Thursday, 6 February 2014

Discover the Undiscovered!

The January issue od web magazine Globetrotter has already had a mention of some youth centres that are suitable for groups. There's been a lot of talk lately about youth tourism in Slovenia however, there's youth hostels, and then there's youth centres with hostels. This particular article will highlight the storyline of the former, since they're the embodiment of youth tourism as such.
Slovenian Youth Hostels
The story begins in the year of 2008, when the Slovenian Office of Youth announced a public call for the co-financing of youth infrastructure investments, in order of which 10 youth centres created schemes fot the construction or renovation of 10 youth hostels. The last results saw the light of day in 2012. These capaticies enable the execution of various longterm (youth) programs for the youth centres. The capacities are also available to societies and individuals in need of accomodation facilities or backpackers, who wish to discover the undiscovered regions on their journeys through our country - the ones that aren't already saturated with tourists, but who still wish to experience the youth vibe on the way. And if so, where better than in youth hostels, positioned directly in youth centres?

Today, the hostels back the role of youth centres in its entirety. Apart from the necessary funding of operating the hostel itself, all the funding, acquired through hostel stays are invested right back into youth centres: into the programs created for youth and the staff needed to support them. Thus, with every stay in any of these hostels, the youth is supported indirectly by businesses, societies or even young travellers themselves.

Not differing from any of the other industries tourism too, is evolving. In such a way, and also because of the many supporters of social enterpreneurship initiatives the principle of voting with one's wallet is becoming increasingly prominent. Nowadays (young) travellers aren't passive consumers anymore.

Youth Hostel Brežice
Every one of those hostels is placed in a different environment, therefore each is unique, but all of them are conjunctive in their mission, in accordance to that of youth work. And because nowadays success highlights the importance of networking, the hostels have complied that need with the initiation of their own network. The result of that initiative is a tourist network of youth centres with hostels (Slovenian Mladinski centri s hostli, abbreviated as MCHT). This is a social enterpreneurship project, held by Youth Network MaMa (Slovenian NGO network of youth centres on the national level). The project is responsible for including the hostels in all the family photos, feeding the curiosity of coordinators of different programs with a brochure in both - Slovenian and English, a pocket size contact info pamphlet, available in all youth centres and Tourist Information Offices across the country for the backpacker on the go, and a video, depicting all the youth hostels in the network. The network is also constructing a joint website, that will serve the users as an informational centre, enabling them to view the rooms, conference facilities, the local offer and experiences.

We can find them in city centres as well as in rural areas. In the area of Posavje there's two of them: the cyclist and family friendly youth hostel Brežice, that also accomodates larger groups and participants of numerous conferences, and youth hostel Krško, reminding us that the people of Krško aren't known just for their nuclear power plant. Krško is known as a little centre of the hardcore musical genre throughout the country. The youth centre alone is also hosting different societies, and acts as a synonym for hospitality and friendly staff.

Youth Hostel Krško

The area of Zasavje is home to Youth centre Trbovlje, a contemporary designed architectural object, which is located in the heart of the city, filled with fragments of it's mining past. It is also known for it's alternative culture.

The region of Štajerska's largest city Maribor, and the second largest city in Slovenia, is also home to the fully renovated Hostel Pekarna, next to the lively autonomous zone and squat going by the same name, which also translates from Slovenian as »the bakery«. The complex of buildings has been built by the Austro-Hungarian army at the past turn of the century for baking bread for the soliders. Its neighbour, the medieval city of Celje proudly presents MCC Hostel House of Legends, that is fully covered in stories from the medieval times until the recent urban legends. Each room has been left with a signet by the local artists, and therefore doesn't come as a surprise that it's charmed it's way into Lonely Planet's reporter's heart.

Youth Hostel Celje
If we continue our way towards the region of Koroška, we encounter more hostels. One of them is Youth Accommodation Šmartno ob Paki, a veteran of youth tourism in Slovenia. If its guests are seeking new adventures, they can even spend the summer nights on a real hayrack, right besides the hostel. Next is Youth hostel Velenje, where guests can visit the weekend concerts and theatre plays at »eMCe Plac« and Youth hostel Radlje ob Dravi, which is very popular for hosting weddings and eager cyclists and other sportsmen and women. With its wide halls and spacious rooms it's also very usefull for the disabled, as are a few of the other hostels as well.

Youth Hostel Velenje
The region of Koroška offers Youth hostel Punkl, the first energy sufficient, ecological wooden hostel in Slovenia. Because of its numerous sports facilities Youth hostel Punkl is great for sports enthusiasts and groups. Its guests can also go on a bycicle ride through a cave, like nowhere else in Slovenia.

Last but not least, the only hostel in the network, that lies on the western part of the counrty is Youth center and hostel Ajdovščina, located in greenery of Pale Sports Park on the outskirts of the town. Luckily for us, it's always good to have friends in the hospitable region of Primorska, where you jump on the bandwagon with a taste of prosciutto and a sip of good wine.

Youth Hostel Ajdovščina

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