If my last post about Ljubljana didn’t convince you to visit Slovenia, then I’m sure this next post will.
With three days left in our itinerary, we arrived in Bled and immediately wished we were staying longer. The flat calm lake with a church island dotted in the centre and medieval castle towering over, looking down, just took our breath away. It is truly a romantic, fairy tale setting.
That afternoon, the sun was shining and the clear blue water was calling our names. We spent a few hours relaxing by the lake shore alternating between sun soaked naps and refreshing dips. Then after watching the sun set, filling the lake with a dreamy aura while we sipped on Aperol Spritzes, we had a lovely dinner of grilled fish.
We started the next morning with a 6km run around the lake. It was certainly a slow run as we stopped many times along the way to snap some photos. The picturesque setting just captivated our attention. After breakfast, we visited Vintgar Gorge for a short hike along the river. It was quite busy and the paths narrow but it was a beautiful walk and some amazing scenery. This is definitely a must-visit for anyone in the area.
In the afternoon, we drove to nearby Lake Bohinj. It’s a larger lake, just 30 min away with ample space for swimming, surrounded by mountains. Nearby people were paragliding. Families enjoyed the lakeside. And some kids amused themselves (and us) but repeatedly riding a bike off a low dock and face planting into the water.
When we returned to Bled later that evening, we settled into another scrumptious dinner of pizza and salad, another glorious sunset and some live music from their summer folk festival.
Having read about the Soča Valley and the unimaginably blue turquoise river, we’d be sorry to be so close and miss out. So after another run around the lake (this time counter-clockwise!) and breakfast at our Airbnb apartment, we started on another day trip this time north into the Julian Mountains, about an hour and half away. We followed the road leading to the Vršič Pass, an epic drive from 800m elevation to 1611m via 25 hairpin bends. Our little gas-powered Lancia struggled up some of the 14% grade inclines. (As if we haven’t learned from past experience… we needed a diesel right about then).
And we thought our car was struggling… we saw countless people, of all ages and sizes, going up the mountain on bikes! We passed some families, with teens and pre-teens in tow, attacking the imposing high pass on two wheels. Very impressed by their sense of determination. And what a reward when they’d finally reach their goal.
Once at the top, we took in the majestic views with a short 30min hike to a view-point. Surrounded by mountain tops and lush pine trees, we felt like we were at home in the Rockies.
Then on the way down via another 25 hairpin turns, we reached the river. I couldn’t believe how green it was. And not the gross, too-much-algae green… but a crystal clear green/blue turquoise. The colour could easily be found in a tropical island somewhere, but there it was in the Alps, in the little unassuming country of Slovenia.
What a treat.
We made a pit stop in the resort town of Bovec to re-energize with some coffee and figure out what to do with just the few shorts hours we had. Had we planned better, the best thing to do would have been to spend two or three full days here partaking in all the adventure activities on offer: canyoning, hiking, rafting, and mounting biking.
We did the best we could and started on a short hike, promptly got lost and just stayed by the river side for the rest of the afternoon.
I couldn’t stand in the glacial river for more than 30 seconds… it was cold. Inspired by some people nearby, and given that it was so hot and the water just calling his name, David stripped down to undies and took the plunge. Scared at first at how cold it’d be, he soon acclimatized and had fun in the pools formed by the rocks. I regret not doing it myself… it looked just so refreshing.
We relaxed there until it was time to go. On the way back, we took the longer, but faster route through Italy to return to Bled.
The whole area was incredible, a place I would definitely love to go back to. And given we were in the middle of August, it wasn’t busy at all.
The next morning, before starting the drive back to Venice to catch our plane to Santorini, we packed up our breakfast and hiked up a steep hill to a view-point on the other side of the lake. We happily ate our breakfast with uninterrupted views of Lake Bled and its picturesque church island.
It’s a shame this holiday was hurried. We packed in as much in the short time thus only scratching the surface of what Slovenia has to offer. I’d happily return one day for at least a week to truly enjoy and explore the lovely culture and scenery.
But for now, we’re super grateful to have seen what we’ve seen and share it with others. For a place that was never on our travel bucket list, it did not disappoint.