Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Natural Beauty of Slovenia

Days 4 & 5 - Lake Bled



Day 4 was a bit more than we expected, we started off by checking out of our Ljubljana hotel, and driving up to Lake Bled.  It was a pretty quick and easy drive through the countryside.  Every little village prettier than the next.  We couldn't help but notice how charming every single house was, with well manicured gardens and overflowing window boxes.  

We got to Bled and checked into our little hotel.  The town had a rustic lake town feel to it, and our hotel was no different. Charming is the only word. 


Once we settled in, we decided to head to the lake and started walking around it.  There is a very nice paved path that goes around the entire lake, about 4 miles, giving different views of the island church and the castle as you go around.  



While walking, we found an entrance to a hike that we thought would give us a better vantage point to see the lake, so we decided to give it a go.  It turned out to be quite a challenging hike.  It was super steep the entire way up, including a staircase that might have been the steepest, longest staircase I've ever been on.  I got dizzy when I looked up! I had to think that going down was going to be way worse, I was dreading it, but the views the whole way up got better and better.  




When we got to the first vantage point, where most people stopped and turned around, we saw that the path kept going, so we decided to see where it went.  Turned out to be another vantage point, and even better.  


Now that was where the remainder of the hikers turned around, but we decided to keep following the trail... it turned out to wrap around the mountain and lead us back down to the path around the lake, just a little further down.  Perfect! As we walked further, we came to the entrance to the trail that led to the castle on the top of the cliff and decided to hit that one, too.  



Phew, that was a lot of climbing! 



Well, we got to this castle, and again, as castles go, it was a little disappointing.  It was certainly cool and very pretty, and actually reminded us of Winterfell, but again, it just didn't have the authentic feel of Predjama.  



After the day that turned out to be longer and more strenuous than we expected, we decided to grab a drink at a restaurant along the lakeside.... until the heavens opened and we had to run back to the hotel! Once we cleaned up, and warmed up, we headed out to delicious dinner at Ostarija Peglez'n.  I had fried cheese that was so delicious I ate it before I could take a pic! 

We then had a nightcap at a bar above the restaurant and called it a night.  We checked the weather for the next day and it looked like rain the whole afternoon, so we spent a lot of time deciding what to do for the few hours of good weather in the morning.  We landed on a bike ride. 

So the next morning I rushed Jason awake so we didn't lose all of our sunlight hours, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel, and got our bikes and hit the road.  We rode about 25 km (15.5 miles) through the beautiful countryside.  It was steep at times, but so fun.  We saw little villages, sheep, farms, churches, amazing streams from the melting of the snow capped Alps, wildflowers like I've never seen, and a beautiful old mill.  






We rode and rode, until the rains came! We decided to head back once the rain hit, but man was it coming down! We were being pelted from every which way.  The rain, even though it was actually quite warm out, was super cold - basically it was miserable.  When we got to the old mill, I yelled to Jason to pull over and get some shelter, while we make a plan for what to do. 


If we kept going, there would be no shelter for a long way, so we thought we'd wait it out.  But when the rain had been steady and hard for about 30 minutes, I decided to call the bike rental company and have them come get us.  Jason wanted to just ride back, but it would have been over an hour and this was really horrible.  The company was already out getting other unlucky bikers out of the rain, so we had to wait another 30 minutes.  A full hour of downpours, thunder, lightning, and even hail for a short bit! No way we could ride in this! 


Of course, he picked us up and 8 minutes into the drive back, we came into the most beautiful weather!  It was sunny and warm and Jason got so mad at me! As we backtracked our steps with the man from our rental company, I mentioned how beautiful all of the homes were, and he said that in their culture, they care a great deal about their homes.  That explains why in every town we passed, all I could do was marvel at these pretty homes.  

Once we got back, I figured it out, and we burned over 1,500 calories on that ride, so that meant we could eat and drink whatever we wanted for the rest of the afternoon, and after such a long, cold journey, we earned it!  We took long, hot showers, got dressed for the afternoon, and spent the rest of our time hitting cafes along the river, having cocktails and food all night.  



We went to a restaurant that we had passed on our ride called Labod for dinner, and it was really so good.  We couldn't decide which night's dinner was better between these last two, but certainly, the views, ambiance, service, and food here were excellent.  Jason even tried the traditional cake from Bled, and loved it! 




After changing spots for one last drink and one last view, we hit the sack because we had to get up early for our 3 hour drive back to Venice the next morning. 



With the 6am alarm set, we packed up and were out before 7.  We decided to take a slightly longer (20 minutes more) route through Austria and Northern Italy rather than backtrack the way we came, and it was the right choice.  The drive through the Alps was really stunning, from amazing bridges to long tunnels through towering mountains, passing little Alpine villages, and beautiful trees, it was a great ride back.  Not to mention, the incredibly well cared for roads! We had to pay about $25 in tolls for this way back, but if that's what it takes to have such well maintained roadways, I'd say it's worth it.

If I could sum up Slovenia in one word, it would be "pretty."  I was so tired of hearing myself say the word pretty the entire trip, that by the end I was really trying not say it anymore, but you just can't help it. Ever where you turn, it's just pretty! The fields of wildflowers, the architecture, the natural wonders, the quaint towns, the incredibly tall and old trees, the unassuming churches, the medieval castles, the towering mountains, the clear and colorful streams, even every tunnel we went through, everything was so pretty. 

Well that's it! We're writing from the plane, heading home and longing for our next trip already! I'll be heading to Morocco with my daughter and mother in September, and Jason and I will be visiting San Miguel de Allende in October.  If I could squeeze more in, I would.  We really do just love to explore and see all there is the world.  

Until next time!
Sue and Jason