Summer around Lake Bled

If you want to beat the crowds you have to get up early! Hence the saying … ‘The early bird catches the worm’

We got going and walked up the steep hill as well as  the 300 steps to reach the castle. I think we were almost first there . The climb really tested the knees!

The last little bit of uphill. All worth it.

The view back over the lake was beautiful.

We met a nice Israeli man who asked me to take his photo. Well at least 30 photos in various locations around the castle made me want to hide! Or charge a fee. Especially after the prayer position in the Chapel.

The castle is very small by the standard of other castles in Europe and was extensively damaged in two earthquakes back in the 1600’s and 1700’s. It’s been rebuilt with new uses in mind and is therefore very pretty for a castle. There are also workshops set up in some of the rooms, a blacksmith, and we met the loveliest young printer. I must say the men here are very handsome.

Lovely young printer in the print shop. Born and bred in Bled.

After coffee we left the castle and made our way back down the very steep hill to join the walkway around the lake. It’s a 5 km walk and we didn’t hurry. This left time to observe the lake from all angles, observe our fellow travellers, see the activities people get up to, have a swim and of course a gelato.

A novel way of keep cans cool. The little waterfall just keeps flowing over the cans which turns the bucket they are sitting in.

There were a number of interesting sculptures.

I particularly liked this sculpture of a rower. Rowing is huge over here. The world championships are coming up soon.

There were a number of people fishing. Mind you we didn’t see anything being caught. Their gear was all very coordinated and we wondered if they had hired it?

We reached a little beach. Lots of families were paddling and swimming so we moved around the corner and set up our things for a swim. Steve headed off and I sat for awhile before hitting the beautiful water and swimming out to the island. It was about 1 km and was just lovely. I joined a group of teenagers. A swim camp I think but after a bit they pulled away from me! I wonder why?

Just past our swim spot I noticed all these little fish enjoying their swim

When we’d finished we were enjoying the sun and the quiet when along came the local scout group. There must have been 60 little kids around 6-10 years old who carried rolled up mats, little scarves around their necks and bags stuffed with swimming gear. They wasted no time in discarding clothes and putting on their swimmers. All very relaxed.

They hit the shallows and no body seemed to be overly concerned that most didn’t seem able to swim. They stayed with in their depth and splashed around and most didn’t even put their head under.

We continued our walk and saw lots of little groups splashing around when they could get into the lake safely.

Of course I spotted a wedding.

Quite the meringue style dress but she looked lovely. Note the hydrangeas. They are everywhere around the lake.

A few more views of the castle and the church – which we visited earlier today.

We finished and enjoyed a beer and salad before heading back to our apartment. Then it clouded over, the wind blew, the thunder came, and we’ve just had a beauty of a storm. When it blows over we’ll head out for the boat ride to the church on the island.

This little bird joined us on the deck for lunch!

Oh What a Wonderful World 

Today travelled out of beautiful little Ljubljana through lush countryside and arrived in Paradise.

I’d heard good things about Lake Bled but it is just so beautiful I’m short of words to describe it! and the weather is glorious.

We got off the bus after a 50 min easy coach ride and walked around the corner and down a little hill to the most beautiful view of the lake. And there was our accommodation. Close to the bus, opposite a park falling down a gentle slope to the lake.

The only downside is we don’t have a view of the lake from our apartment. But who wants to be in the apartment – as lovely as it is? We arrived too early to enter the apartment so left our bags and took ourselves off for a walk.

Lake Bled is a lake in the Julien Alps in the NW of Slovenia. It is 2.1km long and 1.4km at it widest. It has a small island, and on the island is a beautiful church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. The church has a tower which stands tall across the lake.

Steve swimming with the beautiful church behind him

Bled also has a castle perched atop a steep cliff about 100 m above the lake. Talk about dramatic.

We will visit the castle tomorrow.

We stopped lake side for a salad and healthy juice as we  planned an afternoon swim. We did share one the famous Lake Bled Crema pastries – like a vanilla slice.

Note the 2 spoons. We shared.

After checking in to our very cute clean apartment we headed off in swimmers to the beach and boatshed. Lifesaver Steve decided we should row across the lake to the island and have a swim. There is a lido where for 6 euro you can get access to a large roped off area of the lake with inflatable things, a slide, some pontoons and lots of lawn to stretch our on.

We hired a boat. And off we – well Steve – rowed. I gave navigational directions!

We got to the little island in good time and tied up in one of the parking spots and joined some of the swimmers jumping off the dock. Unlike the jumpers who just jumped then climbed back we head off for a swim around the island. It was , according to Steve’s fancy swimmers watch, 750 m and we did it in 15 mins. So not too far! And it was delightful. Water temp was good and it was so clean and clear.

I had a little row coming back so Steve could take another short swim with the church behind him.

After our swim and returning the boat we lazed on the grass beside the lake and read and people watched. There are lots of people around but it doesn’t feel crowded. Some nice family groups with small children. We watched the little boats coming and going from the church island. It’s actually a little reminiscent of last year’s stay in Perast Montenegro where there was a similar church island in the bay.

Cute boats transport people. Rather plain hotel in the back ground.

We were having a little lie down and a nap when we heard snorting! Eyes opened to see a little horse grazing nearby. A man had  horse on a lead and was letting him graze –  then every now and then a small child would wander up and he’d offer a ride.

So now it’s time to shower and change for dinner. We haven’t quite decided where to go tonight. Probably somewhere with a view on the menu!

Under the green and in the caves of Slovenia.

Lovely and cool this morning as we walked to the train station on our way to the Skocjan Caves about an hour south west of Ljubljana. We’d heard these Caves were worth visiting so planned a day through the countryside to get to them.

What we didn’t plan was the train being changed to a bus. Not sure why. You don’t get too many explanations on matters of transport!

The bus proved to be considerably slower as we wound through the lush countryside. They don’t know the meaning of drought here in Slovenia. It’s green and well forested.

Outside the cave it was green and bright

The surrounding countryside

Steve outside the cave


The villages are reminiscent of German, Swiss or Austrian villages. They are neat and tidy with flowering window boxes on all the houses. They have well stacked woodpiles near each house – an early preparation for winter, well tended veggie patches and lots play equipment for the children.

I love Italy but must say the Slovenians are much neater. No rubbish by the roads. Just beautiful.

We arrived at the train station – in the bus – and had missed the shuttle to the caves.  A very kind young man named Bognor who was having a coffee in the station cafe insisted on driving us the 2 km to the caves. He also took along two young German girls who we had befriended from the bus. Such a kind young man.

Laura and Francie stayed with us throughout the tour and we had a great time

So by 1 pm we were ready for the walk through the caves. I was completely unprepared for the spectacle we were to see. It was magnificent, amazing  and not to be missed. These caves are Unesco listed and are grand and spectacular.

We were underground for about 2 hours walking through the various chambers and were completely knocked out by what we saw. Photos are prohibited and they wouldn’t do it justice anyway. We walked along the man-made concrete paths looking at the stalactites and stalagmites in the largest underground canyon in the world. Up and down we climbed. 500 steps as well as the long walkways winding up and around the chambers. We walked across a bridge about 100 metres underground and 100 metres above the river flowing through the cave.

Daylight after 2 hours underground. Spectacular

Please look up these caves and see some photos. I don’t have any to share.


After we arrived back in Ljubljana we celebrated our great day with  – you guessed -Aperol and a beer, then had a great dinner at Valvasor restaurant. Such beautiful food. Tempura asparagus followed by grilled tuna on a bed of vegetables and a delicious white wine Malvazija. Such a great day



Getting to know a new city

I find the best way to get to know a new place quickly is to do a walking tour.

A map of Ljubljana. Note the old town and the castle above it.

Generally you get a really informed local who likes to meet people. Why else would you do this job? In the last few places we have visited we used Tours for Tips – a company with tours operating all over the world. Here Steve booked one in the local travel centre.

We slept well and headed out for a walk and coffee before meeting at 10am at the City Hall. Our guide – I think her name was Carmen – was a woman in her forties with a charming direct personality, who grew up here in Ljubljana. She knew a lot about the workings of the city and is an interested foodie and gave us lots of hints on the local food.

Entrance to the restaurant with local products

In fact, after orientation to get ourself into the cities history – we entered the city hall building to do this – we headed to a typical restaurant to taste the local sausage- a Kransky style pork sausage served with horseradish cream. This was followed by a small taste of their walnut pastry called potica. Like many of these European cities,  cakes and pastries are consumed as a national pastime. No-one worries about eating too much. I’m also very keen to try their vanilla slice.

History is reflected in the food. Austria has been very obvious in the history here and you see it as you notice the cakes and pastries in the windows of the shops.

We walked along cobbled streets, past the Cathedral and it’s magnificent doors, and caught the funicular up to the castle. There has been a very clever restoration of the castle. The new blends in with the old so well. The rooms are now used as a museum, restaurant, the civic centre for weddings, and a beautiful chapel where you can sit in the quiet and take in the art and frescoes covering the ceiling and walls. A tall, rather handsome gentleman was sitting demonstrating his calligraphy art, making name plates for the visitors. I stood watching his accuracy, speed and beautiful work when he handed me a card with the words Amore vincit omnia which means ‘Loves conquers all’. So sweet of him

We walked down one of the many paths from the castle,  back towards the red roofs of the old town.   Carmen told us many more little stories about this lovely city as we steadily walked down the steep cobbled streets. For a while we shaded beaneath the chestnut trees that surround the castle and as we got lower we walked in the shadows of the stone buildings.

The tour ended outside the City Hall and we bid Carmen and our fellow travellers farewell as we headed towards a restaurant I’d noticed on our walk. Julija is a well presented restaurant serving a modern menu including some of the local dishes. Steve had some veal with porcini and I had duck leg with polenta and sour cherries. Sounds Italian but was Slovenian (without the sausage!)

No dessert cake for us – we were saving ourselves for gelato. Now that is Italian, but is just as popular here. The streets after lunch are awash with the drips of gelato as people wander along licking their unusual flavours. Mine – pink grapefruit with basil – was a first and so refreshing.

We walked off lunch then headed for our apartment which is above a few cafe bars – so the afternoon was spent watching a little of the Tour d France and listening to the cafe music.

Late afternoon we headed off for our passagiata along the river before stopping for an Aperol Spritz and a beer. It is quite the aperitif hour and the cream umbrella cafes (the city declared all cafes were to have large cream umbrellas only) were crowded with a variety of people – mostly young, some families, some Asian tourists and a few oldies like us! It seems to be a toss up at this time of the evening. An alcoholic drink or a gelato?

After my usual evening observations we walked to the concert hall for a performance by the St Petersburg Symphony with a pianist soloist who appeared to be about 16. He was probably 20!  Such talent.

I got to take in the concert crowd as well as enjoy the music. We walked home window shopping. There are some great shops here and the sales are on. Pity I don’t need a thing!

The dragon is the symbol of the city. It’s everywhere including on their flag

Ljubiana is proving to be a great holiday destination.

Take off tomorrow! 

The night before take off is always busy.

The clothes are out on the spare bed. The essentials are checked and double checked.

I try and stick to my rule for packing.

Pack things in lots of 3.

I have 3 bottoms ( 1 pants, 2 shorts, ) 3 dresses ( oops… I have 4!) 3 shoes, 3 tops and swimmers, goggles and all the other “stuff” for swimming.

We are flying with China Southern air. This will be a new experience. Let’s hope it’s a good one. Quite a wait in Guangzhou before heading to Paris then onto Ljubljana. A long way. So luckily we are being picked up at the airport. A prebooked GoOpti car service.

Then a nice little apartment in Ljubljana, a city we are keen to explore.

So enjoy my stories and pass this along to other friends. The more readers the better.