Bled days and Bed nights

Bled Travel Blog

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Well our/my knack for tunrning up to the right things at the right time seems to be working well.  We arrived in Bled in the north-west of the country high (ish) in the Julian alps on Friday, with the Bled days festival in full swing.  The local festival involving music, fireworks, drinking, local crafts, gondala races with the venetians, covering the entire lake in eggshells with tea lights inside (awesome!) and some more fireworks.  All in all a bit of a good time to arrive in this pretty town on the edge of a beautiful lake.  The lake really is amazing, with a gorgeous light blue greeny colour, so clear, and really warm, about 23 degrees, which makes it amazing to swim in.  The air temp has been good too, around thirty on the hot days, and mid twenties on the cooler cloudier days (two of those).  Another amazing thunderstorm, which began to roll in across the alps during the Friday night fireworks displays, fireworks backlit my lightning is pretty cool.  Plus it all ended before the rain arrived!  The lake is only two kilometers long (just enough space for a rowing course, which of course there is one!, and I think the World Champs is being held here in a year or two), about six kilomteres to walk around so not very big.  Theres an island in the middle with a small church on, which we visited.  A castle on a big rock on the lake side (which I'm about to visit, but to be honest I'm getting a bit castled out at the moment having been to Postojna, Ljubljana and Warwick in the past two weeks).  A couple of "beaches" to enjoy the sun on and swim from (round the other side of the alke, cunnningly they charge six euros for the beach in Bled for those too lazy to realise that the lake isn't all that big!).  All in all its extremely picturesque.

And being right insidethe Julian alps it means that small excursions give big rewards.  On our first full day we visited Vintgar gorge, which was very pretty with waterfalls and such.   Then we took the long route back which was a couple of hours walking through the woods.  Slovenia seems to be mostly forest.  And then through the alpine fields with wild flowers, the distinctive hayracks which dot the landscape (the ground is too wet to dry hay on the ground like we do in england so its hung up on what is basically a very large towel rail about three metres high and ten metres long per section.  Then there ma be multiple sections, or added bits etcetera.  These hayracks are one of Slovenias national symbols and they are very pretty in front of a beautiful mounatiny background with the sun shining.  We also took the opportunity to rent a few bikes and head off on a slightly longer, muddier trip.  This was also good fun amongst the scenery but some of the climbs were pretty tough.  I suprised myself at being rather good at road based hill climbs (Bradley Wiggins-esque!!).  But I've got a lot to learn about downhill mountain biking.

Bled is fast becoming an adventure capital.  In the last five years (since Slovenia has joined the EU, being pretty much the most successful country of the ones that did join at that time) it has turned from hotels on the beach, family and rich people orientated town (it was one of the big destinations for the well to do aristocrats in Britain for a long time, with a direct train to London.  And has become a backpacker mecca (about fifty hostels apparently, not quite sure if I fully believe that, but there are a lot) adventure city.  I do love it here.  One of the things we did here was canyoning.  This involves jumping, sliding or abseiling off waterfalls in a full neoprene suit.  Very scary, but you get such a huge adrenaline rush.  Although to be honest I wasn't such a big fan.  The abseils (the best bit in my opinion) were too short and were not really in the waterfall but beside it.  And I'm not great at jumping either as I don't get enough distance to avoid going in under the waterfall or hitting the rockson the side!  Whilst it was good fun it just wasn't as good as the time we did it in Huaraz in Peru.  But oh well.  Still got the buzz.

I feel I was a little harsh on people in the last blog, nothing wrong with Italians of course.  Though the Irish have lost several rankings points when a large group of them decided to shout very loudly outside our hostel window for an hour and a half last night, between one thirty and three in the morning.  That wasn't fun.  Also tours aren't all that bad.  I spend my time on tours, they are the best way to see a lot of stuff quickly.  Just that travelling between places independantly really lets you see the country.  One of the guys on a long distance tour was oblivious to some of the very simple points of Slovenian culture (the beautiful and evocative hayracks that dot the alpine countryside for one example), he was from Surrey and looked like my dentist (the guy, not the hayracks).  Anywho, I guess we can all be accused of travel snobbery occasionally!

Afterall, the best thing we did whilst here in Bled was a tour around Triglav national park. It was a minibus based tour with a friendly guide (really nice guy but we've forgotten his name so we'll just have to refer to him as Tim from now on, as is the tradition.  We visited Kranjska Gora lake and the statue of Zlatorog there (a mythical goat based creature) with some fine views of the alps.  We had a small hike on top of Virsic pass at 1611m and to the source of the Soca river below (it emerges from the mountain due to an impermeable fault in the limestone, its all Triassic limestone round here).  We went white water rafting which was great fun.  I love white water rafting.  And even though it wasn't quite up to the standard of the Zambezi I still really enjoyed it.  Chris jumped off a ten metre high bridge, whilst we watched and didn't take photos!  And we had another mini-hike to another waterfall at Kozjak.  We did it with a company called 3glav, who were amazong and really helpful.  Definitely recommend them.  And finally there was a scenic train journey with the minibus loaded onto the back of a flat bed train, with beers, and tunelsto play around with.  It was yet another beautiful part of this great part of the world.  And finally a quick visit to Bohinj lake as the sun began to set behind the mountains.  We returned tired but happy, a great day.

Thats all for now, we're off to Zagreb tomorrow.  There may be a Slovenia round up Blog at some point, depends if I've got anything to say!  Till then...

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photo by: wilber85