Slovenia - Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj

Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, August 3, 2007

The train journey from Munich to Slovenia vindicated our decision to travel the world only by land. Gazing out of the window, 5 hours flew by as the train snaked alongside the Julian Alps before climbing high into the mountains and dropping us at the sleepy town of Jesenice. A short bus journey took us to the fairytale land of lake Bled. Surrounded by green hills and snow capped mountains the view from the beach at our campsite was reminiscent of some sort of Disney film. At the centre of the lake, Slovenia's only island provided the final touch, as if Mr Disney had superimposed it there himself.

Rather than pay the €10 (i found the € key!) to visit the island by paddle boat, I decided to swim there instead. Exhausted, red-eyed, barefoot, and dripping wet, I climbed the 30 steps to the church at the islands centre. Immense satisfaction immediately turned to horror as I was greeted by a newly wed bride and groom leaving the church and the stares of 40 smartly dressed wedding guests anxious I didn't ruin the wedding photos. Slightly embarrassed I turned around, went back down the steps and jumped back in the lake. Teach me for being a tight arse.

The downside to Lake Bled's attractiveness is that it is extremely tourist orientated. It didn't bother us to much at first but the huge number of screaming kids became quite irritating. Tents are not the most sound proof of living environments so we didn't sleep to well (and we pitched our tent on a massive slope which didn't help matters). Whats worse though is that children under 6 stay for free. For the pleasure of pissing everyone off they don't pay a cent. Paying guests at the campsite were much more hospitable. After eating an unfulfilling and slightly pathetic omelet on our stove, the Hungarian couple beside us offered their leftovers. We gratefully accepted a bowl of rice, tub of salad and 5 giant sausages wrapped in bacon. Absolute legends.

On our last day we toured the 1000 year old castle before going on a 5 mile hike through tiny Slovenian villages to the Vintgar gorge, a mile long stretch of cascading water that cuts through the limestone rock. Pictures do it more justice than words. Highlight of the day was meeting a Slovenian farmer on the walk back. The conversation went:
Farmer; "Slovenij?"
Us: "Nay Slovenij, English?"
Farmer: "Nay English"
We all laughed, shook hands and smiled at our inability to understand each other. We felt more like proper travelers and he probably though what a bunch of English woppers.

An hours bus journey further into the mountains took us to Lake Bohinj which was even more spectacular and without the tourist crowds. Our campsite was 5km from the nearest shop in a village that looked big on the map but was in fact 7 houses, a bus stop, and an Italian restaurant (this became our local because it sold pints of Zlatorog for €1.60 and 14 pizzas for €5). We spent a couple of days just sunbathing, enjoying the tranquility, making a fire on the beach at night and watching the stars. The Triglav mountains rose sharply out of the lake, it was the most spectacular scenery we've ever seen (again, the pictures do it more justice).

The Lake is a huge attraction for serious outdoor sports enthusiasts. We hired mountain bikes for a day and decided to go on what looked like the easiest of the 10 marked out trails around the lake. For 15km on flat land through small villages we were feeling confident. Then we turned onto a 7km trail that would take us up to 1200m above sea level. We knew we were on th wrong trail when the only people that passed us were bikers in full Lycra outfits. After 2 hours solid going uphill we had to stop at a small house for water and discovered we had only just got past halfway. Then a woman told us when we get to the top it would be okay because you could sleep there and carry on the trail tomorrow. At that point we turned around and it took less than ten minutes to come back down. Kerry hated it, but now I understand why people are into mountain biking because going steeply downhill for 4km was pretty exhilarating.

Hopefully all the photos have loaded to go with this blog. We've just arrived in the capital Ljubljana and our staying in the Slovenian equivalent of Kirkstall brewery. Inabit!
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