Slovenia

Slovenia

When driving across an international border in Central Europe, take note: You may be expected to stop at the first opportunity to buy a "vignette" to be displayed somewhere in the front window of your car. And no, vignette doesn’t refer to some cute little story or photo; it’s a toll signified by a sticker or receipt. But traveler Bill Robinson of San Clemente, Calif., would like to warn fellow English speakers that unless you know this ahead of time, you may not realize it until exiting the country, and at that point it can turn ugly.

He said he was leaving Slovenia when a border official stopped him, told him of his vignette violation and seized his passport, demanding the equivalent of more than $200 as a fine. We all know that if you don’t have your passport, you’re in trouble, so it wasn’t like he could just leave. His chief complaint was the lack of warning upon entry into the country. In fact, this apparently is a common problem for people who don’t speak or understand Slovene because the Internet provides numerous similar stories. Had he known he needed to pay the toll, he said he would gladly have paid the 15 euros (about $21) for a one-week vignette upon entering.

When going into Austria, another country that requires vignettes, I found the border area giving plenty of warning in several languages, including English. So, thanks to Robinson, consider yourself warned on Slovenia. What’s more, the country’s traffic-authority website explains that numerous fines can be levied and paid, quite conveniently, on the spot to the officer standing in front of you. And from I’ve read, Robinson actually may have gotten off easy on the fine, despite the trauma of having his passport grabbed.

Take note of the "warning" sign that Robinson saw, albeit too late.