Today was May 1st – labor day here in most of Europe and basically a day where everything in Ljubljana closes shop. I had planned to head out of the city instead to the beautiful Bled area about an hour north from here.
I was going to go on my own – even had checked the holiday bus schedules – but as it turns out, Anita and Thomas were renting a car today and doing the same trip.
Car! I get to ride in a car! Yeah, I get excited by that – weird the things that excite you when you’re on a long trip like this.
Oh yeah, plus I get some great company for the day…
Today was a day for walking, more walking and even more walking. It started just after 9am when we walked for a good 45 minutes to the rental car place – a conveniently placed location if I do say so myself. After renting the car, Anita popped in the GPS and we were on our way.
Around 11am we ended up at Bled. We found a parking spot in a private lot along the lake and I was expecting the guy selling tickets to ask for 20 euros. Instead he asked for only 3 euros for 2 hours parking – um, doesn’t he know this is a prime spot? Silly man. So we paid our money and before we did anything we looked for a restaurant for lunch.
Yes, we were surrounded by beauty but our stomachs didn’t care. We bypassed all the touristy looking places near the lake and walked up the hill a little to find a cute little restaurant with a fire grill. We went inside and as we were perusing the menu the man came up to tell us the fish was very fresh – in fact the trout had just arrived 5 minutes ago.
Well that was enough for us. We all sat down and each ordered the fire grilled trout. We sat in the indoor garden near the grill and watched as the cook grilled our food mere feet away from us.
The trout was succulent and served with some grilled artic char and potatoes. Wine was a euro a glass so I had two and after this great meal we were ready to see all the sights that lay ahead of us.
First we walked around the lake a little. Although it was a holiday, it wasn’t packed with tourists which was a concern of mine. We took a gondola ride out on a large boat with about 15 of us to Bled Island in the middle of the lake.
The island is small and only takes about 10 minutes to walk around it but it’s just beautiful being in the middle of the lake. We went up the stairs to see the church there and I stopped in the little cafe to finally try potica. Potica is a traditional dessert here in Slovenia made with nuts and raisins and apparently really hard to make. It wasn’t hard to eat though as I went through it pretty quick.
Our gondola ride back took us to the other side of the lake so we were able to explore a little more before heading back to the car.
Next stop: Bled castle.
The castle overlooks the lake and is about a 15 minute drive away. I remember thinking as we drove over there “how would have I got here without a car?” and the answer simply would have been alot of walking.
So, yes, I was happy to be in car.
The castle, as it turns out, is more of a museum of the history of Bled with artifacts that had been discovered over the years. The highlight though was the view. Being able to see the lake from above along with Bled Island was quite a sight to see.
After the castle we made our way to Vintgar Gorge in the nearby town of Podham. The gorge is essentially a hiking trail along the rushing water of the river that runs through the mountains. We walked for a good 45 minutes each way and took some amazing photos. In fact I had taken so many photos by this time that my camera battery was showing that dreaded flashing one bar by now.
When we were done with the gorge it was about 7pm but this was not the last of the water we would see today – not by a long shot.
We drove over to Bohinj Lake about 20 minutes away from Bled Lake. Bohinj Lake is much bigger but not setup for tourists so it was a nice change. Also it was about 8pm so it was quieter and very peaceful. A few more photos and we headed to our final stop of the day – the waterfalls at Savica
Through empty winding roads we went up to the park. When we got there it was just turning into dusk and the park was essentially closed. The souvenir shop and all the restaurants were closed and the gate was down to the steps up to the waterfall.
Gate? What gate? We climbed over it and went on our merry way. The only people we saw along the way was a family of 3 that had obviously done the same.
We climbed and climbed and climbed some more. Twenty minutes uphill and we were given our reward – a stunning waterfall. I went down as far as I could getting wet from the cold mist coming from the fall to take a few pictures and then we were climbing back down the mountain.
It was about 9pm when we finally stopped for dinner in basically the first restaurant we saw as we were all hungry by then. It was a little restaurant in a nearby town and its’ menu had a little bit of everything.
I, of course, chose the mixed grill once again – my fourth here in Slovenia. My plate had the same variety of meats along with some rice. A couple glasses of wine (which was cheaper than tea, by the way) and a delightful apple strudel finished off the meal.
The drive back took about an hour and a half and by the time we got back to the hostel it was almost midnight. Whew – that was a long day today and alot of walking but it was worth it. We saw the beautiful nature that Slovenia has to offer plus I got to spend some time with a couple great people.
A perfect way to end my time here in Slovenia.
Next stop: Croatia!