Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Slovenia - Ljubljana and Bled

The next day we were up at 6.30, bags out at 7.00, breakfasted and on the road at 8.00.
Destination Bled in Slovenia.
There was no border control and we drove through. The weather was pretty grim, not just showers today but rain, sometimes it was quite slow going on the roads as the showers became heavy. The scenery changed as we went into Slovenia, you knew that you were no longer in Italy. The small holdings were more productive and the evidence of the old 'regime' was there in that every village, community or small town had some common business of employment,  concrete works, farm, wood working etc.

We had a quick morning tea and pee stop before arriving in Ljubljana around 1.00pm. We donned our shower proofs but soon got quite wet as they were just that - 'shower' proof and not 'rain' proof.

                          this was outside the Ljubjlana puppet theatre, near the funicular station.

We trudged behind our lovely local guide through the streets and then took the funicular railway up to the castle. There was a very good 'virtual tour' presentation and then we explored the castle a little, it was a shame it was raining because there was a great view from up there.

Soon we headed down the hill for a wet walking tour of the old quarter of Lubjiana.

Due to the weather, we had arrived about an hour late to start our tour, and our guide was determined to show us everything, so it was around 2.30pm when we finished. Several people were in real need of food, us included so as soon as the guide said 'that's it' we were off to a nice restaurant that we'd past earlier. We raced along with Ralph and Hanny and found that we were following Jenny and Peter from our group. We got a table for 6, ordered beers and then lunch. Soup is always welcome on a cold wet day. I ordered onion soup in a bread cup. Not only did it look spectacular it tasted great too. I then had venison pate, strong tasting and delicious. Michael loves a fry up so went for the local version - which included a turnip pattie and sauerkraut, it was enormous (he didn't /couldn't eat it all) and although the white pudding was excelllent he was a little disappointed in the black pudding.
 (Have decided to take photos of the more spectacular meals, so you can see what I mean.)

We dragged lunch out until around 3.45 and then went out to have a quick walk along the main street.

 It had stopped raining, and we had a very pleasant stroll long the streets, then down to the river and back to our meeting place.

 Parked outside an hotel was an old Rolls Royce that 2 Dutch guys were driving around the world, I took photos but was miffed to see that his around Australia section did not include Perth.

We left Lubjiana and drove on to Bled. There was white stuff ontop of the mountains (which were getting closer) and I don't think it's icing sugar!

Our tour manager, Antonia, prepared us for the first sight of the lake as we drove into the town of Bled. She was right, it was one of those WOW! moments.
Absolutely breathtaking - the only sound on the bus was of camera shutters.

Our hotel was on the shore of the lake with absolutely splendid views. No one had a lake side room but we weren't going to be spending a lot of time in the room. There was a balcony at the end of the corridor (next to our room), with table and chairs which looked out over the lake to the church on the island, a great place to relax with a glass or two.

We checked in around 5.30pm and were all down in the lobby at 6.30 to walk alongside the lake to our restaurant for dinner.  It was a nice dinner, but not a memorable one, none of the dishes merited a photo.
We had a lovely stroll back to the hotel, enjoying a european evening.

                                                (a pity about the crane up at the castle)

It was Eurovision night but no one we spoke to shared our enthusiasm. We went to our room and found the tv station broadcasting the show and were lucky enough to catch Australia's entry. We also saw the favourite, Sweden - a very good song. We couldn't keep our eyes open to watch the whole show and then the scores so we switched off and were soon asleep.

The next day we were up at 7.20 and then down to a lavish breakfast - they even had champagne!! The dining rrom was on the lake side and it was hard to move away from the table and the views.

We boarded the coach for a very short drive along the lake to the boat moorings, and a trip across to Bled Island, the island in the middle of the lake. As we got off the coach, a local guide met us and we had a short walk passing Tito's summer palace which is now an hotel.

We split into 2 groups and carefully boarded the little boats. These Pletna boats are the traditional boats of this area. Our boatman had made his own boat, and had been paddling / an oarsman for over 30 years. His son was manning the other boat.

Here is the legend about the creation of Bled Island ( copied directly from the Bled Island visitor pass )-
 According to a folk legend Bled Island was formed a long time ago from pastures and meadows where a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary stood on a low hill.The sheep that grazed on the pasture would often wander into the open chapel, but the locals were completely indifferent to the fact that animals were desecrating a place of worship. Despite Divine warnings to build a fence around the chapel, the people did nothing. Finally God flooded the pastures in order to protect the sacred place.

The way up to the church is to climb 99 steps.
Tradition has it that when getting married in the church the groom has to carry the bride up the steps to the church. The girls are keener on maintaining the tradition than the boys.
We all got up there, got our breath back and went into the lovely little church. Here there is another tradition - if you ring the bell 3 times and make a wish, you wish will be granted.
I queued and pulled the bell rope - don't want to risk it not being true.

Most people only get 30 minutes on the island but our tour manager treated the boatman to morning tea and we got an extra 15 minutes on this idyllic little spot.

                                                                      (Swan - Lake)

Then we were up at the castle with all the other tourists, hordes of them and it's only the start of the season.

 We saw a very quick demonstration of printing on hand made paper, on a 1000 year old printing press and then we had a bit of free time to wander before heading back.

An English school choir was touring the area and were performing in the main square of the castle (they had given a little concert at the hotel last night).
They were rather good, we especially enjoyed Alexander's Rag time Band.

We were back at the hotel just after 12 noon, so nice and early for lunch. We walked into town and sat outside at a little cafe, enjoying a Greek Salad and a Chicken Wrap. The local beers are very smooth, and cheap so we had a 'grandee' each.

Then I made Michael do a little window shopping which turned into shopping and my first souvenir purchase. A lovely little ceramic cat - not a specific Bled souvenir, but it will always remind me of this beautiful place.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing and dinner was back at the same cafe for a burger, a schnitzel and more beer. Several of the group wandered past and we were soon a group of 8 for dinner.
Then back to watch a bit of telly, if we could find an English programme other than CNN news.

Slovenia is really lovely, clean air and beautiful scenery. We could have spent another couple of days in Bled, especially at the Grand Toplice Hotel, such grand surroundings on the lake side and the amazing back drop of the mountains.
But... time to move on into Croatia.

No comments:

Post a Comment