We decided early on that we would spend all of our extra days in Lake Bled and skip the city of Ljubljana to get rest, relaxation and have time to work a bit without the temptation of a city full of enticing things to do and write about. That’s the thing about travel blogging, every single thing you do creates more photos to be edited, words to be written and posts to be made. The desire to share every single experience is overwhelming, but there’s just not enough time. But, it can be said that as far as problems go, it’s a pretty wonderful one to have!
Honestly, I think I’d need to lock myself in a cave and do and experience nothing new for weeks to get caught up on all that’s happened already. But then, caves are interesting too!
The first two nights in Bled, we stayed at Villa Istra, which is a small boutique hotel, but one of the most luxurious places I’ve ever stayed. Then, we made a last minute decision to stay over one more day to swim and get a different perspective at Villa Bled. Both hotels are situated right on the lake, are lovely and have enormous breakfasts that make you excited to spring out of bed at 7am.
Our taxi driver, Brane, gave us the very best tips, so at his suggestion, we woke early the first morning to beat the crowds at Vintar Gorge. Sure enough, we were the first people through the gate at 8am and had two hours of peace, solitude, and great photo opportunities with early morning light and without throngs of people as we hiked through.
At the end of our exploration we called for a taxi, but all were busy, so we decided to start walking toward the castle and keep trying. With no intention of walking very far on our rest day, we had both worn flip flops, and at this point, we were already going on 5km in them. We carried on through the woodsy hills and down into the first village until we saw a pub. We stopped, sat and ordered wine and food without much thought because we were starving and then I noticed there were only a couple people dotted around and all having coffee. I looked at Gary and asked, “What time is it?” He glanced at his watch and said, “Eight minutes after ten” We had just walked into a pub, ordered Wiener schnitzels, and red wine at 10am and it all felt eerily normal. I’m pretty sure this means that I’m adjusting nicely to this new life.
The pub turns out to be a phenomenal choice. Yes, it was also the only choice we had come across, but the food was unreal. We were moaning and groaning out loud from start to finish. We started with salads on a bed of fresh kraut, accompanied by beets and beans. Everything tasted as if it had been pulled from the soil that morning. Then came a creamy wild mushroom soup that rendered me mute until I had wiped every last bit of the rich brown sauce from the sides of the bowl with my home baked bread. By the time the Schnitzel smothered in wild mushroom gravy with bread pudding arrived, I was blissfully considering how I could just stay right here in this little village forever with my own reserved table right here. We inquire to find that it’s a family owned and operated business. These places amaze me. They are the cornerstones of the community, places where people come together for food and fellowship all times of the day and night.
We take note as we linger that every single man from the surrounding area stops in for his lunch. Everyone knowing everyone else. It’s all so pleasant and relaxed. The police have one giant table reserved and they come in groups of three or four and take it in shifts. Presumably they can’t all stop at once or there may be crime sprees of a magnitude that I can’t even imagine. Carefully and beautifully braided together ears of corn stolen from their drying racks…? Possibly. But I doubt it. Someone would surely see the culprit and call their grandmother before they even arrived back home. These officers must have a pretty nice life out here.
After eating we tried calling for a taxi again but no luck. All are busy shuttling people in and out of town to and from airports and train stations. Our waiter suggests we just walk up to the castle adding, “It’s only another 3km from here.” Most likely thinking that tourists are truly the laziest lot ever, drinking wine and gorging themselves at 10am and then calling for taxis.
I find myself wanting to explain that I’ve been walking crazy distances for days and this is supposed to be a rest day, but we’ve already had to walk 8km. In the end I don’t, I just tell him how wonderful the schnitzel was and we start walking toward the castle. Did I mention that the castle is perched high atop a freaking stone mountain? Yes, we climb, all the way to the top in our flip flops. It’s now noon on rest day number one, and we’ve walked 11km. Somehow, this isn’t what I had in mind.
Bled Castle, which predates it’s first discovered mention by King Henry II of Germany in 1011, is lovely and interesting, and provides more picture perfect photo opportunities than you can imagine, but it’s also crowded and hot in the summer months. There are several parts of the castle one could linger in, from the museum to the extensive wine cellar. However, after two hours of playing tourist, I was done. In hindsight, this should have been an early morning venture as well to avoid the heat and the crowds.
We decided to try for a taxi again and luck smiled on us this time. While comfortably riding back to our hotel, we made a plan for swimming, rowing and eating over the two remaining rest days, with minimal walking!
The Lake Bled area is a beautiful place that I hope to return to again someday. I never expected it, but it is one of my favorite destinations. Everything is walkable, there are numerous nice hotels to chose from, and too many fabulous restaurants to count. We really enjoyed every single meal we had and the wines were inexpensive and lovely. It’s the kind of place that I imagine a person could return to time and again and still enjoy immensely.
Accommodation & Restaurant Information:
Kurej Gostalina (Gastro Pub)
Ostarija Peglez’n (Italian ~ Seafood)