It only took 45 minutes to get from Ljubljana Airport to Lake Bled and then only 15 extra minutes walking around the hostel before we realised it was the right one, Ace of Spades. A few people in the village went looking for the manager and once found he was very friendly. He allowed us to take a picture of his only map before taking us up to the dorm where we dumped our bags and went out to walk around Lake Bled.
Now, when trying to work out what to pack for a years worth of travel, Sarah and I agreed that, while we already look like tourists, we didn’t want to try and draw attention to ourselves. Hence, why we took weeks to decide what to buy, especially our shoes and waterproofs. It was approximately 5 minutes into our yearlong adventure before the heavens opened and we had to put on our wet weather kit and blend into the surroundings. Nailed it!
It wasn’t long before the rain cleared and the skies turned blue and it started to heat up again. The lake was stunning with turquoise blue water shimmering underneath the Castle perched on a cliff 100m above the lake. It was no surprise that what should have taken 1 hour to walk the 6km around the entire lake took more like 2 hours, it was incredible. There were fisherman sat along the entire bank and we thought it would only be small fish they were looking for, but when we walked around the corner, we saw someone land what we think was a carp that was about 70cm long and took two guys to lift it in. We found out later that there is an even bigger fish in the lake called Max – a 2 metre catfish… You never know?
As we made it to the end of the circuit we saw the path up Castle Hill. Very much like the famous Castle Hill in Townsville, except for it being in Slovenia, and also having an actual Castle on top. We climbed the steps thinking about all those times (2) we trekked ‘The Goat Track’ back home and when we made it to the top we found a Medieval Festival in full swing. Slightly confused, we wandered through and found the secret path that that led around the castle walls to a magnificent view of the lake saving us about €10 in the process.
Slightly peckish, we walked down to a small bar KRCMA, where we indulged in our first Slovenian Beer and at €1.35 for 2, some affordable Cheese and Ham Toasties. That evening we shared a delicious pizza – a staple for all Slovenians, it seems – before wandering down to the lake and to take a few photos amongst the million Mosquitos.
The following morning we woke, wandered down to grab a couple more chess and ham Toasties before the hostel took us for a trip out to Vintgar Gorge. As the driver dropped us off he gave us special directions that we didn’t listen to on how to get down to get a better glimpse of the Waterfall. The walk through the gorge was quite amazing. We walked along timber platforms as the azure waters flowed fast and steady below us. The water was so clear and in some parts we could see plenty of trout swimming upstream. It was much cooler in the gorge, almost 10 degrees different so it was quite good to get to the waterfall and stand in the sunshine above it and look out across the valley up to the snow capped Alps that separate Austria & Slovenia. Three of us decided to wander down to hill to take a look at the waterfall. Following the drivers instruction we walked across the waterfall and started heading up the other side. We were a bit confused, as we seemed to be getting higher and further away from the falls. We saw a man coming up the side of the hill so inquired as to the whereabouts of said falls. He said he just came from there so headed down the path and to be careful, as it is a bit slippery. We wandered down, being followed by a young family and their 2 year old. The further we got, the more trees were down and the muddier it got. Halfway through the family turned back but we ventured on. It was quite a lot of fun as we slipped, slid and clung to the trees. Jokes were made and far flung ideas such as “I bet there is a funicular here somewhere” but we made it down, slightly dirtier but happier all the same. As we took the last of our pictures, we decided to walk a different way back, out onto the road, over a bridge and up the stairs next to a funicular! Quicker, but much more boring.
On the way back we stopped by the lake and we all trekked up to the top of Ojstrica Hill. It was 15 minutes straight incline to the top, which proved my pre-travel fitness regime of bacon sandwiches had not been successful but the view was worth it. We spent a few minutes up there before heading on back to the hostel for lunch. Lunch today was a tuna and cheese roll that we were going to take with us on the way back down to the Lake. I thought that was simple enough so told Sarah I had this and she could definitely head upstairs to change into something more suitable for the hotter weather. Turns out tuna tins from Slovenia are not made from the same quality tin of the countries I am used to so when I squeezed the top to drain the excess oil, my bacon diet surprised me and my bare hands crushed the tin so drastically that the oil sprayed out coating t-shirt number 1 of 4 in stinky fishy oil. So Sarah had to finish the sandwiches so I could change into something more appropriate for interacting with fellow human beings. A terrible hand wash later, I hung out the shirt and we wandered back down the lake to hire a rowboat so I could romantically row Mrs Larko to the Island. Three strokes in and Sarah put on her waterproof. I finally got my rhythm and Sarah wanted to swap saying something along the lines of she should row and I am better at paddling or something like that – I wasn’t listening. Anyways, Mrs L romantically rowed Mr L back to shore where we wandered back stopping for a quick beer over looking the whole of the lake.
Tonight would be the first night where we would cook our first dinner and try out a great present I received – the Swiss-Made, Humidity-Free, Sealable and Travelable (new word) Salt & Pepper Sensation. Our first cooked meal was a delicious fresh tomato pasta dish that went down remarkably well with our 1L bottle of Red (€2.50). I showed everyone my terrible repertoire at cards before we got roped into going out for a few drinks on the “town”. The next day and it was our final morning in Bled so we grabbed a quick breakfast of umm… Cheese and Ham Toasties, packed our bags before jumping on the Bus to Ljubljana.