Unreal lakes and beer!

Trip Start Jun 25, 2011
Trip End Jul 20, 2011

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

    Today we left Vienna early in the morning around 7:45 to begin our journey to Ljubljana in Slovenia. It was not a long drive at all, and we could have drove all the way to Venice if we wanted to I'm sure, so I'm not sure why they didn't. But the scenes we saw today were definitely worth a good look, so I can't complain!

    After about an hour of driving, we stopped at one of the nicest service stations in Europe. It was cottage-styled and had a great view over the mountains in the back patio. many people got something to eat even though we just had breakfast an hour ago, but we weren't even close to being hungry at this point and took some nice photos and made use of their free (gasp) washrooms.

    Our next stop was about 2 hours later at the scenic Lake Worth, which reminded me a lot of lakes in Canada like Kelowna and Lake Louise, as the color and sizes were similar. Most people ate lunch here but again we were not hungry yet. I had a nice ice cream though that was white with black speckles in it (the names were in Germany), which was only 1.4 euros and very large and tasty!

    We got on the bus again for approximately an hour. The view in the Alpes that we were driving through were definitely beautiful, and there were many tunnels, some of which Stefano told us were simply sound barriers. They countryside view was definitely incredible, and impossible to take photos of that would have expressed the beauty we saw with our eyes. We also passed through a very long tunnel that went on for at least 10 minutes. Stefano gave us a history lecture about Slovenia's independence from Yugoslavia and other stuff I tuned out as I often do in history class.

    Anyways, we got to Lake Bled around 3. Bled is by far one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen, and I went photo crazy! It was so hot there though, to the point where I wanted to faint, as I had dressed like I had for the past 2 weeks where the weather was warm-cool everyday, and was very rainy. Therefore, decked in black, I was literally sizzling to death whenever I stepped into the sun. Thankfully a large cloud came soon after, and we got more ice cream. This time I got black currant sorbet, which was even cheaper at one euro. I had never tried black currant before, in fact I don't even know what that is, but to my surprise it was very delicious.

    Anyways, Lake Bled is huge and its surface dazzles under the sun. It is blue-greenish, and has a church on an island right in the middle of the lake. A boat takes people back and forth for 12 euros, which we did not have time for. However, it is definitely incredible how they built that huge church on such a small island, and so far away too! I can't even imagine how they managed to ship all the materials over to build it. There is also a castle thing on a high cliff by the edge of the lake, which was also very pretty. There are also tons of swans and fat ducks floating around on the lake, and plenty of people sunbathing and just enjoying the scenery on a bench or piece of grass, reading a book or having some ice cream, or some of lake Bled's famous dessert- the creamschitten (sp?), which has a very funny name! I'm always amazed at how Europeans are able to just enjoy life so easily, whether in a cafe or at a park, they always seem so relaxed and to be taking life easy. I really envy them! Anyways, we headed back to our bus and arrived in Ljubljana only half an hour later. The city did not seem very pretty at first, and was full of the identical block shaped communist buildings we've seen in many cities previously. However, once we got to the city center it was like an entirely different world! It was a bit like Amsterdam with its bridges and canals, but a lot smaller and had hardly any tourists besides ourselves. Our city tour guide showed us the main sights in the city, such as the main square, and its many bridges. I just checked my map and apparently we started at Preseren Square, crossed the Triple Bridge (or one of them at least), saw Town Hall, and entered the Cathedrawl of St. Nicholas, which had a very fancy carved door full of famous events from their past (namely the invasion of the ottoman Empire by the Turks, who kidnapped their children). Outside the cathedral was a public drinking fountain which had very nice and much-needed cold water straight from the Alps. The church was very beautiful on the inside and after we exited through a side door, passed by the outdoor market which smelt strongly of fresh fruit, and headed to the Dragon's Bridge, followed by the Butcher's Bridge. The first one, the older one, had dragon statues all along its rails. The latter had what looked like mud people sculptures on it and the sides of the bridge was full of locks hanging on wires from couples who "locked" in their love for one another for eternity, or some cheesy stuff like that. It made for some very nice macro shots though!

    We were then given free time, approx 45 minutes to explore the city and meet back on the bridge. I wanted to ride up the gondola to the castle and get some nice views, but my mom was too tired and we were pressed for time, so we sat down at one of the hundreds of pubs/cafes lining the roads beside the canal. I definitely love the cafe culture in Europe!

    The name of the place we rank at as Cafe Petcovsek, and we ordered one of each of their beer specialties. One was a Union and the other was a Lasko, the Union being a Ljubljana specialty. It was very good, and the specialty was much stronger than the other one. I felt very dizzy after, and so did my mom, most likely because we both drank on an empty stomach! I could barely walk straight after! but I was very relaxed and happy.

    Our group picked us up since our cafe was right by the bridge, and we all walked back to the coach bus together. We were told that Ljubljana is a university city and full of young people during the school year, but something I noticed even in the summer. Anyways, we got to our hotel around 6:15 and our included dinner was at 7:15. I took a shower and changed, and enjoyed their free wifi. Every hotel we'd stayed in so far had wifi if not at least internet service somewhere, so I was very glad as that had been one of my main concerns about this tour! Doug's blog (he went on this same trip last year) noted that many hotels did not have internet, but I guess most of those hotels upgraded since last year, thank goodness! Anyways, our included buffet dinner was very good. I loved the schnitzel and fries the most, and by the time I was done those I had little room for anything else. I left and got a map and used the internet for a while waiting for my mom to finish. When she did, we left and took a stroll to the park, where we saw more of that joie de vivre that people were experiencing. We bought some water at a corner store on our way back.

    Ljubljana is a very safe city I noticed, and I felt comfortable in the streets there, unlike in London. Or perhaps I'm just getting used to it now! Anyways, tomorrow we leave for Venice, which I expect will be my favorite as so many classic novels like Death in Venice and the Merchant of Venice are among my favorites. I hope I won't be disappointed despite only having half a day there! Anyways, good night!
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