Dan and I agree that Lake Bled in Slovenia is the most beautiful and picturesque lake that we have ever visited. We are fortunate that the initial rainy weather when we arrived, did not plague our whole stay, and that the sun eventually broke through the clouds to make the water sparkle and the lush greenery vibrate with life.
This was our first stop that we did not plan well. First, we missed our train stop, adding another hour to our journey as we had to backtrack. Secondly, we arrived without reservations, finding ourselves at a train station without tourist info, too far from the city center for the children to walk with their backpacks. We must have wasted another hour or two arranging transportation, getting to the main tourist office (15 minutes before closing!), and trying to find a reasonable place to stay in a very booked up city. We said, “Never again”, but have already broken that rule.
Although Lake Bled provides an awesome array of outdoor adventures, like rafting, canoeing, caving, abseiling, etc., about as wild as we got was taking two rides on a downhill sled (similar to a luge). Apparently, I was screaming in Gabriel’s ears the whole way down.
Our morning began with visiting the swans at the lake’s edge, feeling like we had just teleported into a fairytale. We boarded a pletna (a hand rowed boat) which took us to a little island in the center of the lake, home to an old chapel and tower. Later, we visited the Bled castle atop a high hill of rock, with amazing views of Lake Bled below, the majestic alps around, and distant farmland, splashing out on a fancy lunch to more fully absorb the splendid vistas.
The warm weather kept improving as we walked the entire 6 km (4 mile) perimeter of the lake, relenting to Gabriel and Stella’s urgent pleas to stop and swim. They had no swimsuits, but were quickly convinced that a dip in their skivvies would not be a problem. They wasted no time jumping into the cold, clean water, and shivered with glee.
Boy am I thankful for digital cameras! Every time I thought I had snapped the perfect shot, I walked around another bend, and I had to take another photo. It was hard to decide which angle, and what lighting could possibly encapsulate how spectacular this place is. I could not put down my iPhone, and had a difficult time editing. Lake Bled is simply dripping with charm.
The next day we rented a car and headed to Vintgar Gorge, where we hiked on a very long wooden platform path, clinging to the rock-walled interior of a narrow gorge. It was lightly raining, and the rushing river currents had mist and fog hovering near its’ waterfalls. We’ve never been on a trail quite like it.
We continued our journey through the Julian Alps and the steep seasonal Vrsic pass, with its’ 80 plus switchbacks. Once again, the sun would break through the clouds just long enough to reveal some of the higher peaks and crags. We soon entered Soca Valley, home to the famous Soca River, which has the exact color of daiquiri ice cream. We spent the night in the small village of Bovec, another adrenaline junkie mecca, for river sports and motor cycling routes, staying in a quaint home run by a sweet Slovenian lady, who kindly gifted us with walnuts, pears and apples from her garden.
I think one of my strongest impressions of the Slovenian countryside will be of the abundance of flowers, vegetable gardens and fruit trees. All the greenery, colorful flora and vegetation must be growing in super steroid soil! It seems like it would be impossible for a gardener to fail in this verdant land.