I have been a very lucky bug of late, as you may have seen from my constant Slovenia spamming on Instagram and my last travel post, all about Ljubljana - the modest but absolutely gorgeous capital of Slovenia. Three days passed there in a bliss that consisted of charging about and chilling out in beautifully equal portions, after which we hopped on a bus and headed to Bled in North-Western Slovenia. As I mentioned in my last post, everything in Ljubljana is 15 minutes away from everything else, so we walked to the bus station on our last morning and caught the hourly coach for a mere 5 euros.
The trip to Bled was beautiful and I had my head pressed against the glass for the duration. I didn't even sleep (unheard of for me in any moving vehicle), much to the pleasure of my fellow travelers. I seem to lose the ability to keep my mouth closed, so cue a gargoyle-esqe companion for your journey. Unfortunately we got off the coach too early and as such took a strange, diverging route round the back of Bled, down a hill between very fancy houses until we found our hostel. We made a pact to be sat at the lake by at least midday, so after checking in to our hostel we near on legged it to water's edge.
Unlike the hostel debacle of Ljubljana (think a room full of noisy Dutch girls and a bed next to the toilet), this hostel ticked all the boxes! A room of our own, a bar downstairs, a stone's throw away from the lake - bliss! At 13 euros a night for private room, I wasn't complaining at all.
Each morning we were woken up by the chickens on the farm across the way softly cooing and clucking to each other. Each evening we walked past sheep so fluffy they were almost spherical, periodically grazing from one side of grass to the other.
There's some kind of invisible draw that entices people onto islands, whether in the middle of oceans or lakes. A kindly tip from our hostel owner sent us down to the shore with a voucher in hand to get a cheap rowing boat out the beautiful church, seeming to sprout out of the island like the pine trees around it. It was cheap, we realised, because we had to row it ourselves. Cue a pinball-like journey to the island as we bounced off every bank! Here I had the best ice cream yet, with nuts and toffee and caramel - a safe choice after spotting a flavour called 'Grandma Cream' and deciding I'd be happy dying never knowing what it tastes like...
The next day I woke up in a cold sweat having burnt myself so badly the day before that I felt like an angry reptile, ready to shed my skin. This pale girl will never learn. Sitting in a bath of ice would have been a welcome activity, but the Vintgar Gorge was calling us and boy oh boy was I in the mood for a hike. Trekking over to the gorge was wonderful and hard and made my feet hurt but was absolutely worth it. Where most countries would have shuttle buses running back and forth, here we relied on our (less than able) feet and wandered through some beautiful, pastoral and untouched villages on the way that I would't have traded any air-conditioned coach for.
We danced from one side of the road to the other to chase the shade and arrived in the cool, crisp greenery of the gorge much to our relief. Perilously placed walkways followed the gorge down, past waterfalls, craggy rocks and plunge pools. We dipped our toes in the freezing mountain water and marked our visit by balancing rocks next to the quick running stream, fat brown trout swimming lazily upstream. At this point, slow, heavy drops of rain began falling and we quickly found ourselves in the midst of a storm. We escaped the worst of it with filter coffee and a very long game of cards in a make shift cafe that I half suspect also served as someone's regular living room.
Timber houses with pretty balconies full of flowers lined our path back down the hill. Steep, swerving roads and rogue chickens darted out of the way with the noisy engines of motorbikes heaving themselves upwards. Everyone seemed to have a vegetable patch bursting full of colour, boasting gloriously of self-sufficiency in a way I think you'd be hard pressed to find here.
Before we left this beautiful place for good I just about had time to pick up a fridge magnet to join my growing collection of Europe's tackiest and most unloved souvenirs - I just can't help it! Europe seems largely bored of English tourists, but to Slovenians we're still a novelty. One girl asked me to 'talk at her' as she'd never heard a 'proper' accent before. Who'd have known?!
Catch up with my other travel posts here.
Do you think you'd like to visit Slovenia?