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Slovenia in the September issue of NG Travel

The US edition of National Geographic Traveler, the world`s most widely-read travel magazine, featured Slovenia in its September issue. Author Carl Hoffman and photographer Aaron Huey focused on borderlands that make Slovenia `a rich mix of five cultures`. A nine-page story entitled Europe`s Borderland takes the reader to border regions in the Julian Alps, the Karavanke Mountains, Bela Krajina, Nova Gorica and the coast.

Looking from an American perspective, Hoffman was amazed at how borders divide this seemingly unified territory into five different countries. He starts his trip on the Slovenian side of Mount Mangart about which he says: `There are certain places in the world where the landscape is so sublime it renders you speechless, where all you can do is plop down and surrender, pondering it in awe.`

A large part of the text deals with amusing or sad issues imposed by borders. Hoffman describes stories of people who have changed countries and political systems several times during their lives without ever leaving their place of birth, which is something inconceivable for a traditional understanding of borders. `Who you really were in these places depended less on lines across a map than on a deeper, older, more tribal identity: the land where you were born, the language you spoke, your religion.` While borders have been removed in some cases as a result of the EU (he amused himself by crossing from Italy to Slovenia and back in Nova Gorica/Gorizia), new ones were created after Yugoslavia broke up in 1991.

Hoffman ventured into the neighbouring countries, too, but preferred Slovenia, `because it is more rural and feels more real`. Historic events, including the two world wars, play a part in the text too. In remote villages he discovered a `Slovenia free of commercialism and people tied to their lands`, which he puts down to the socialist past. At the same time, however, he finds Slovenia `sophisticated and sweetly modern`.

The story ends in the town of Piran, which is also featured on the cover.



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