The discovery of a hand written family tree led me to the “old country” of Old Yugoslavia, now Slovenia, where my great grandfather emigrated from in the late 1880’s.
Metlika, Slovenia, in the Bela Krajina region and known for vineyards, wine making and sheep breeding is a mere 2 miles from Croatia.
I chose to explore this up and coming European Union country during Metlika’s annual wine festival which is held the third weekend in May to get a real feel of the village.
The internet proved to be a valuable tool to find the distant family members and I found they run a tourist farm in Metlika. I called the farm to explain my upcoming trip and how I was related but there was somewhat of a language barrier. I called the Metlika Tourist Information Center and helpful employees knew of my relatives and relayed messages to them. The employees suggested I meet the Parish Priest at the village church to review the family birth records at the church and I arranged that by email.
In May 2009, I arrived to Ljubljana, the capitol of Slovenia and stayed at Pri Mraku Guesthouse for 108 Euro a night including a full European breakfast. First thing Saturday morning, I walked down to the riverside market for the weekly open market in Old Town where vendors sell fresh produce, local honey, egg noodles and hand made merchandise. It was fun to watch the locals dance in traditional costume and sell deliciously cooked foods from big kettles over wood burning fire pits.
The private guide/driver I found on the internet, Slovenian native Rok Puppis (RokPuppis@gmail.com) was an excellent choice because his English speaking skills combined with an educational background in geography and history made him the perfect tour guide for my first journey into Slovenia. Mr. Puppis gave me in-depth historical information about the country and the different regions as we drove through the lush green countryside to Metlika.