When Jerry Kobiske decided to visit Slovenia, he actually didn't know much about it—but the decision to book on a whim opened his eyes to a beautiful, friendly country that he's now glad to have on his radar. Learn why he calls Slovenia a "hidden gem," the perks of having a local guide, and where he's going next in this traveler interview.

What are some of your previous favorite destinations, and how would you describe your travel style?

Jerry and his wife in Slovenia, March 2018 (Photo courtesy of Jerry Kobiske)

My wife and I have traveled as often as our budget and schedules have allowed for more than 40 years. I am retired, and my wife nearing retirement, so our travel frequency has increased the past couple of years.  I have been to all 50 U.S. states, and much of our travel now and in the future is internationally focused.  We love traveling with our three children when the opportunity affords itself.  New Zealand, Ireland, Tasmania, Cuba, Tanzania and Scotland top the list of favorite travel destinations. 

I would characterize our travel style as "variety over familiarity:" we're curious to see and visit many different places. Though we don't rough it on our travels, we are not adverse to adventure! We enjoy meeting new people and experiencing different cultures. 

How did you choose Slovenia as a destination? Did anything end up surprising you?

Truthfully, Slovenia was not on our radar of places to visit. We included it in our travel itinerary because our son was visiting a friend, and we are so glad we did.  It is a hidden gem. We did not know what to expect, and were very surprised that the natural beauty of Slovenia was so spectacular. The countryside, friendliness and hospitality of the people, and our excellent guide we had for a short two-day tour of the country were all incredibly memorable.

Tell us about your experience wine tasting in the Soča Valley.

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Slovenia's famous heart-shaped wine road

We actually had two wine tasting experiences, the first being a more traditional winery experience—something you might expect in Napa Valley,  for example—and the second, a more local experience.   We enjoyed both of them immensely.   Staying overnight at the first winery in Goriska Brda was a luxury respite. The small, family-based wine tasting was spontaneous, intimate and fun.  

Did having a local guide for part of your trip enhance your experience? What did you enjoy about it?

Local beehive in Slovenia, covered in spring snowfall (Photo courtesy of Jerry Kobiske)

Most definitely.  Our local guide was excellent.  Not only did he take us safely to our planned visit points, he also showed us areas in the country that you would easily miss if navigating on our own.   He was a great source of information about the country's history, and we learned a lot about Slovenia. He also introduced us to local life in Slovenia, including the cuisine. 

We have discovered with our recent Africa trip, and this one, that having a good local guide is very enriching to the overall travel experience.  With only a couple of days to explore, having the local guide maximized our ability to see and do as much as possible without spending time figuring it out on our own. 

Would you recommend this trip to other travelers?

Yes, definitely would recommend.  We were only in Slovenia for 5 days this time, but if we could do it again, we would have stayed at least a week.  

And last but not least: where are you planning to go on your next adventure?

Our next adventure is in June: a river cruise down the Danube from Budapest to Bucharest, visiting five countries along the way. And in November, we are booked on a Southeast Asia tour that covers Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.