Here are 2 "tickler" pictures. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger view. If you read on, you'll get more info on the pictures.
We did not get off to a good start in Slovenia. We hit a dead-stopped 2 hour stau (traffic jam) near Spittal (in Austria) on the Autobahn A10 coming south from Salzburg. Arrived at Pension Bomi in Bled after dark. I had been anxious to see how beautiful this place was for myself. Jeff's pictures from his motorcycle trip in May had given me a good idea how much I would love it! I was disappointed to see nothing of it on the way in. However, the staff at the pension made us feel right at home and we were happy to get a good night's rest. (THERE ARE LINKS BELOW TO MANY OF THE PLACES MENTIONED IN THIS TRIP REPORT, INCLUDING PENSION BOMI, AND JEFF'S TRIP TO SLOVENIA IN MAY).
Bled offers spas, thermal pools, casino, swimming areas with slides and other kids' attractions, hiking, rowing and even skiing opportunities. Perhaps the most photographed sight here is the small lake, just large enough for an island with a glorious church in the middle. It is a very enchanting area, and a reasonably priced travel destination. There are many accommodations, from gasthauses to luxury hotels (such as Marshall Tito's old mansion). Camping Bled is right on the lake and looked to be a top-notch facility, too. Parking is controlled, to protect the lake shores, and costs a small amount.
A brief summary of some of the things we saw follows. Even the constant drizzle didn't dampen our lust for this adventure!
BLEJSKI GRAD (Bled Castle)
We started out the day at the castle which overlooks Lake Bled and the town. This castle has one of the most incredibly beautiful courtyards I have ever seen. We appreciated the covered stone pavillion since it was raining. It was a perfect spot to stop and take in the grand view, protected from the rain. Flowers surround the courtyard walls and the entrance to the small chapel.
|The church is decorated with painted frescos on all the walls. We found it interesting that apparently in historic chapels in Slovenia, it is the custom to toss money on the floor. Perhaps these are offerings which aid in funding the maintenance of these structures?
The castle is now a museum containing exhibits of medieval furniture, excavated historic relics from the area, and some weaponry and even a skeleton. This was a very interesting half-day excursion. Food and souveniers are available within the castle walls, too.
One of the wonders of the Triglav National Park is the Vintgar Gorge, 1600 meters long, 250 meters deep. It was carved out ages ago by the Radovna River. An easy hike over wooden bridges and walkways built into the side of the cliffs over the river offers a spectacular view of the unbelievably clean, agua water, and the tumbling falls and rapids below your feet. The wooden walkways were first built in 1891, and remain the only way to traverse the gorge. This was about an hour's hike, well worth the $1.50 charge to access the paths.
Another short drive in the Triglav Park, through some beautiful alpine farmland took us to the "pearl of the Julian Alps", Lake Bohinj. The whole basin is beautiful, full of picturesque, tiny villages, unspoiled (protected) lake shores, and some of the clearest, cleanest water I have ever seen. Foot long trout and other fish swim right up the the beaches. You can see them from shore.
The 15th century St. John the Baptist church anchors one end of the lake. The Savica Falls feed the lake from the other side. A short but steep hike takes you to the lookout giving a great view of the falls. You can recuperate from the hike at the restaurant at the head of the trail, and enjoy a bite to eat and a drink. We enjoyed some very fresh trout, cousins to the ones we viewed at the beach on the lake.
The return to the pension was not simply "the way back." We saw some of the most beautiful villages anywhere in the world on this short drive from Dom. Savica (the falls) around the northern edge of Bohinjsko Jezero (lake Bohinj), through Studor (we loved the double-level hay toplars (racks)), Srednja Vas, Cesnjica and back down to the main road along the north bank of the Sava Bohinjka River to Bled. There were many homes with signs crying "Sobe" here, (rooms for rent). Absolutely an idyllic setting for a romantic get-away! A glorious picture of Srednja Vas is below! (*** You could stay here - see link at bottom of the page!!!)
CHAPEL IN THE LAKE AT BLED
After a short rest (we didn't need to recharge, but the camera batteries did!) my wonderful, romantic husband borrowed the gasthaus' boat and rowed me out to the chapel in the lake (in the rain, no less!). What a great time. I've never experienced anything like this in my life! You can also hire a "pletna" to take you to the island, if able-bodied, handsome men are in short supply on your own trip "-). Click on the thumbnail picture at the top of the page to see the pletnas.
The steps to the chapel come right down to the water (click on the other thumbnail at the top of the page). We were welcomed to the island by the pealing of the church bells. There were almost no other visitors there, so we took a peaceful, solitary tour of the church and small grounds.
Jeff earns good husband points today!
One of the altars - the "Angel of Death" is depicted in the painting here.
There is a delightful legend about the church bell.
|THE BELL OF DESIRE
Folk tales claim that around 1534 a young man and his wife lived in Castle Bled. Robbers murdered the young husband and threw his body in the lake. The inconsolable wife ordered craftsman Franziskus Patavinus to cast all her gold and silver jewelry into a bell for the chapel on the island. The bell never arrived. A horrible storm sunk the boat, the bell and all the crew on the journey to deliver the bell. After this new tragedy, the young widow then sold all her property and gave the money to the chapel. She went to Rome and lived as a nun until she died. The Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to the chapel. Today you can ring the bell (right) and make a wish to the merciful "lady of the lake." Supposedly, on some nights you can hear the bell ringing from the depths of the lake.
We heard no bells on our last evening in Bled, though they would have been the perfect conclusion to our enchanted trip to Slovenia! We will be back!
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