The first thing you’ll have to do is start the search with an open mind.

For me the trip started by heading up to Dobrna, a nice village in the Slovenian mountains, for an evaluation training of my EVS, which lasted for a week.

Luckily for me we were hosted to Terme Dobrna. We stayed in this very nice and cute hotel which is actually a thermal retreat center/spa, build in 1624. As you can imagine the place looks and feels more like 2014, but the historical parts were still nicely integrated in the whole concept.

Me, being me, I arrived one hour earlier than we were supposed to, but the friendly staff didn’t mind it at all and checked me in with no problem. Having some spare time on my hands I started chatting with the nice receptionist who told me a few things, like that Napoleon’s brother stayed there in 1810. I’ve also found out that the sauna, pool and the Historical tour through the village are included in the price, which I decided to take full advantage of (don’t hate me, please!).

Speaking about the pool, one day when I used the benefits included in the price I went there only with my swimsuit at me. Because I misread an email, I’ve got the idea that even the pool towels were included in the price. Well, they weren’t! Again, luckily for me the staff was super kind and found a clean towel for me in a second.

I know, I was like a total diva, but it wasn’t on purpose. I swear! :)

This was the first jewel that I’ve found upon my arrival. The cute, kinda’ hidden, village is just perfect. The walks through the park or through the hills around it are magnificent. I don’t know if it’s only me or the place, but you feel like you can totally blend in with nature and become one.

Yep, it’s a great place to go and relax!

Having an open mind will help you find treasures!

At this training that I took part of, there were mid-term volunteers and on-arrival volunteers. Technical words for saying people who are here for a while and people who just arrived.

From the first session I felt something interesting and important for me will happen. During that week my gut feeling was confirmed and I’ve learned a lot from all those people around me. Thanks to them I managed to grow a bit more.

Through working together and interacting with everyone I managed to discover a lot of mirrors. Mirrors of my personality and my behavior. Having an open mind and an observer attitude I discovered myself in them. I’ve learned how different we are from another and how we all evolve in our own rhythm. I saw a lot of sides of me that I forgot I have. Some I like, some I don’t. But thanks to the people who helped me re-discover them now I am aware of them and I embrace them as part of me.

I realized how important the environment, our cultural background, our friends and even the music we listen to, are to our development. I remembered something very important that I forgot: we all grow at our own speed. The experiences we face are all the time changing us, but for some the change may come slower than for others.

These jewels are more precious to me than any other jewels I might have found.

Be spontaneous and explore

After a week of work and fun we had to leave. After a week of laughter and deep emotions we all had to go back to our (temporary) homes.

I didn’t want to stop the process that I was going through and I decided to explore Slovenia even more and I made a small detour.

Instead of going back home I went to Velenje. A city that I didn’t even hear about before but in fact is the 5th or 6th biggest city in Slovenia.

I was a bit bothered by this fact, that I haven’t heard about it. This intrigued me a lot and the hearing that there was a festival, Kunigunda, going on there helped me even more to decide where to go.

Velenje is a real jewel that has to be found. It’s quite a big city, as I already said, but it’s hidden between the mountains. Literally! You have to go with a bus for a while on winding roads in order to see an imposing castle on a hill in front of you. After that magnificent sight you’ll see the city unveiling beneath the castle.
People argued with me about the city’s beauty because they say it was built for the coal factory, because it’s “socialistic” and stuff. I told them: “So what?!” It’s beautiful!!!

This quiet city has everything you need: pubs and cafes, students(!), lots of parks and even 3 lakes only 20 minutes away, by bike! And those lakes and hills around them are from fantasy stories. Also, these people knew how nice the area is and they built nice pedestrian, bicycle and even horse riding paths along the lakes. I was like: “come on, people, how good can it get?!”

Spending a weekend there was a huge boost for me. A switch was turned inside me and made me see myself and others in a totally different light.

I am glad that I left my home with an open mind and with a thirst of discovery because this past week was a real life changer.

What places had a similar effect on you and what jewels did you find there?

Please let me know in your comments!

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Take care!