We were travelling onto Slovenia directly from Naples, Italy (which you can read here.) When we first arranged our trip we didn’t realise that there were no direct flights or trains from Italy into Slovenia, which made things a bit more complicated. After carrying out extensive research online, we found that the least expensive way was to fly from Naples to Trieste in Northern Italy, then a bus journey from Trieste over the border into Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana. Then another bus journey to our hotel in Bled. This meant a whole day of travelling, but at least we got to see quite a bit of both countries during the bus trips. It was also a much better idea than spending €280 (£200) each on flights via Munich or Istanbul, which would probably have taken just as long anyway.
Our flights were €60 (£45) each from Naples to Trieste, with Alitalia. Then a bus journey from the airport into Trieste town centre which was €4 (£3). The bus to Ljubljana was around €13 (£10) then the bus to Bled was €7 (£5). Overall we spent €84 (£60) each, which wasn’t too bad.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Slovenia, as it’s a country not many people seem to visit. We felt the drop in temperature immediately when we got off the bus in Ljubljana compared to Italy where we’d travelled from earlier that day.
By the time we arrived in Bled and found our hotel (Hotel Jadran) it was already quite late in the evening, so we just went for a few drinks then had an early night as I was eager to get up early in the morning and see what Slovenia had to offer.
Walk around the lake – 3 ¾ miles (6km)
The first thing we did in the morning was take a walk around Lake Bled, which was 3.76 miles in total. The walk itself took about an hour, but we stopped for a drink at the pub on the other side of the lake. The terrain is flat, and there are proper pathways all around the Lake, so the walk would be suitable for almost everyone.
The water was crystal clear, even though the weather was quite dull and overcast. Some of the views were magnificent, looking towards the island in the middle of the lake or the castle on the hill which was towering above. There were also hundreds of ducks, swans and other birds. I kept stopping to take pictures of sleeping ducks on the side of the lake as they were all tucked in, with their heads under their wings and looked so cute!
We saw lots of unusual little houses and log cabins dotted around the lake, and most were privately owned. They reminded me of something from Heidi, apart from they weren’t up in the mountains. Imagine being able to come to the lake every weekend, and have all your friends and family round for a barbecue in the summer. Then go swimming in the lake when it gets too hot – I couldn’t imagine anything better! What a perfect setting for a little holiday home.
Picnic from the supermarket
If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts you’ll know that one of my favourite things to do when visiting a new place is to head straight to the local supermarket and browse all the different types of food.
There is a shopping area in the village of Bled containing various newsagents, gift shops, souvenirs and food shops. We decided to have a picnic, so went into the small supermarket where we found various breads, cheeses, meat and pickles. We also bought some orange beer, which we thought was a bit unusual. It turned out to be just beer mixed with Fanta, and was a luminous orange colour! So that was a bit of a disappointment. The rest of the picnic was great though.
There are numerous bars/pubs in Bled – quite a few considering the size of the village, which is essentially just one main street. We found all of the staff to be very friendly, and the drinks were reasonably priced (€3/£2 for a small beer). We only had time to visit a few, so will have to come back another time and try the rest!
Kult – A rock music themed bar with murals of Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury etc on the walls. Brilliant music, not too heavy for most tastes, basically just classic rock music. Plus they also had a Fußball table.
Pub Bled – Upstairs from the Oštarija Peglez’n restaurant. Had a wooden ski-chalet feel and an excellent range of cocktails.
Devil Bar – Probably our favourite of all the pubs in Bled. Right on the front of the lake, with an outdoor seating area. It had a good range of beers, plus ‘devil’ themed decor, some of which was rather frightening!
The castle sits high on top of a cliff overlooking the lake. It’s a strenuous 20-minute walk up to the castle from the town, with quite steep climbs and endless staircases, so it was quite heavy-going. We were drenched in sweat by the time we reached the top – definitely not one for the faint-hearted!
There’s a small entry fee, then you’re free just to wander around on your own. There’s a cafe/restaurant which is overpriced, but we had to buy a water after the steep climb! It was all worth it though for the views from the courtyard of the castle which overlook the lake. One of the most spectacular scenes ever – lake Bled on one side and the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park on the other side. Snow capped mountains with little villages dotted around the valley. Simply breathtaking!
The castle also contains a museum which hosts some interesting artefacts. My favourites included a sixteenth-century bathtub and an ancient skeleton, still wearing jewellery. There is a chapel with murals and frescoes on the walls and ceiling.
Golf Hotel Spa
When we checked into our hotel (Jadran) we were surprised to find out that we had access to the spa at the Golf Hotel included in the price of our stay. We decided to check it out one afternoon that we had free.
Our passes only included the pool and jacuzzi, and so we paid €12 each for the sauna. Massages and other spa treatments were also available, but we didn’t bother with these. After handing over the money we were shocked when the receptionist told us that there were no bathing suits to be worn in the sauna. She handed us two sheets, and I just opened my mouth aghast. I’d never been to a nude sauna before, so I was a bit nervous!
We decided to go for a swim first and were completely blown away by the quality of the facilities – much better than any 5* spa I’ve been to in the UK. There were swimming pools on different levels, a water slide, kids area, sun loungers, and the best part of all was a jacuzzi with a view over the lake. I felt like some sort of celebrity on MTV Cribs. Andy had never been to a spa before, so he was well impressed.
We eventually plucked up the courage to try the sauna, so we went back to the changing rooms to undress and wrap up in our sheets. Nude bathing and saunas is quite a common thing across Europe – it seems it’s just the UK and US who are prudish about this sort of thing. Changing areas are usually mixed as well, rather than separate male and female.
We descended the stairs to find lots of different steam rooms and Turkish saunas. The first sauna room was empty, which was a relief. The ceiling was covered in coloured LED lights, and there was relaxing music playing, but I still felt a bit strange removing my sheet.
We decided to try another sauna room, so we went in and sat down. But then we realised it was only the two of us and a naked guy! We rushed out again and went back to the first room where we had just come from. We steamed ourselves for about 10-15 minutes, then by the time we came out more people had arrived. Everyone was just casually sitting naked around a small pool area.
By this time I had eventually plucked up the courage to remove my sheet, so I just quickly had a cold shower, then wrapped myself up in the sheet again. I couldn’t imagine just lounging around naked, chatting to other naked people. Plus Andy and I were the youngest there by a good 20-30 years. It seems the older you get, the less you care about taking your clothes off!
Bled cream cake
While we were in Bled I had my 29th birthday, so what better way to celebrate than with the traditional Bled cream cake, known as kremna rezina. There were adverts for these being sold all over the town, but the original ones came from the Park Hotel, which is where we went. The recipe had remained unchanged since the 1940s.
The cake is basically a layer of custard and a layer of cream sandwiched between puff pastry and sprinkled with icing sugar. It was absolutely delicious, although very messy. I was quite surprised at the size of the cake too – we could have probably shared one between us, but it was my birthday, after all, so we decided to have one each.
Apparently there have been over ten million of these cakes sold, which shows just how good they are!
Boat trip to the island
After we’d finished eating our cream cakes we decided it would be romantic to hire a boat and go out on the lake with a bottle of wine.
Andy went in and paid for the rental while I waited outside. I had a bit of a giggle at a sign which said that the rowing boats were not for the mentally retarded or those under the influence of psychotropic substances. I hoped that this didn’t apply to people drinking wine!
We had planned to take turns rowing the boat. However, it was a windy day and we kept drifting back to where we’d come from. We were aiming for the island in the middle of the lake, and it was quite a struggle for Andy to get us there. I just relaxed and drank the wine, while he did all the hard work! (Remember, it was my birthday!) I did offer to help, but he said I wouldn’t be able to move the boat.
We arrived on the island and took a walk around the old gothic church. It looked beautiful from the outside, but you had to pay to go in so we didn’t bother. We just took a few snaps and enjoyed the views from the island.
To round off my birthday, we went to a wine-tasting at the local wine store just round the corner from our hotel. There was a wide range of complimentary foods on offer, including bread, cheese and olives, and we got to taste a good range of wines, all with generous portion sizes!
The wines themselves were some of the best I’ve ever tasted – All had come from a family-run vineyard, and it was one of the sons who was presenting the wines to us. He spoke about the different techniques they use, including storing the wines in clay pots, underneath the soil to keep it cool. All of the wines were delicious, but there was one in particular that I really liked. It was retailing for €22 a bottle, but we wouldn’t have been able to take it home in our hand luggage which was unfortunate.
I later looked the wine up online to see if I could buy any, and could only find one site shipping it to the UK for €70 – well out of my price range. Probably one of the most expensive bottles of wine I’ve ever tasted though!
Day in Ljubljana
We spent the last day of our trip in Ljubljana, just wandering around the capital and taking in all the scenery and architecture. We only had a few hours before having to catch the bus to the airport so we just stuck to the central area around Prešeren Square, which is on the edge of the Medieval town and contains the Franciscan Cathedral.
We bought some overpriced ice-cream and just sat on the Cathedral steps, people watching. It was a relaxing end to our holiday, and a great way to round off what was an amazing trip. Since I’ve come home I’ve been telling everyone what a fantastic country Slovenia is, and I can’t wait to book my next trip.
I hope you enjoyed my Slovenian adventure – thanks for reading!
Love great scenery? Try the West Highland Way