Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
27Trip End Nov 09, 2010
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Those three words could easily sum up what we think of Bled, Slovenia - but here are at least a few more words of our experiences thus far (we're still there).
After surviving the throngs of tourists (yes, we are part of that problem but its not even summer yet) carrying maps, cameras and lost expressions all over the major destinations and cities (Barcelona, Rome, Venice), we longed for a small, quiet relaxing spot to spend some down time.
We needed to recharge and I think we found the proper elixer in this small town in the northwest corner of Slovenia, not too far from both Austria and Italy, to the north and west
According to wikipedia, there were only 10,000 residents eight years ago. It's only about 500 meters above sea level, but there is a certain alpine mountain feel to the place - and its partially surrounded by still snow capped mountains that go up to 2800 meters. Seeing some of the winter postcard photos, they definitely get their share of cold weather and the lake does freeze. But we arrived on a perfect spring day, looking at each other as the bus pulled into town knowing that this was going to be a favorite stop on our journey.
When you arrive on train or bus into any of those monster cities mentioned above you are met with a guantlet of taxis, tour guides and all the "help" you may wish never existed. Not here. We went into an outdoor guide store and actually had to ask about a taxi. A very nice girl behind a desk, speaking nearly perfect English said she would call us one and it would be about five minutes. Waiting around out front, chatting with the same girl as she put away the rental mountain bikes (outdoor town!) she announced "there's your taxi" when a shiny BMW 750 pulled up
A short ten minute drive later, partially along the very edge of the lake (yep, we were giving each other that look of excellent discovery again!) we arrived at the apartment we had rented for the week. No cheap prison-like hostel for this week (we are both unemployed remember!). We were going to have our own kitchen and maybe even cook for ourselves for a change (and some savings and joy). And thanks to Slovenia for being Slovenia and being in eastern Europe we got all this for just 47 Euros per night! By the standards of what we've been seeing in the rest of Europe so far - this was cheap! And it has so much more than we've seen almost anywhere! We have a pretty full kitchen, a full table for dining, a huge bedroom with closet and bathroom and a balcony with views of the mountains. We don't see the lake from here, but it is literally just a five minute walk over a hill.
The town is small and has just a handful of prominent landmarks - that are prominent. The lake, the castle on the cliff and the church on the island (The island on Lake Bled has 99 steps. A local tradition at weddings is for the husband to carry his new bride up these steps, during which the bride must remain silent.)
Slovenia's athletic prowess is in rowing, and they use the lake for just that. I think I read all Slovenian Olympic medals have been in rowing. They've held championships in the past and will host the first tournament of this 2010 season next week, as well as the 2011 World Rowing Championships next year. It was pretty to see the boats (don't think they are called boats?) gliding across the water in the late afternoon.
We've walked around the lake (I've taken countless photos of it!), hiked to the cliff top to visit the castle (and the views!), read our books on the backporch and taken long naps. We have relaxed and not really done too much. This afternoon we extended our stay another couple of days. It's exactly what we wanted.
This wasn't really a 3-word blog, but three words would suffice. We love Bled!
Goodbye for now, Jeff