Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bountiful Bled (Slovenia)

Chomping into the local delicacy of an impossibly rich vanilla and cream pastry (called kremna rezina) and a steaming black coffee on a vivid sun-drenched morning, it is difficult to imagine a more sublime place to be than at a café at medieval Bled Castle. Perched precipitously on a bare rock face, this ancient but uninteresting castle overlooks the glittering turquoise glacial Lake Bled with its fairy-tale island church, and glorious snow-capped alpine vista.

This touristy village in the very north of Slovenia, a pocket-sized country wedged between Austria, Croatia and Italy swells with neighbouring European travellers. Officially over 1000 years old (having celebrated its millennium in 2004), Bled like all of Slovenia has a vibrancy and energy in its youthful population and in the progress this tiny nation has made in the last decade.

Most popular is a visit to Bled Island and the Church of the Assumption. Walk past the hotels in Bled lining the lake to catch a squat gondola-like craft called a pletna, propelled by a local poleman. As you stride up the 99 steps from the dock, spare a thought for grooms who are expected to carry their wife up to the church to show they are fit for marriage. Enchantingly, the wife is meant to remain silent for the journey.

The church bell almost constantly chimes from its tower, echoing across the lake. Local legend dictates that those who ring the bell will have their wishes come true. Clearly many superstitious folks visit Bled!!

Rowing on Lake Bled continues to be popular, with international regattas regularly conducted on the marked rowing course.

Around Bled are lush fields, growing feed for the harsh winter months. Note the unique fence-like structures used as hayracks to dry the grasses for storage.

An excellent half-day hike from Bled is through Vintgar Gorge where a boardwalk hugs the rock wall, weaving back and forth across the raging river and tumbling water below. The gorge finishes a kilometre and a half down the boardwalk with the impressive Šum Waterfall which holds the delightfully alliterative name of Slap Šum in Slovene.

Picturesque Bled is a real treasure, a true travel wonder. Take your time, stroll around the lake, rest and relax in the local cafés and soak up the easy going attitude of this lakeside mecca.

Other Slovenia Posts
Underground Fantasy (Skocjan Caves)
Caverns, Crooks and Castles (Predjama)
The Secret Hospital (Cerkno)


flipnomad said...

wow it's beautiful!!!

wish i could go to europe again!!!


GMG said...

Hi Mark! Happy New Year!!
Bled is really wonderful!! Great pictures...

Meanwhile Blogtrotter has reached 500 posts on all blogs with some views of «La Petite France, Strasbourg», truly missing your comments! Enjoy and have a first great week in 2010!!!

Anil said...

Mark, you always find a way to bring these smaller places we may not be as familiar with to life.

BarbaraW said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Wish I was there right now.

wizardofwords said...

What lovely images for a cold winter's day! Thanks for posting this.

Mark H said...

@flipnomad: Stunning place surrounded by great mountains

@GMG: Congrats on 500 posts.

@anil: The smaller places are the ones I find the most wonderous and surprising.

@BarbaraW: Bit cold in January! I think the lake probably freezes over!

@wizardofwords: Thank you.

transfer smart said...

Definitely beautiful, very great place. Wishing I was in the place right now, thanks for sharing. The transfer smart vacationers surely include Slovenia in their list.

Nomadic Matt said...

that water looks amazing. so bluish green. Yet another reason to go to slovenia

happy new year bt!

Donna Hull said...

So beautiful. A visit to Bled looks like my type of trip. Gorgeous!

Sherry Ott said...

Wow - I like anywhere they carry me up 99 steps! The area looks beautiful!

Heather on her travels said...

It looks so picturesque - if I go i shall force my husband to carry me up to that church1!

Mark H said...

@nomadic matt: Slovenia is a surprising favourite of mine.

@sherry, @heather: I'd love the photo of you being carried up the stairs. I saw someone doing it while I was there.

Coach Hire said...

Well, I have to say the writer is very intelligent, he has crafted all the information in a way including his travel and tour photos that we all wish if we were there. Too less is seen.

Unfortunately, I have not been there, but the Coach Company I am working with provides travel and tour services including airport pickup and airport transfer service and coach hire, minibus hire and limo hire service there and might like to go there to see these places.

Thank you though for all the lovely information and photos, would add them in my blog.

Thank you / Lucy
London UK.

Anonymous said...

Beneficial info and excellent design you got here! I want to thank you for sharing your ideas and putting the time into the stuff you publish! Great work!

Mark H said...

@coach hire: Thanks

@anonymous: Kind remarks - thank you.

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