Slovenia ended up being the highlight of the trip back in 2015. Our first stop, being the capital of the country, Ljubljana (pronounced LOO-BLEE-ON-YA). This short break in the bus ride included a meal at Gostilna Sokol, because who doesn’t like brats and beer?! Stomachs pleasantly plump, we concluded the stop with a jaunt through the Balkan city. The accomplice and I hiked up the hill to the castle above (a fairly steep endeavor to a less-than-unique castle). The quaint city would make my would-like-to-return list, and little did we know, we would return again in three years to get hitched in Bled!
Bled… a small, quaint town nestled around a lake with an 11th century castle atop a cliff surrounded by a snow-capped mountains. What’s not to like? This town quickly became the favorite detour on the excursion. G Adventures offers an orientation walking tour around the town, but instead of taking the orientation tour, we did a six mile run around the perimeter of the lake. Anyone who’s read my blog knows that I generally only run when chased by something, or forced. I loathe jogging as a form of exercise, but since our hotel room lacked the space needed to complete a workout, I settled with the latter form of coercion, and begrudgingly consented. The run started with cloud-filled skies, but gradually became sunny as the run progressed. Beautiful views astound from every corner of the lake, and oddly enough, made the run more tolerable. A small island sits in the middle of the lake, and a quick paddle to the island reveals Pilgrimage Church. The water of Lake Bled is supremely clear, you can see everything at the bottom.
One must partake in the hike up to Bled Castle while there. It begins down near the lake and winds up the hill before entering the grounds. Old cobblestone pathways lead you to the top, where a restaurant, chapel and store were perched atop a cliff overlooking the lake and town below. The views were like nothing else we’d seen… breathtaking. We enjoyed a glass of wine on the patio enjoying the glorious view before descending. Little did we know, we would be enjoying a four-course dinner in the restaurant before retiring to the patio to open bottles of champagne with swords and eating a police-themed cake.
Anyway… once back to lake-level, we initially intended to walk to a nearby gorge, but could not quite find the way. We ended up walking the outskirts and villages of Bled – beautiful in their own right.
Adina, our G Adventures guide, provided us with a list of optional activities while in Bled. Of course these two nuts chose Canyoning with Canyoning Bob… best idea ever. The less-than-jovial, but energetic, oddball that lead us, four Germans and two Australians through the canyons of Bled. Basic premise… ride into the mountains in a beat to hell old van with your new friends, hike a mountain, don a body suit and helmets, and then repel/leap into a canyon. Why the hell not? The Germans attached a GoPro to their helmets, filming the day’s activities. Stupendous!
I believe the highlight of the many jumps was when my travel partner froze atop one of the jumps, staring down at the four of us that had already made the plunge, and may as well have pouted like a small child. Eventually, after MUCH coaxing, he fearfully jumped, eyes tightly closed, into the cavern below. Hilarious. The final jump was approximately a thirty foot drop into a wide, glacial pool below. Standing on a cliff edge, we leapt into the aqua pool below. Once out of the canyon, we strode over to the river, and floated down stream, and back to the van.
Some advice… if you ever go canyoning and own a tough camera (aka. waterproof and shockproof) take the fucker on the canyoning excursion!!!! Totally worth it. Concerned my little device may not be able to withstand the water, I elected to leave it in the van. At least the German’s provided me with the GoPro video. This video was from the camera attached to the German’s head… first you’ll get a preview of the jump made by the German, and then my leap afterward… the Germans were a great cheerleading squad.
On our final night in Bled, Adina introduced us all to a particular beer, known as Kostritzer, that is made near her hometown in Germany. Dear small town that brews this beer… you are awesome for creating such a delicious, brew. Sincerely, Whitney.
Bled, we will miss you… ZBOGOM! I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce that, but it means goodbye in Slovenian according to Uncle Google. Next destination… Austria.