Learning to Slow Down in Slovenia
Originally published on PassionPassport.com
Every morning at Klavže 28, a bed and breakfast in Slovenia’s Soca Valley, started with breakfast. Baked eggs, local homemade yogurt and muesli, granola, cured meats, toast and locally made jam, and a cheese board or two. After breakfast, it was time to let the chickens out of their coop and collect the eggs.
But before Kate Parrish found herself collecting eggs every morning on a sustainable farm in the Slovenian countryside, she and her husband, Kyle, lived in San Francisco.
They started with short trips around the Bay Area, but dreamed of spending a longer time traveling the world. So Kate and Kyle started saving after they got engaged and, after they got married, when she lost her job in an industry she no longer wanted to work in, they made the decision to travel. They were young, didn’t own a home or have kids, or even a dog, yet. They sold their car first. Then they started selling their stuff — some of their furniture and any clothes they no longer needed. All money went into the travel fund.
In August, they took off on a yearlong excursion across the globe. Their first stop? Norway.
They traveled through Europe — with a stop in Morocco — then spent most of October in Italy because Kate’s best friend was getting married there. They knew they wanted to spend time volunteering after the wedding, so they turned to WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), the Yelp of volunteer opportunities abroad. Kyle found a four-day volunteer opportunity at a bed and breakfast in Slovenia that felt right to both of them. They applied and crossed their fingers.
Two weeks later, Steffan, one of the owners of Klavže 28, picked them up from Podmelec train station in Most Na Soči, Slovenia. He threw their backpacks in the trunk and immediately drove them to the grocery store to pick up food for dinner. Kate and Kyle’s responsibilities started almost immediately.
The 19th century farmhouse sat at the foothills of the Julian Alps, — near an abandoned train station and 10 minutes from the little town of Most Na Soči, but felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. Two 150-year-old stone houses sat on a huge expanse of green space, a river ran through the back of the property, and the farm was tucked behind the houses — home to 16 chickens and multiple gardens for herbs, fruits, and veggies.
Steffan and his partner, Ben, wanted to escape London, so they bought the peaceful, 22-acre farm after it was abandoned for over 50 years. Kate describes it as a place where no one would ever find you.
Eventually, Steffan invited them to stay. What was originally a four-day volunteering stint turned into several weeks.
Kate and Kyle immersed themselves.
Their days were spent doing an assortment of other chores — things like washing dishes, preparing meals, chopping and stacking firewood, doing laundry, raking leaves and pulling weeds around the property, and closing up the B&B for winter.
They made dinners and joined guests at the long table outside in the evenings. An older couple staying at the B&B reminded Kate and Kyle of their parents, and they bonded with Andrej, the winter caretaker.
They met locals in the nearby town. Steffan took Kate with him to a local junkyard full of antiques — teakettles and typewriters and coffee cups and old telephones, things Americans would consider vintage and cool. Andrej invited them to his brother’s birthday party and, though almost no one at the party spoke English, Kate and Kyle felt like they were part of the community. Steffan even trusted them to run the bed and breakfast by themselves for a week.
Kate loved learning about the animals and eventually figured out that chickens have personalities of their own. Like dogs, they would follow her around the farm while she was doing chores just to see what she was up to.
Kyle learned about the sustainable ways a local community can support a farm or B&B, and how much work really goes into owning and running a bed and breakfast on a large plot of land. He liked the simple, daily routine that came with life on the farm.
Living in Slovenia was different than the fast pace they’d been used to in San Francisco. But at Klavže 28, Kate and Kyle learned to slow down.
Kate and Kyle are meeting family in Switzerland for Christmas. In the New Year, they’ll head to Nepal and, after that, they’ve planned several stops in Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Eventually, they’ll board a flight to Argentina and make their way back up to the United States.
One day, they’ll head home to San Francisco. But for now, they’re content to slowly make their way around the world.