Home Travel Trip Journals Eastern Europe - 2006 Lake Bled and the Julian Alps
Thursday, 13 July 2006 01:00

Lake Bled and the Julian Alps

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You can get to Lake Bled on the train or bus but the train drops you about 6 miles from town where you have to catch a local bus. We’ve never had much luck with local buses so we took the out of town bus straight from Ljubljana to Lake Bled. The bus ride to Bled was as nice as any bus ride but at least the scenery was nice. We were headed into the Julian Alps which are considered to be as nice as their Austrian and Swiss neighbors. In usual bus fashion we spent most of our time driving along little backroads and stopping at tiny villages that don’t even warrant a dot on the map. We did find one very pretty town but the name escapes me so I’ll need to look on a Michelin map to see it’s name. It had houses built along the very steep banks of a river and was nice to look at. We arrived at the Bled bus stop a little over an hour later. I’ve always talked up the Let’s Go guides since the France one was excellent and the Italy one is pretty good too. The reason I mention this is the section on Croatia and Slovenia of the Let’s Go Eastern Europe had to have been written by a girl. I’m sure I’ll get backlash from saying that but the directions couldn’t have been conjured up by any logical human being. We got off the bus and the guide told us to go up the hill to the center. All of the other tourists were going down the hill and since I know a few things about physics (like the fact that water runs downhill) we choose to go down with the other tourists and we get to the lake. Maybe the “Center” is up the hill but I’m pretty sure most people have come for the lake.

Lake Bled

To give you a bit of filler about Lake Bled it’s a lake in the Alps like I said before with Slovenia’s only island in the middle of it. On the island is a church and overlooking the lake on a monster rock cliff is a 1000 year old castle. It’s all very picturesque and magical looking. It’s the type of setting you see on the front of romance novels. Anyway we decided to rent a row boat and paddle to the island. Our boat held 7 and their was only four in it. The person at the rental booth said it took about 20 minutes to paddle out. This is the lake version of the 10 minutes it takes to walk anywhere in the city. If you don’t know what I’m referencing check earlier blog entries for “10 minutes”. With me paddling as hard as I could it took 35 minutes to get there. We docked and climbed the 100 stairs to the church. It’s said that if a groom carries his new bride all the way up the stairs they’ll have a good marriage or some such thing. It would be nice if it were that easy wouldn’t it? The church itself is small but I’m thinking that it doesn’t have to be big when it’s on an island in the middle of a lake. It probably doesn’t get too crowded on Sunday mornings.

Paddling

Paddling a rowboat for half an hour is more work than you’d think so we rested and ate our snacks. We then descended the hill and started back. Natalya wanted to row and did a great job. Piper wanted to row but the paddles were quite large and she’s been plagued by the “which left” syndrome that most girls suffer from. Natala’s left is consistently everyone else’s right so paddling backwards in a rowboat works out great. I tell her to paddle left (mine) she goes right (hers) but because she’s backwards she turns the boat left like I wanted. Piper’s left seems to fluctuate between true left and girl left which because a problem when you have to steer something. Jade did much better than I expected and doesn’t need any explanation on how to row a boat. When I tell him left he flips it in his head since he’s backwards and steers in the right direction. We ended up returning the boat 90 minutes after we rented it. Natalya and I had blisters on our hands and the next day we would be reminded of the existence of several key muscle groups that up to this point had gone unnoticed. We were starving so we took out our trusty Let’s Go guide and decided to head for a Indian restaurant “just up the hill from the bus station”. I put that in quotes because that’s exactly what the book said. We saw that there were two streets that led up hill and took the more traveled of the two. There were no restaurants this direction nor streets named Riklijiva so we went the other direction up the hill. After wandering around for 30 minutes looking for this restaurant we found the address but only by looking at directions to another restaurant that was between the one we were looking for and the bus station. We found the said restaurant which put us in the right direction to find ours. It wasn’t “just up the hill from the bus station” nor was it an Indian restaurant. I thought that maybe the restaurant had changed ownership but the sign out front said it had been there for 109 years. So we found our Indian Cuisine as directed by our Let’s Go guide but they didn’t have red carpets on the wall or bollywood paraphernalia as the book said. Had the author gotten lost “just up the hill” and found an identical street with the exact same number that served Indian food? Probably not. They (95% sure it’s a she) probably found another restaurant, but didn’t write the address, then later looked on a map to where it was and got the wrong place.

teran sauce

Either way the food was good. I had beef in a teran wine sauce and Natalya had fried squid. We had a French style “menu” were soup, salad, entree and dessert were provided. We were stuffed when we exited the place but time was a wasting so we climbed the rocking mountain to see the castle. It took longer than expected even though the waiter said it would take about 10 minutes (we already knew what that meant). The entry price to the castle was 6 euros each which was very high considering how many castles there are on the continent but Natalya said she wasn’t that interested in it so Jade and I went in. The view was marvelous and better than expected.

View from Castle

They were putting on rehearsed knight shows with on knight fighting the other. I had to explain to Jade that if we came back the following day the same guys would win. The trip back down the hill was uneventful but the fun began again once we got to the bus station. The station takes visa cards but was closed so we needed to pay on the bus which only takes cards. I didn’t have enough tolar on me so we’d need to find an ATM to withdraw money. We did find on by the waterfront but it told me I had insufficient funds. I didn’t bring my backup card because it worries me a bit to have all of my money in one spot. My only choice was to find an Internet access point to check my balance and possible transfer money from by backup account. I once again reference the Let’s Go guide since I didn’t have anything else. According to it there was a hostel “just up the hill” from the bus station. Another 20 minutes looking for the hostel and we found it. I use the internet to check my balance and find it’s fine. The lady working there pointed us to two other ATMs and back to the Lake we went. At this point we’d spent at least 90 minutes ascending and descending this hill and were getting tired of it. The second ATM worked, I withdrew money and we returned to the bus station to wait for a very late bus. An exhausting day but well worth it… We get home to get some sleep because the plan is to go all the way to Plitvice in Croatia.

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Grant

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