Traversing Middle Earth

Trip Start Mar 03, 2011
Trip End Jun 03, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Slovenia  , Bled,
Saturday, April 23, 2011

So, our second day in Bled we decided to raft down one of the rivers.  Chris has been talkin about doing rafting for years, and it is DIRT CHEAP, like ROBBERY, in Slovenia.  It was a mere 28euro/person.  If you hop over to Switzerland, you'll pay 4x as much for the same thing.  Granted, the huge snow melt hadn't happened yet, so these were only Class II rapids... which still beats the laughable Class I i did back home a couple years ago.  lol, one day, when we have more moneys, we'll venture into harder stuff.

Anyway, our guide was pretty cool and chatted it up with us the whole way.  It was a pretty lazy river with only a few sections with small rapids. So that means more paddling I suppose, lol.  Oh wells.  It was nice and relaxing, though.  Until the end when Chris scared the crap out of me.  This water is cold.. it feels colder than SNOW, and it's comin right down out of the snowy mountains above Bled.  Near the end, the guide had us pull the raft to the side near some rocks that he said we could jump off of if we wanted to.  Yeah right- this water is freakin cold and I can't swim... just drown slowly.  Even with a life vest on, it didn't seem like fun to me.  So I was content just to dip my feet in.  Chris on the other hand, bein the go-getter "i'll try anything once" kinda guy, climbs up the rock with another girl and takes a bounding leap in.  It's a good 10ft above the water, which is insanely deep.  So down he goes.  He bobs back up a few seconds later, and you can tell he is just FREEZING.  He's sort of struggling to paddle but not really getting anywhere, and his teeth were just chattering.  Naturally, we all just sort of giggled 'cause it was funny.  But then he really wasn't making any headway and the current started pulling him.  So I started to get really worried and asked the guide if he was okay.  The guide untied the line anchoring the boat and threw to Chris so we could reel him in.  That's about the time Chris realized he should just float on his back and let the river take him instead of struggling.  But he caught on to the line at the last second and we pulled him.  I asked him what the hell happened, and he said,"The water was SO COLD, it just shocked my body and I couldn't move!  I was trying to stay above water, and the water was bouncing me up and under the water."  He swallowed a bit of water.  "I didn't realize until the last minute that I could just float on my back.  I was just shocked, so I didn't think right."  So yeah.  He scared me.  He doesn't plan on pullin a stunt like that again til he can actually swim.  (ITS OKAY GUYS, he's really okay.  =)  )  The bonus at the end of the boating trip was a free shot of homemade blueberry schnapps.  Warms ya right up.

We had planned to be ambitious that day again, and hike all the way around Bled Lake, up to the castle, AND up to nice viewpoint on the far side.  Yeah.  Didn't happen.  We quickly discovered our "going up" muscles were shot to hell from all the hiking the day before.  So, we made it halfway around the lake and up to Bled Castle.  There were some pretty neat viewpoints from up there, as well as a winery where you can bottle your own wine!  A really funny old man dressed as a monk runs the place, and it turns out doing it all yourself was dirt cheap.  Only 15euro!  lol, it was fun bottling it!  First I filled it up, then I got to CORK it (that's a pretty cool lil machine all by itself), put a wax seal around the cork as well as a red wax imprint on the bottle.  Heehee.  After that we hiked back down to the lake and picked up some of Bled's famous cream cake.  Oh dear god, this stuff is brilliant and heavenly.  We went back and bought more the next night.  And would have gotten some the last night if we had arrived back into Bled before the place closed.

Our third day in Bled we took a daytrip out to Bohinj Lake.  This place was so pretty and had such a ridiculously uncanny resemblence to Yosemite Valley.  The side of the lake we started on looks like someone just through a green shag carpet of trees over the granite cliffs in Yosemite Valley and gave it a new name.  The far side of the lake, though, looks EXACTLY like it.  I kept looking around feelin like I should see Yosemite Falls creepin down the ridge... or turn around and seeing Bridalveil.  So crazy.  Naturally, I loved it.  The hike across the lake was 4km, and the hike from the lake to Slap Savica (slap = waterfall) was another 4km uphill.  We were once again unprepared.  For some reason I thought the whole hike would take us only a few hours, so we didn't pack snacks or food, just water.  So we were starving by the time we reached the final climb to the waterfall.  And wouldn't you know it, those brilliant Slovenians put a restaraunt smack in the middle of nowhere by the water.  And we had THE BEST Slovenian food- homemade sausages with sour shredded cabbage and potatoes.  It was so freakin amazing.  It also made us really sleepy... obviously a bad idea when you're in the middle of a hike.  We finished the hike up to the waterfall, and then thought we could catch a bus on this side of the lake.  To make a long story short, the tickets we bought didn't work for that bus company, so we had to hike/jog back to the other side of the lake in order to make what we thought was the last bus in time.  Except the bus actually didn't come that hour- we ran for no reason.  And our tickets didn't work there either.  So I got ripped off and had to buy more tickets.  Lame. It ended up being a 16km trek in total, though.  Pretty crazy and definitely beautiful.  Still worth it.  =)

Our last day in Slovenia was Chris' birthday!  That day we headed down to Skocjan Caves.  It was another one of those things I came across in my Europe trip research, that when I saw it, it was like... holy crap.  I'm going there- I don't care what it takes.  From Bled, it was a 3 hour journey by train each way.  These were the most awesome caves I have ever seen in my life.  The first part of the caves look like the ones my siblings and I walked through when we were on vacation near San Antonio a couple years back.  Just hundreds and hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites everywhere!  Apparently a small bat colony and some eyeless salamanders also live in the cave- we didn't get to see any, tho.  The second part of the cave was my favorite.  It's an underground canyon 300m long and 100m high, with a river running through the bottom.  Oh my god, I was suddenly seeing visions from the Mines of Moria in Middle Earth right before my very eyes.  The resemblence to the book was just damned striking.  We're not allowed to take pics in the caves, so I stole some off google just to show you guys what we walked through.  It was amazing!  There's this high bridge that was like the Bridge of Khazad-dum (yes, the one Gandalf fell off of), and on the far side of the canyon were steps from a hundred years ago- the first ones made into the caves but no longer used.  They were so steep and narrow and just climbed and climbed, like the stairs in Moria.  Of course, no movies had ever been filmed there (i asked).  Oh man, they were just so worth the trip.  Happy sigh.

That night we ate at a mexican place called Chilli.  American knock off... perhaps... but it tasted way better!  Chris finally got his burrito, which was stuffed with grilled chicken and veggies.  I had an "enchilada".  I entered into this situation with an open mind, knowin full well that whatever I order may not resemble Mexican food.  I ended up getting something that looked like a chimichanga with a sour cream sauce on top and stuffed with chicken and veggies.  Absolutely good- nothing like an enchilada.  lol. 

So, obviously, we were very sad to be leaving Bled.  But it was an awesome place to visit. Hopefully again someday.  Its our favorite stop so far.
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