Slovenia – Bled Lake Region

From Piran, we spent the last few days of our time in Slovenia at Bled Lake.  We took the bus from Piran to Ljubljana and transferred buses to Bled Lake.  All in all, it took just under 3 hours with the transferring of buses in Ljubljana.

The area is beautiful!  Our apartment was about a 15-minute walk from the bus station that took us through the town park and past the lake.  It is one of the top alpine tourist regions in Slovenia and I can understand why.  You are surrounded by a beauty that only nature can provide.

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The park overlooking Bled Island with the Church of the Assumption of Mary.

 

After checking into our apartment, we took a leisurely walk around the lake.  It is on an easy path that is approximately 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) long.  There are some lovely views along the way.  You are welcomed by an eye-catching scene of the lake surrounded by mountains and with a gem of an island adorned with a church on it.  High on a cliff is a castle and nearby the castle is St Martin’s church.  There is a “Kodak moment” every few steps.

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Bled Lake with the Church of the Assumption of Mary on the island.

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The Castle overlooking Bled Lake and St Martin’s Parish Church nearby.

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Another photo of the Church of the Assumption of Mary with a traditional boat, a Pletna, that carries tourist out to the island.

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At this point on the path, you can see the Church of the Assumption of Mary, the castle and St Martin’s Church.

 

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We stopped in to visit St Martin’s Parish Church.

 

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The altar

 

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The choir loft

 

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The colors in this mural were especially eye-catching.

 

 

 

 

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At about the half-way point on the path around the lake, you can get this view of the town of Bled with the mountains in the background.

Tito’s former Villa

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The building to the left is Tito’s former villa.  Josip Tito was “President for Life” and ruled the former country of Yugoslavia from 1963 until his death in 1980.   The building to the right,  Belvedere Pavilion designed by Jože Plečnik, was used as a space for meetings and entertaining.

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Today, the villa is now a hotel with 31 spacious rooms.  People can walk around the well-manicured lawns.

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The driveway to the villa.

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The stairway down to the lake from the villa.

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As you can see, the hydrangeas were in full bloom!

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This is the view from the Belvedere Pavilion. The pavilion is still used as an event center for meetings and entertaining.

 

Bled Island

 

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I took a picture of this postcard to give you an idea of what the Church of the Mother of God looks like without scaffolding!

This island has a long religious history.  Back in the days when people believed in more than one god, there was a temple to the pagan god of love.  In 745 AD, when the population converted to Christianity,  the pagan goddess Živa was replaced by Mary, the mother of God. The Slavic temple was replaced by a church dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary.  Throughout the centuries, improvements have been made to the church.  The 99 step staircase was added in the 1600s.

There are a couple of ways that you can get to the island.  One is by renting a rowboat and rowing there or you can take one of the traditional boats, a Plenta.  A plenta is a flat-bottom boat that is guided by oarsmen who are standing up.  I read that it is a special skilled passed down through families from generation to generation.  These oarsmen are now in a union and it is very difficult for a newcomer to join unless he is related to an oarsman who is retiring and passing his union membership onto a family member.

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There are a couple of places on the lake that you can get a ride on a plenta to the island.  It takes about 20 minutes.  You can stay on the island for about 50 minutes before the boat returns.  It cost somewhere around $15 for a round-trip.

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This was our oarsman.

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A boat full of people heading back to shore after visiting the island.

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You can also rent a rowboat to row to the island or enjoy a leisurely day on the lake.

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I think this guy has the right idea!  A day on the lake with his best friend and an “adult beverage!”

 

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Once at the island, you are faced with climbing the 99 steps.  There is a more gradual path around the back of the island but I think it would still be challenging for someone who has issues with mobility.

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Tradition has it that the groom must carry his bride up the 99 steps to ensure a long and happy marriage!  It is a common sight to see happy couples try to achieve this on Saturdays.  Unfortunately, I was there on a Sunday and didn’t get to see any newlyweds climb the stairs.

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The Church of the Mother of God.  For a fee of about $7 you can visit the church, the bell tower and the art gallery.  However, with only 50 minutes for the visit, I opted to walk around the island enjoying the sights and try a piece of Potica cake.  It is a traditional cake made in Slovenia mostly during important holidays like Christmas and Easter.  The cafe on the island offers it year round, so I decided to try it.

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Potica can be filled with a variety of fillings, cottage cheese, chocolate, nuts, raisins and poppy seeds.  I think this one was chocolate with cottage cheese.  It wasn’t all that good, in my opinion…it was rather dry and not very sweet.

Lake Bohinj

We took a couple of day trips from Lake Bled.  One was to another lake – Lake Bohinj (Bo-hin) which is about a 30-minute bus ride from Bled Lake.  I think that I liked this lake better than Bled Lake!  It was much less developed.  There was a small village at one end of the lake but the rest of the lake seemed to be for campers in tents or recreational vehicles.

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We didn’t spend any time in the village.  I took this picture from the bus when it stopped to pick up passengers.  It is a pretty village with the flowers in the park and surrounded by the mountains.  Close by is the lake!

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Isn’t this just lovely?  The boat is used for tours of the lake.

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Another view of the lake!

We didn’t visit the village because we wanted to go to the top of Vogel Mountain.  The bus stopped right by the entrance.  We had to walk through the parking lot, maybe about 15 minutes or so to the ticket booth to buy a ticket to take the cable car to the top.

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This shows the cables going up the mountain for the cable car.  If you look about halfway up, you can just make out the little dot of the cable car.

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Vogel Mountain is 6,306 ft (or 1922 meters) tall.

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The cable car goes up 5,042 ft or 1537 meters.

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At the top of the mountain was a ski resort with a lodge and hotel.  The restaurant was open if you wished to get a bite to eat before leaving.  There was hiking or you could take the chair lift to the top.  We walked about halfway up to the very top.

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The Vogel Mountain range is in part of the southern Julian Alps and Triglav National Park.  While walking around we could hear the cowbells but couldn’t see the cows until we came upon these guys “tucked” in between two hills.  It reminded me of the Swiss Alps and the cowbells that were on the cows grazing there!

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Fields of wildflowers were everywhere.

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These sweet pink flowers are from the Rhododendron family.

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Our view of the ski lodge, restaurant and hotel with the mountains in the background.

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What an amazing view these paragliders must have had!

I don’t know if you can hear the music in the background of this video but while we were sitting taking in the beauty that was all around us, there was a band playing traditional Slovenian music.  They play accordions and it sounds much like German polka music but this was more of a folk song!

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This is a good “parting shot” for Lake Bohinj.  We were waiting for the bus to head back to Bled Lake when this little guy came along!  It looks like he has ridden like this before and was enjoying the ride!

It was just an excellent day.  Gosh!  I love Slovenia!

Vintgar Gorge

Another day trip we took was to Vintgar Gorge.  It was only a 20-minute bus ride from Bled Lake.  It is a very popular activity for people to enjoy.  That was evident when we arrived and there were about 5 large tour buses in the parking lot.  I am glad that we visited the gorge but it was very crowded.

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This is the beginning of the path that we followed.  As you can see, it is very well maintained.

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There was either the footpath or a boardwalk to walk throughout the gorge.

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Clear water, beautiful surroundings and people walking both ways on the path.  It would have been nice if they were able to have people return a different way and make the path only one-way.  I don’t think the congestion would have been as bad.

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Where there are rocks, there will be sculptures.  I don’t think I would have the patience to try and balance them!

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I know you are thinking, after looking at these photos with few people, what is she talking about?  Believe me, I had to wait for people to pass me to get these photos “people free!”

 

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This bridge and dam were at the end of the path.  .

We could have turned around and walked back to the parking lot to wait for the next bus.  However, I had been chatting with a couple from Manchester, England and they were saying that there was a trail you could follow through the woods that would take you back to Bled Lake. When we got to the end of the path, we saw the trail through the woods.  We decided to walk back to town.  It was quite a hike uphill for a while but once we got out of the gorge, it was level ground.

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Walking up the hill along the trail.

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It was nice to be walking through a nice wood trail and without a large group of people!

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Yes, Virginia, there are fairies in Slovenia!

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St Katherine Church.  We came out to this quaint little church and across the street was a small cafe.  We saw the couple from Manchester that I had been talking to. They were enjoying a cup of coffee.  After we had a rest and I took more pictures we started walking about the same time they did and so we all walked back to Bled together.

 

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Another view of St Katherine Church with the mountains in the background.

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The view from St Katherine Church

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We were no longer following a trail but walking along the side of the road.  This church, St Janez Church was in one of the villages we passed through.

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Off in the distance, is Bled Castle.

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We saw some goats along the way.  This guy wasn’t too excited to see us!

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I liked this drying rack for the hay that had been cut.

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Everywhere I looked, the views were incredible!

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We are so close to Bled with the castle being this close.  We made the walk in about an hour and actually beat the bus back!

Odds and Ends

There was always something new to discover while walking around the lake.

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Seeing the lily pads was a treat and quite unexpected!

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Not to mention mama duck and her ducklings.  They were so cute and stayed very close to mama!

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These are mute swans.  They are called this because they are less vocal than other swans. They are, also, one of the largest and heaviest flying birds.  With its neck outstretched, it can be over 5 ft (160 cm) long.  They can weigh up to 33 pounds (15 kgs).  Even though they are considered a migratory bird, they will stay around if the conditions are right.  The mute swan regularly builds their nests in Slovenia.  Due to their beauty and elegance, these swans have been adopted as the symbol for Bled Lake.

 

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I have never seen a fountain like this!  It is covered with moss and the birds loved splashing around in the shaded area, especially during the hot days that we experienced while at Bled Lake.

 

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Of course, all the guidebooks said that it wouldn’t be a proper trip to Bled Lake unless we had a piece of cream cake…which is another symbol of Bled. Ištvan Lukačevič, the former manager of the Hotel Park patisserie in Bled, created this delicacy!  I didn’t know if I would like it because of the whipped cream….something that doesn’t always like me!  It was delicious!

 

Cafe Peglez'n

We enjoyed our cream cake at Cafe Peglez’n near the park.

 

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These little birds had no fear!  We would put a small piece of crust on our finger and hold it still.  The little birds would hop on over and take the crust off of our finger!  Then, when I was done eating, he just hopped up to the plate and got what he could.

 

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This little guy looks like he is saying “What do you mean there isn’t anymore?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wish that we had spent less time on the coast of Slovenia and more time in the Bled area.  There were so many nearby places to explore or enjoy a hike!

I hope that one day you will get to go and enjoy this beautiful country.  When you go, please think of me!

May you be filled with joy and sparkles!  ✨✨✨❤️✨✨✨

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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