Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Till this day Lake Bled is still one of my absolute favorite places in all of Europe! 
In October 2013 we headed down to Croatia for a weekend getaway. On our way back from Croatia we stopped off in Bled, Slovenia for the night to break up the drive. Slovenia, is a little land locked country that often gets confused with Slovakia. I know when I was planning the trip Drew kept asking me why we were going all the way to Slovakia from Croatia, it was crazy to do that in a weekend. I had to explain many times the differences between Slovenia and Slovakia, but eventually he got it.
We left Croatia in the afternoon after an exciting day at Plitvice National Park, we drove 5 hours to Lake Bled. Slovenia is a beautiful country. The Slovenian Alps are considered to be one of the best, and highly underrated part of the Alps. One day we'll go skiing there.
When we finally arrived at our hotel it was dusk. Gotta love the fall. We stayed at the Hotel Astoria for 80 euros a night. It included WiFi, Parking and Breakfast. The reason I booked it was because of it's proximity to Lake Bled. It was a 5-minute walk to the lake. Our room also had an amazing view of the Bled Castle! It was a great little hotel, if it accepted pets I would go back in a heartbeat!

Our View for the night
After checking into our hotel we decided to get some dinner. We plugged in food to our GPS and got rerouted in circles around Lake Bled for 15 minutes. It got to the point where we were both frustrated because once we finally found a place, it was closed! I can't remember how we stumbled upon the little pizza place, but we found a place to eat, and it was open. That was all that mattered to us. I wish I had taken a picture of the size of the pizza they gave us. We ordered a medium size pizza each, when the waiter told us how big a pizza was he said we would be able to eat one each. He was wrong. One of the things I will remember most about Slovenia is their portion sizes. Its huge! Drew and I could've split a pizza and still had leftovers. The prices were really cheap too. For our pizzas and drinks, plus tip we spent less than 20 euros!
Since it was dark when we arrived we didn't check out the sites, we decided to get a good night sleep and wake up early so we could check everything out.

The first thing we wanted to do was check out the famous Lake Bled. We got up early and headed down to the lake. I guess Slovenian's sleep in because there was hardly anyone out. We found the TI and they told us that since we only had one day here we should either rent a boat and row to the little island (Drew would've been rowing, I would be supervising) or we could hire someone to go with. We wanted to optimize our time in Bled, so we chose to find one of the motorized boats. Only, since we were the only ones up, the company wanted to wait an extra 20 minutes to see if anyone else was interested in going. We took advantage of it and found some of the souvenir shops and scouted out prices.

When we arrived back at the harbor, there were 4 other people waiting to head to the island. They were English speakers too! Come to find out they were from NY and they were vacationing in Europe. Maybe it was our age, I still say it's Drew, but they instantly knew he was military. I tell Drew all the time he looks like someone in the military. Haha.
In the middle of Lake Bled is Bled Island, (They're so imaginative with their names). On Bled Island, there is a church, actually the whole island is basically the church, it is called The Church of the Assumption.

On the platform at the peak of the island, there is an older medieval branch with Baroque alterations with a separate bell tower and a Baroque crown along with some secondary buildings . The office of the provost stood on the island already in the 17th century, the vicarage a hundred years later. The stone staircase with 99 stairs, which was formed in Baroque period on the south side of the island, is especially famous. We paid 3 euros each to climb the 99 steps, I counted there are exactly 99 steps. I wouldn't suggest doing it. We thought we were going to get some great views of the island and lake, and yes there were some pretty nice views, but we weren't able to take any pictures of it because of the mesh surrounding the windows! So to me it wasn't worth it because we couldn't get any pictures. Plus there really is nothing to do while you're up there.

99 Steps!

The Sidles' @ Bled Lake

So we headed off into the church, there were groups of people standing in line in front of the altar, waiting patiently to be able to ring the bell. At the time we had no idea what was so special about it, so I didn't ring the bell, Drew did. On our way back to the mainland, the boat driver told us that their is a legend that the bell would grant wishes. A Japanese Princess was having troubles getting pregnant, so they traveled all the way to Slovenia to ring the bell, and a month after she returned to Japan she was pregnant. Looking back I guess I should have rung the bell.

Our boat driver told us that we needed to try the Bled cream cake, A cream slice made of leaves of dough, fi lled with vanilla and sweet cream that was invented after the Second World War. We had no idea what was so special about it. Bled is famous for it and people come from all over the world to try it. Of course we had to try it too. The cake did not disapoint. Drew and I split one, we learned from the night before how big their portions were, and I'm glad we ended up splitting one. I know I wouldn't have been able to eat one on my own.

After filling up on Cream cake, we headed to Bled Castle. From the Lake you can walk to the castle. It is do-able. But it is all uphill. If you have a car, I would suggest driving to the top. There is free parking. I'm glad we thought of doing it. The castle was going to be the last stop before we headed home.

Bled Castle had the best views of the Lake. Actually I think it had the best views period. There is a small fee to get in, but in my opinion it was worth it. We explored the castle on our own getting the best views of the town. We even got to watch as people made their own wine! I wish we would've stayed and made some wine our selves, but I was anxious to get on the road and there was a long line of people, so we promised that we would be back and decided to head home.
All in all it was a great little stop over. Like I said Slovenia is a country I would go back to in a heartbeat!