Beyond the city of Ljubljana, that city to which I confessed my deep love last week, the tiny nation of Slovenia offers a significant range of other interesting destinations that every traveler to the region would be wise to consider visiting. In fact, many of you pointed out this very fact in the comments of my previous post about this country.
In my case, due to my somewhat limited time in Slovenia, I ended up taking two day trips during my stay, both of which took place with my new friend, Matija, a local Slovenian who worked at the fantastic Vila Veselova hostel I stayed at in Ljubljana. Matija offered to become an unofficial ‘guide’ of sorts and was always willing to load a few people into his trusty van and drive them to various parts of his country.
ALL THINGS BLED…A LAKE, A CASTLE AND AN ISLAND
The first trip we embarked on brought us to what is one of the more well-known sites in all of Slovenia…Lake Bled. Now you might think that a lake is a lake is a lake but I challenge you to visit Lake Bled and then tell me that this location does not offer a setting so inspiring that you immediately want to turn your one day visit into a week-long, or even longer, stay.
It’s not just a lake. It’s a splendidly deep blue lake, with the medieval Bled Castle perched atop a limestone cliff near the shore and the small Bled Island sitting ever so majestically in the middle of the glistening water, with the pastel pink color of its 600-year old Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary elegantly glowing against the backdrop of strikingly green forest-covered mountains.
Enough of the poetry, you get the idea. Spec-tac-u-lar!
With more than enough activities to keep us occupied, our small group spent most of the day at Lake Bled, climbing up a rarely used forest trail that led to a lookout point at the back of the castle and then hiring a clunky old rowboat (a big thank you to fellow traveler Christopher for doing all the rowing!) so that we could visit the island as well.
And considering that there were not so many other visitors in Bled on this particular day, we strolled along the paths, contemplated swimming in the cool waters, ate at a local restaurant in the village and just sat down and admired what has to be one of the most beautiful countries on this planet, all in peace and quiet.
While, as we all know, my photos are never going to win any awards, here’s a selection that I consider to be the best of the bunch so that you get a better idea of Lake Bled…
BOHINJ…ONE MORE LAKE TO VISIT
After the visit to Bled, we jumped back in the van and Matija drove us westward along a narrow mountain road until, about forty-five minutes later, we arrived at Bohinj just in time for sunset. Bohinj is a municipality located in the midst of the Julian Alps and is home to another impressive lake, Lake Bohinj, which is also surrounded by mountains but, unlike Bled, does not have a town, or much activity, on its shores.
Lake Bohinj is nature at its best and for those with more time to spend in the region, this area offers endless opportunities for hiking, kayaking, bicycling and climbing during the summer as well as skiing and ice skating during the winter months. It also offers endless opportunities to go for a refreshing swim, which is exactly what the handful of other visitors to the lake were doing when we arrived. Of course, almost everyone in our small group followed suit, stripping down to their underwear or swimsuits and jumping right in as well.
For those who may have read my post a few months ago about my visit to some Mexican cenotes this year, you’ll already know that there was no way I was about to get in that freezing water myself. Instead, I placed my towel on the ground, and with my two jumpers zippered up nice and tight, I sat, shivering slightly, as everyone else splashed around in the lake.
But believe me, disappointed I was not as I spent the next hour or so glancing all around me, stuck in a state of disbelief that I was actually in Slovenia, this speck of a country that other travelers had written so positively about before me and whose stories and posts laid the foundation for my desire to witness such phenomenal nature for myself.
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