park it in a lot, unless your hotel/B&B has parking. It's a terrific walking town.

I looked at your hotel in Google Maps - it's in the south part of the center of town (but it's a tiny town). The cheapest way would be to take a public bus from the airport to the train station then a local bus from there (or a very long walk, which). I have not used the local buses in Ljubljana - I think one is required to buy a e-card (as in most European cities these days) then add funds to it (which you can use to get back to the train station to get to Zagreb later). I'm sure you can find this info by googling. You could also take GoOpti from the airport directly to the hotel.

(I might have picked a hotel on the north side close to the train station to avoid the hassle of getting between the train station and your hotel. Too late to change it up? It's not an impossible walk, but it could be raining when you get to Slovenia - I've had rain there part of every visit!)

It's never occurred to me to worry about Hepatitis after visiting Slovenia and Croatia four times (never gotten a vaccine to travel anywhere, actually); I guess people might worry about it in France or Italy too. Slovenia and Croatia are developed "first world" countries. I do buy bottled water (usually very cheap) in Europe anyway much of the time but have also drunk the tap water in both countries many times.

Posted by
470 posts

Drinking tap water instead of bottled water is promoted by the Slovenian health and environmental authorities as the more eco-friendly option and there are drinking fountains fed with tap water scattered around Ljubljana. In Slovenia, tap water is perfectly fine in public water systems but usually not drinkable for safety reasons in remote places like high-altitude mountain huts, where it’s not controlled for quality.

I have never had issues using tap water in Croatia apart from an odd taste in some coastal areas. No health concerns as far as I’m aware.

Posted by
93 posts

Thanks everyone. Does anyone know if we can just go to the train station on the day we are leaving and buy a ticket then to go to Zagreb or should I try to see if I can buy one now through AAA or something?

David, what is "IME" ??

Can GoOpti be used like an Uber? Can we find it at the airport after arriving and take it to our hotel? Can we call one from the hotel and take it to the train station?

Much Thanks in Advance!

Posted by
2487 posts

Don't worry about Slovenia! It is one of the most pleasant and safest countries in, and almost everybody seems to speak perfect English.
There is no need to buy the train tickets for Ljubljana to Zagreb in advance. In these cases I have developed the routine to buy tickets the day before, if only to have one thing less to think about. It is a short walk from the city centre to the railway station, and the staff is very friendly.

Posted by
93 posts

THANK YOU, Ton! Now I am starting to feel better :)

Posted by
4954 posts

I haven't used GoOpti just read about it - but no, it's not like Uber; they are professionals with their own vans. You need to pre-book with them, and their prices are based on demand and availability, so the sooner you book, the better. They aren't the only airport shuttle service - google for more.

I'm pretty sure the train to Zagreb isn't reserved (I took it years ago), so if not it can't sell out. But I would book the train ticket as soon as you arrive in Ljubljana - it may be cheaper, and it might actually be a flexible ticket (it was back then) allowing you to choose a train. I wouldn't buy the ticket ahead of time in the US - no benefit I can see. The train station is small, and the agents will speak English. Do get to the station early enough to snag good seats if they aren't reserved.

http://www.slo-zeleznice.si/en/passenger-transport/travelling-abroad/croatia/zagreb

Posted by
93 posts

Haha - good to know. I was saying "trig" and had no clue what it meant!

Does anyone know how much in advance one must call to reserve a GoOpti? Do they ever wait around at places like the airport?

Posted by
21283 posts

I don't know why you wouldn't just take a taxi from the airport, assuming you don't want to fool with the bus. GoOpti sounds like a really good option if you're trying to move expeditiously between NE Italy and Slovenia, but it seems like overkill to me just to get into the city of Ljubljana from the airport.

There's rather frequent bus service between Ljubljana and Bled. The bus depot is very near the train station in Ljubljana. In Bled you want to get off at the stop nearest the lake; the drivers are generally good about making tourists understand about that, even if they don't always speak English. As of 2015 the ticket agents in both Ljubljana and Bled spoke very good English.

Also as of 2015, taxis were surprisingly reasonable in price (whereas hotels and restaurants were closer to Italian levels). There was often a van-taxi hanging out at the Bled bus station shortly before the Ljubljana bus was due to depart, trying to gather a full load of people wanting to ride back to the city for 7 euros a head. I'm sure it would cost a bit more now, 3 years later, but still it might be a viable option. Unfortunately, I saw no one offering a similar service on the way to Bled. I joined with 2 or 3 other travelers to share a taxi from Bled to Lake Bohinj one day and from Bled to the Vintgar Gorge another day. Both of those places have bus service, but the taxis offered some timing flexibility.

You can Google "CDC vaccines Slovenia", etc., to see what the CDC says. Hepatitis A is being suggested more often these days. I, too, only had time for the first shot this year, and I'm nearly certain what I was given included Hepatitis B as well. I don't think it's a bad idea to have at least the Hepatitis A. As you probably know, there are occasional outbreaks in the US.

I have been to Croatia three times and Slovenia twice. I have drunk nothing except tap water except when I'm sitting at a restaurant table. I'm not aware of having had any problem from the local water anywhere in Europe except St. Petersburg, Russia (where you definitely shouldn't even brush your teeth with it). However, honesty forces me to admit that a bacterial GI infection caught up with me while I was in Ljubljana in 2015. I have no idea what the incubation period is for such things, so I don't know whether I picked it up in Ljubljana or earlier in my trip (Dresden/Munich). I assume that I was probably infected in a restaurant, which can happen anywhere.

Posted by
93 posts

Thank you! I finally looked back at my communication with the hotel and they can arrange a taxi from the airport for 35 euros - seems worth it to me since we will be so fatigued. For some reason though, my emails to them keep bouncing back. Will try calling. Any thoughts on how much one should carry in euros - maybe $100 for taxis, bus etc?

Posted by
4954 posts

The "How many Euros should I carry (bring to Europe with me)?" is a Frequently-Asked Question, one that experienced travelers differ on. I never buy Euros in the US before I get there - I will bring Euros from a previous trip but that's it. I use my ATM card at the airport to get local currency at the cheapest rate. I also carry a few hundred US dollars I can change at the airport currency exchange (probably at a poor rate) in an emergency, when I MUST have cash and my ATM card isn't working - or use a credit card to pay for my transportation. Then again, I always take public transportation from the airport, and I can generally pay for that with a credit card or with the small number of Euros (if in a Euro country) I have left from the last trip. That said, 35 Euros isn't awful but a shuttle service would probably be cheaper.

Other travelers feel uncomfortable arriving in Europe without some local currency. Personal preference.

Posted by
1 posts

I'm one of these that arrives with a lot of the local currency. We try to stay off the beaten path so we never know when we will find a reliable, sage ATM. I always arrive with at least $400 US converted to the local currency... especially if staying at B&B or hostels that do not take CC.

We always drink bottled water also, just a travel habit. Re-fill your bottle wherever possible.

And we ALWAYS rent a car... we love going off the path of whereever a train can take you. A car will get you into the Julian Alps above Lake Bled. A must if you are in that area. Much more interesting than Ljubljana!

Posted by
4954 posts

A car is really helpful for seeing some of the small towns in Slovenia and enjoying some scenic drives. Driving is easy in Slovenia, and renting a car generally isn't expensive. It's even possible to rent a car just for the day in Ljubljana to get out and see the towns. But I always rent a car as a last resort in Europe, partly because I love trains but partly because in many parts of Europe, a car is completely unnecessary and can be a huge challenge; parking in cities like Ljubljana can be a nuisance given all of the large pedestrian areas. (Not really interested in driving in Italy and having to worry about which towns are ZTL zones, either.) However, Slovenia's train network is not that extensive. It has a decent bus system but I'm not a big fan of buses myself. Italy has a fantastic train network, so I've never even found a need to drive there.

Whether Lake Bled or the Julian Alps drive is "much more interesting" than Ljubljana is also a matter of taste and preference. I love towns and cities, and Ljubljana is probably my favorite in Europe - charming, lively, relatively small, but not that touristy (at least by other Americans). It feels like a place I'd love to live in. But some people aren't crazy about cities, so I think some of the charm is lost on them. I've visited Ljubljana four times, sometimes on the way to Croatia, just for the fun of a brief return. I know I'll go back.

Posted by
1878 posts

The CDC site seems ambiguous for Slovenia, food and water standards are similar to the U.S. and you don't need to take special precautions, but as you indicate they say you should get the Hep A vaccine. It's not a bad thing to have, if you can get the first shot why not. For Croatia they say don't drink the water, I would take that seriously unless you can get a more lenient recommendation from your local travel health clinic. CDC is admittedly very conservative. To be clear, don't drink the water means don't brush teeth with it either.