We awake to the first day of autumn to clear blue skies. Yesterday’s rains are banished, so Bled here we come! But not before that all important stop at a local supermarket. I might have forgotten my language skills, but childhood favourites are still very much in mind. I’m not sure I’d really feel like I was here unless those are to hand. In my basket are chevapchichi, ajvar, hazelnut wafers, chocolate covered cherries and a long longed for treat, Kajmak, a soured cream version of clotted cream to be enjoyed with much relish. I only just restrained myself from stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls and feffernuse (tiny iced, peppered honey biscuits) but I’m sure their time will come. I can see I’ll have to crack open the memory banks in some level, even if it’s only to do justice to ordering from delicatessens. Childhood memories so sated, we resume our journey to Bled.
Lake Bled was always going to be on the list. Even though I know very little about Slovenia, I know it’s a highlight. Funny story: at the edge of Lake Bled sits Slovenia’s only natural island, Blejski otok. With its beautiful church “The Mother of God of The Lake” perched atop, it appears in all the photographs of the area, including, and here’s the funny bit – our hard copy maps of Europe, our Slovenian guidebook and completely coincidentally, my background photo on my tablet. Despite having these individual things for years, I only put it together today. Of all the stock photos I could have picked…
We arrive and walk the short distance to the lake. Oh! It’s so beautiful, with clear waters of deep blue and green, depending on how the sun touches it.
Lake Bled is a glacial lake, carved out at the end of the last ice age. With a 6km perimeter, full of bike and walking trails, a castle overlooking it, many restaurants, bars and cafes, it makes a perfect holiday destination.
We arrive just in time to catch a boat to the island. Not just any boat, but a gorgeous traditional canopied wooden row boat, a pletna, rowed by hand all the way there and back.
With a passenger load of 20, our oarsman must be a fit boy. The views on the way are stunning and without an an engine to spoil it, serene in the extreme.
My only grizzle is that the sun was against me for the perfect island shot.
Once there, we see how tiny it really is. 30 minutes is more than enough to lap it, shimmy up the 99 stairs to the top, admire the Church, and stand in line for what turns out to be a truly excellent ice-cream.
The lake is full of fish of a wide variety, fresh water crayfish too. The teeny fish hide in the shallow shadows. Safety in numbers is the name of this game. Look at them all!
All too soon it’s time to go back. Our intrepid boatman has not been sitting idle – he rowed back with a prior group and picked up a new boatload of visitors during our visit. And he’s not even out of breath. Good grief.
On our return we walk part way around the lake.
I’m very impressed at all the choices available, from vendors selling roasted chestnuts and local specialities to high end dining. The focus is, as always in the Balkans, on meat. We walk up to yet another church with a pretty tiled roof, and inspect the steep climb to the Castle. We’ll save that for another day.
Our good intentions to walk back, change and head out for dinner come to nil. Once we’re home Chris is tired from the intensity of mountain driving for days. He pleads exhaustion and I let him of the hook. With chevapchichi in the fridge and regional treats galore, it’s no hardship.