Bled, Slovenia… think quaint town surrounding a lake that is nestled in the mountains. Then add in an island in the middle of the lake with a beautiful chapel on it. And then imagine the Julian Alps bordering the town. Make the water so clear you can see all the way to the bottom, and that pristine water has a magnificent turquoise hue. Lastly, don’t forget the castle perched atop a cliff jutting up from the edge of the lake. Moral of the story: Bled is absolutely picturesque. And if people still don’t understand the appeal, I simply advise them to Google it. That usually gets the point across. Our love affair with Bled began three years ago when we visited the first time. So we have returned, this time to get hitched.
The first two nights in Bled were spent in Vila Preseren, a white villa sitting right next to the lake. The attached restaurant is mainly a large patio looking out upon the lake. Our lime green hotel room (our second lime green room thus far, so apparently that eye-popping color is a thing over there) was hidden away above the restaurant. Not a bad little place to rest our heads for a couple of nights!
We ended up eating there multiple times during the stay, to include our first meeting with the wedding planner, Petra. More on Petra later. Our typical waiter, name unknown (I have got to get better at names!), got to know us quite well. Whether or not that’s a good thing, is still to be determined as we were loud, obnoxious and probably annoying. Anyway, the patio looked out over the lake with only a walking path and a patch of grass separating us from the water. When we ate there in the mornings, we were greeted by a mass of sparrows that were VERY curious and not at all scared.
One little devil flew right up and took food out of my fingers!
Two of our close friends joined us on our second day in Bled. Leah and Morgan (henceforth, known as Morgs) arrived from Amsterdam. The pair met up with us one the patio of the restaurant for dinner.
They also joined us on a drive to Lake Bohinj and Slap Savica (otherwise known as a waterfall). This lake was less commercialized and developed than Bled, but that being said, Bled is not exactly what I would consider developed, since such a scenic lake would be in the States. Destructive Americans… Anyway, we strolled around the lake before driving towards Slap Savica.
After finding one of the last parking spots in the gravel lot, we set out on the trail to the waterfall. Unfortunately, the trail was a bit steeper than expected, and my Mom had to hang back on a bench.
Leah, Morgs, Fiancé, and I reached the waterfall with a handful of other hikers/walkers. Sadly, a gate separates viewers from the base of the falls, and forces a bottleneck on the trail to view the falls. Still pretty.
After a 10 minute wait in line, and some annoying line jumpers, we finally got a photo with just the three of us and Slap Savica.
Lake Bohinj is a typical glacial lake, I learned on this short hike. During the last glaciation, the glacier carved out the steep walls of the surrounding mountains, and contributed to the U-Shape of the valley, and the hollow that is the current Lake Bohinj.
A few more from the stroll…
We all decided we were hungry, and stopped for some rather scrumptious pizza at Gostilna Pod Skalco, which Google Translate nicely informed us means “inn under the rock.” Aptly named, as it was quite literally below a climbing rock.
Fiancé and I decided on a run around the lake once we returned to Bled. I shall preface this with the fact that I hate, no… loathe… running. But I’m also a workout fiend and a travel nut. I wanted to see the lake again and get some exercise, and the hotel room was not large enough for a decent workout. I relented and joined Fiancé on a run.
Anyway, it’s about 6 km around the lake (right around 3 3/4 miles for us crazy Americans that don’t understand the metric system). Thank you, Insanity workouts for upping my poor endurance and making that run FAR easier for a non-runner/run-hater. We will ignore the fact that my legs were jello afterward. I was rewarded with some fantastic photos around the lake, and a nice handstand photo as well!
And the HANDSTAND!!!!
After a nice, hot shower, we made plans to meet Leah and Morgs at Zima (No, not the terrible-tasting, carbonated alcoholic beverage from the 90s that someone senselessly decided needed to be brought back to shelves in the States recently). Leah actually informed us it means ‘winter’ in Russian… she’s been studying Russian religiously for, I think, year now. I much prefer that translation of the word. The little ice cream and dessert shop was up the hill behind our villa. Two other friends, Diane and her cousin, Katie, met us up there as well. Some sort of scrumptious cinnamon ice cream delighted my palate, along with a mulled red wine.
Our group didn’t stop there. We retired to the restaurant at Vila Preseren for a nightcap. A lot of laughter, more menu perusal, seconds on desserts, and our usual waiter finished the night.
The next day, Morgs and Leah joined us on a trip to Vintgar Gorge. We made a failed attempt to walk to this particular gorge back in 2015, but our directions only included “walk towards the church, and it’s back to the left from there.” The problem quickly arose of “which church?” Sygic assisted us in successfully getting us to the gorge only to discover that the gorge was closed due to rockslides from the recent wet weather. Fail #2 at this gorge. Vintgar is supposed to have a wooden path weaving through the gorge close to the turquoise waters. Alas, 50 feet down the path, a haphazard gate blocked our way. There goes that idea for a Mom-friendly stroll. Peeks at the waters were all we got. Foiled by yet another gate.
Every hotel had a delightful front desk associate. Tina, the concierge at Vila Preseren, had spoiled us with politeness, offers to carry our heavy luggage, and free bottled water for our hydration needs. However, night three in Bled meant a move to Penzion Berc. Miriam, the concierge at this beautiful boutique hotel, put all others to shame. Miriam not only greeted us that evening and showed us around the hotel and to our rooms personally, but she cheerily greeted us every morning at breakfast. When we asked her about an iron for Fiancé’s shirt for the wedding, she advised she would get it taken care of, and in fact, ironed it herself on the day. Fiancé still delights in saying, “I am Miriam,” as she always did… but, in a far more masculine tone, of course. He does try to add in the accent, however, which is not particularly successful.
I highly recommend Penzion Berc for a stay in Bled! A tad on the pricier side compared to our other hotels, but completely worth it. The large rooms are nicely decorated with a great AC (us spoiled Americans like our creature comforts like air conditioning).
Miriam urged us to hike up to Mala Osojnica, letting us know it was the viewpoint from which all of the panoramic photographs of Bled are taken. One caveat was that it could be treacherous in wet weather. Ignoring the warning, she didn’t have to tell us twice! Fiancé and I set out towards this viewpoint. I attempted running to the trail, but my legs quickly communicated to me that running was not an option. Walking it is! A couple from the walk…
After some Google Maps and Sygic consulting, we settled on a spot to cross the street and head up to the viewpoint. An older Asian couple was sitting on a bench at the beginning of the trail. They immediately wished us “good luck” as we started up the trail. That doesn’t bode well.
It didn’t take long to understand the Asian couple’s exhaustion. The incline of the trail was less-than-accommodating, and we were very glad it wasn’t raining that afternoon as it had every other late afternoon since we had landed in Slovenia. I’m quite certain we would have slid off the mountain. Just before you get to the top, a metal staircase greets you. Psh, stairs my ass… it’s a damned ladder with only one handrail.
A brief stop to look out over Bled there, and we finished the 5 minute hike to the top. The view did not disappoint.
On our descent, I began chatting with a Danish girl (I am so terrible with names). She was backpacking through a few parts of Europe, partially with tour groups, partially alone. She asked us about our upcoming wedding, and regaled us with stories about her recent Italy trip. We told her about hiking the Inca Trail, and recommended G Adventures for that endeavor. We departed ways after safely navigating the steep trail. Her in the direction of her bike, and us towards our hotel.
As per usual, I got sidetracked on the way back, and decided to dive into Lake Bled. Cold, but certainly more tolerable than some other glacial bodies of water that I have and will jump in!
That evening for dinner, Fiancé went restaurant hunting on his cellular device. He settled on a place on the main drag for six of our lovely wedding guests (and us, too) to meet. An odd mix of Italian dishes, local fare, and Indian cuisine resulted in Okarina. There… Fiancé, Mom, Morgs, Diane, Katie, JB, Josh (henceforth known as Marshal), and I dined on the variety of fares, while drinking Slovenian beers and wine. Fiancé, you did alright choosing our eatery.
Our nightcap for this evening was Gostilna Union, one of the few bars still open that late into the evening (by late, I mean 22:00). The laughter, stories and good times continued. Morgs taught Fiancé and I about the wonders of Snapchat.
That night came to an end, and we all meandered back to our respective hotels or hostels to prepare for the following day… wedding day.
Yup, I’m skipping ahead and leaving the wedding behind for a separate post because that day was just that eventful and ridiculous. It’s going to require a lot of thought, memory refreshers, picture review, and head shaking to get the hilarity of that day into words.
We’re on to Bovec!