Once upon a time in Bled, Slovenia
Bled, Slovenia – September 15 – 17, 2014
Even though we spent two full days there, we still aren’t sure if Bled is a real place. It was like we spent two days living in a fairy tale. It felt like we were the only people in town, it was that quiet and peaceful. Bled is a tourist destination but only by Slovenian standards.
On our first evening, with a recommendation from our host, we decided to circumnavigate Lake Bled, a 7km walk. It took us about two hours because we stopped to take pictures every few steps. It’s hard to describe the water, glacier blue-green, kind of like Lake Louise in Alberta with a less intimidating backdrop. Then there is the small island, home to the Church of the Assumption and its grand staircase leading up directly from the water. It really was unbelievable.
If you ‘Google image’ Lake Bled, you will see several of pictures of the island from Osojnica. This is a small mountain, a hill really in comparison to the surrounding Alps, that overlooks the lake providing breathtaking views. It took about three hours roundtrip to complete, including time at the top for a snack and to take in the incredible view!
There are a couple of transportation options for visiting the island. You can take a traditional flat-bottomed Slovenian boat called a pletna, which are used as water taxi’s, or you can rent your own boat and row yourself (we saw a young British kid swimming so that’s an option as well). We decided not to swim and rented our own boat. It cost €12 for one hour, plenty of time to visit the island. It took about 20 minutes to paddle out to the island; however, this could have been much shorter had I realized I was rowing backwards for the first ten minutes. Yes, it happened.
A must try when in Bled is the traditional Bled cream cake. Not trying it would be like visiting Newfoundland and not kissing a codfish and having a swally of Screech. The tastiest and most authentic cream cake is made at the Park Restaurant and Cafe in Bled’s town centre. Jess and I headed there in the evening and sat on the terrace where we had a perfect view of the lake below and Bled Castle above. Oh and the cake was good, but it was nothing to write home about (as I write home about it).
The morning of our last day in Bled, we headed five kilometres northwest to Vintgar Gorge. The gorge is a tourist friendly walk similar to Johnson’s Canyon in Banff National Park with its waterfalls, canyons and cliff-hugging board walks. While it was a nice walk, if you’ve spent time in Alberta and BC, you’ve likely seen this before.
So Bled is a real place after all. It is a small town tucked away in northwest Slovenia amidst the Julian Alps. I think it was so quiet because we are now out of tourist season, which meant the population was probably back to its normal number of around 9,000. It’s close to both the Italian and Austrian borders so it’s definitely worth at least a day trip if in that part of Europe.
While in Bled, we had time to sit and think about how remarkably fortunate we are to be on this adventure. Not only are we getting to see many once-in-a-lifetime sights, we are coming to appreciate living with less. Given our strict budget for the trip, there are no grande, non-fat, no foam, extra hot, pumpkin spice lattes but rather, small, black, non-sweet, instant coffee made from boiling water in a pot… and by non-sweet we mean we’ve run out of packs of sugar that we took from our last hotel stay! Of course we treat ourselves every now and then but we are trying hard to stay within budget… and it’s kind of fun!
jess + trickett
Bled was so photogenic. Here are a few extra shots: