Leaving for Slovenia when we did was a serious blessing since the worst dust storm in Israel’s history hit Tel Aviv the day before we left. The dust made my bad seasonal allergies worse, and I seriously couldn’t stand to go outside. Combine that with a heat index of 108F + 85% humidity and it was kind of like being in hell. So, yes, leaving Tel Aviv when we did was great. It was a little nerve-wracking to take off in a plane in the middle of a dust storm, since you couldn’t see more than 100 feet around you, but it was kind of a once in a lifetime experience (I hope).
Three and a half hours after that terrifying takeoff I looked out the plane window to see dense green forests, gorgeous mountains, and absolutely no dust! We landed in Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, immediately picked up our rental car ,and headed to Lake Bled. Fiancé is an amazingly organized trip planner, complete with lists of restaurants and sights recommended by friends and a finely tuned schedule. I’m definitely less organized when traveling (I did book the hotels! And downloaded an app! I do stuff!), so trips with him are the best.
We checked into Hotel Jadran in Bled and immediately headed out to walk around the lake. Lake Bled is a gorgeous lake surrounded by mountains complete with an overlooking castle and picturesque island church. It’s about 6km to walk around, so it’s easy to do at a leisurely pace. I swear every ten steps you get another picture worthy view, so picture taking basically doubled our time walking.
About a quarter of the way around the lake we decided to rent a row boat to row out to the island and see the Church of the Assumption. Being in Bled already makes you feel like your in a fairytale book, and the row boat ride across the lake just adds to that. It’s a no wake lake, meaning there’s no motor boats, so the paddling is pretty easy. We only had about two moments where I was confident we were about to flip over and lose both of our phones, passports, and wallets in the lake (aka disaster). Once you get to the island, you chain up your boat to the dock next to dozens of others and head up the very steep steps to the church and bell tower.
Apparently there was once a temple to a Slavic goddess where the church now stands, but the church was built over it after a battle between the pagans and the Christians. Legend has it that if you ring the bell in the church’s bell tower, your wish will come true. Entrance to the church and bell tower require a ticket that can be purchased once you’re on the island. Honestly, we’ve toured a lot of churches, so we decided to save the money and enjoy it from the outside. I guess we’ll never know what we missed inside, but just spending time on the island was idyllic enough to make the boat trip worth it.
We wandered around the island before decided to grab an ice cream cone and espresso from the stand next to the church. We decided to get a scoop of creme cake flavor, since Slovenia, and particularly Bled, is famous for its creme cakes (more on that in a later post). We sat on the grass to eat and watched a bride and groom take wedding photos in front of the church. It was super relaxing after our morning traveling, and I highly recommend rowing out to the island when staying in Bled, if only to relax.
After rowing back to shore, we finished our walk around the lake and ended up back in the main hotel area. This day was the most time we spent in Bled, and it was probably the most relaxing day of our trip thus far. I wouldn’t plan to spend more than one day in the town itself, but there’s plenty of hiking and other activities in the surrounding area, making it a great place to stay. It’s close to another beautiful lake, Bohinj, as well as Mount Vogel, both of which are popular destinations. I’ll cover them both in my next post on hiking in Slovenia.
If you’re planning a trip to this amazing country, definitely consider a stay in Bled. While the prices reflect the fact that it’s a tourist area compared to the rest of Slovenia, the convenience of nearby amenities and the overall beauty make it well worth it. I highly recommend Horel Jadran. Although the TV and bedspread were outdated, we had a pretty balcony, a pretty decent free breakfast, and gorgeous views of the lake. The service was also excellent, and the hotel itself is charming and elegant.