Bled (Julian Alps), Slovenia October 2020 (Tour 3)

Bled was closed!

We arrived mid afternoon and parked the Van on an empty pay car park near where the 209 meets Kidriceva cesta (on the south east side of the lake) and then walked clockwise round the lake towards the town’s centre, seeing very few people on the way.

In the centre we saw even fewer people. With the exception of a small Mercado not far from where we had parked the Van, the casino, a health food store and one small restaurant doing take away food only, everything was closed. We couldn’t get a drink anywhere, even in the local hotels. We walked from one hotel to another but most appeared to be boarded up; the only one showing any light had a sign up advising that only hotel residents would be served food and drink. It was unbelievable.

An elderly woman stopped to ask us about the dogs and I asked her why everything was shut. That started her off. In between slagging off the Croat tourists who had brought COVID to Bled and the Prime Minister, Janez Jansa, for letting them enter the country, she explained that COVID was rife and everywhere was on lockdown. She didn’t stop at that but, to cut a long rant short, she politely suggested we find somewhere else in Slovenia that wasn’t locked down and then apologised for leaving us saying that she had to get home. For what it is worth she wasn’t wearing a face mask.

Having walked the entire 6 km circuit of the lake before meeting the lady, we decided to stock up on stores, pack up the Van and head off to Austria. Shame but Vanya has now been to Slovenia, seen Bled, walked all around the lake and the town (she covered 10 kms today) and taken countless stunning photographs of one of the prettiest places in Europe…Take a look for yourself…

There is more about Bled in the blog I made when I last visited the town in 2017 although in some respects the place has changed quite markedly. Certainly, the town has grown significantly and the lakeside has been further developed to cater for tourists. Indeed, work seems to be continuing in that regard.

Bled, Hill Walking etc – Nov 2017

I had it in mind to do a bit of hill walking today but I also wanted to take a closer look at Bled Castle and St Martin’s Church. Succeeded on all fronts.

The hill walking wasn’t as good as expected. The tree line here is higher than in Scotland and the ascent made really wasn’t worth the effort in terms of the resulting views (even on the hilltops the trees obscured almost everything). Moreover, on more than one occasion I deviated from the track, such as it was, and ended up forging routes through areas that were best avoided. This I think is a better area for cycling or hiking than hill walking. Failing that, I need to go a great deal higher.

The route I chose (not sure if you will be able to read the map above) took me from Bled through Ribno and across the river at the Ribenski Bridge then up the hill to Lovska koca na Talezu. I wish it was as easy as it sounds. From the closed log cabin type cafe at 725m I dropped behind Oglar and up to Tolsti vrh, 883m, before making my way down round Hom to the Selski Bridge and then on to Lake Bled via Selo and Strazo Mlino (also taking in the small tops of Kozarca, 558m and Obroc, 519m). Views were non existent (with the photos not worth including in this blog) but there was plenty of exercise.  Moreover I had the route very much to myself, stopping only to talk to a few cows and a goat as one does when not meeting anybody after 5+ hours walking.

Ribno was a small but pretty and well kept hamlet…

…and the view upstream from the Ribenski Bridge wasn’t bad

The views started to open up once across the river

On the way back, after wandering up and down steep thickly wooded hills for much longer than should have been the case, I was pleased to find the Selski Bridge…

… and then, after checking out the hamlets of Selo and Straza Mlino, I found Lake Bled…

… and my first sight of the day of Bled Castle, my next port of call…

… and St Martin’s Church, also to be visited before my first beer of the day.

10 euros to enter Bled Castle, it was worth it for the views alone

They were expecting me

Views out of the windows were impressive…

… especially this one.

… and from the battlements but, it’s getting late

and St Martin’s Church – the Catholics know how to best present a church

Not sure where I am heading tomorrow but look what I found in the Lovec…

Bled Day 1 – Nov 2017

Bled is situated in the Julian Alps in northwest Slovenia, not far from Austria and Italy. It is an out and out tourist destination (with an abundance of hotels, pensions and camp sites) in a very picturesque location, surrounded by mountains and forests. The lake of the same name is oval shaped, about 2 clicks long, and just under 30m deep (that’s for the divers amongst you; not that I would want to dive it).  It has a small island on which stands a church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary but the lake is perhaps best known for holding the World Rowing Championships on no less than 4 occasions.

You could circuit the Lake on foot in just over an hour if it weren’t for the fact you simply have to stop, again and again, to take photographs – it is stunning. It took me more than 2 hours with most of my photo shots directed towards the island because it seems to get better and better from every angle but there are many other photo opportunities.  I walked in a clockwise direction from the centre of the town on an excellent path that hugged the shoreline the whole way.

Looking back towards the town with the parish church of St Martin on the left 

One of my first shots of the Island and its church

Getting closer

The hardest part will be deciding which photos to use in the blog

I didn’t realise rowing is so popular in Slovenia

Looking back over the lake as it starts to get dark and I reach my hotel, the image is almost surreal

Dinner was at the Restavracija Grill in the Lovec Hotel (the sister hotel to the one I am staying in) and the food was good but the alcohol (especially the beer) was great…

Tomorrow: some hill walking and I’ll pop into both Bled Castle and St Martin’s Church. Oh… and the Lovec Hotel for a beer or two.

Bled, Slovenia (Nov 2017)

The journey to Bled from Graz wouldn’t have taken more than an hour or two except I stopped twice.

The first time was to fill my LPG tanks (which amongst other things power the heating system in the Van; I think I may be needing them soon – it was just 2 degrees as I came over the mountains from Austria) and the second was to check out the little village of “Egg am Faaker See”. I was going to stop at the Austrian town of Villach, on the Draava River, but Egg am Faaker See, just 5 clicks further on, sounded more interesting and of course it is much smaller.

The stop to fill up with LPG was not enjoyable. There I was trying to fix/force a German adaptor on to my UK style LPG tap when a young lady, after watching me struggle for ten minutes or so, pointed out that Austrian LPG stations use the same adaptor as the French and the Italians- well of course they do. Silly me. Ten minutes is not a lot of time in the great scheme of things but the first few seconds of trying to fill the tank with the wrong adaptor in place caught me without gloves and receiving what felt like serious burns from the cold propane gas. I’ll wear gloves in future even if I don’t always apply the correct adaptor. Why on earth Europe should operate four different LPG fittings I do not know.

The stop at Egg am Faaker See was far more enjoyable not least because the air temperature had risen to 10 degrees and it was getting warmer still. I didn’t do anything but take in the views and chill out for an hour or so.

The Faaker See

I was chilled out and the rest of the journey to Bled (just inside the Slovenian border) went so smoothly I decided to continue with the mood and check into the four star Kompas Hotel for a day or two (hotels here are half price this time of the year) and take advantage of their swimming pool, sauna and massage facilities. Now that is chilled!

First however a gentle walk around Lake Bled:-

There’s the map…

…there’s the lake…

…and there’s the castle to help get my bearings.