Natural Consequence
(photo credit: Tommasco Buracchi)

If you’re set on Europe, consider Slovenia. Where the f*ck is Slovenia? Well…that’s what I said, until I went there and loved it! A hidden gem, this tiny country is affordable, stunning and off the tourist track.  Bordering Italy, Croatia, Hungary and Austria, the Republic of Slovenia gained independence from the former region of Yugoslavia in 1991.  A population of over 2 million, most of them Roman Catholic, Slovenia has its own language, is part of the EU and has a strong tourist infrastructure where English is widely spoken. Start in the vibrant capital city of Ljubljana before heading to the foothills of the Julian Alps for a long list of outdoor activities. The capital city of Ljubljana has some really cool accommodations. Hostel Celica, which Lonely Planet calls the “world’s hippest hostel” is part of a military barracks used by the Austro-Hungarian army. A former prison, each “cell” was renovated into a room and re-decorated by a different artist.  Modern and sparkling clean, this budget accommodation has twenty renovated slammer cells for guests to stay in.