Lakes, churches, tits, rain, castles and weddings
20.06.2015 - 20.06.2015
Having set the alarm for 06:00 to watch – and photograph – the sunrise, I check the weather out of the window. The rain has (temporarily) stopped, but there is no sign of the sun so I crawl back to bed for another hour or two.
After breakfast, the four of us jump in our car and go for a drive of the area, starting with a circumnavigation of the lake. I am sad to report that the weather looks equally dreary from the other side.
Heading for Bohinj – as recommended by our friend Mel – we stop at the picturesque church of Bitjne for a few photos. This is exactly how I imagined the Slovenian Alps to look like.
At Lake Bohinj we park up and go for a stroll. The area is picture perfect, with an old stone bridge and a church, green forests and clear, clear water in the lake.
So clear, in fact, that you can see masses of fish shoaling right under the bridge!
I get to meet Bert and Ernie, Eddie's little 'mascots' who travel with them and get photographed wherever they go.
Church of the Holy Spirit by the Lake
Further along the lake we spot a small church and go to investigate.
The door is locked so we walk around the outside, taking some pictures. Soon a young girl appears (presumably from a house close by) with a key, and without a word, unlocks the church door so we can visit the interior.
Built in 1743, the frescoes date from 1885 and were only discovered during restoration in 1981.
I tend to agree with Mel, that Bohinj is prettier than Bled. It is more natural, being used more for recreation – hiking, cycling, fishing – than tourism.
Church of St John the Baptist
Having listened to Homer and Eddie rave about how beautiful the little church by the bridge is inside, I decide to stop and take a look for myself when we pass by there again on the return journey to Bled.
Apparently it is one of the most photographed churches in Slovenia!
The church is thought to have been built in the late 10th century, although it has been added to several times since. The external frescoes were added between 1300 and 1900 and depict St Christopher.
St Christopher is the patron saint of all traveller, and in the old days it was believed that you would die on the day you gazed upon an image of the saint.
The inside is indeed very beautiful, with the walls covered in colourful paintings – in fact I am very impressed how much colour has been retained.
We take a different route back to Bled, choosing a small country lane through cute villages and stunning scenery.
These hay drying frames are unique to Slovenia and were originally made of wood. The region is very prone to lightning storms, and in order to not lose their frame as well as the hay itself in the event of a strike, more modern concrete shelters were built.
I spot a beautiful little church, and beg David to stop. Apparently it is the same church I photographed earlier. Oh.
We get a little lost and end up going in circles for a short while, when I spot another pretty little church I want to photograph..... Yes, you guessed it, the same one. Maybe the Bohinj church isn't the most photographed church after all.
At a high point on the road, we stop to take some photos, and Homer has a Sound of Music moment, singing “The Hills are Alive” and getting all dizzy with the excitement.
The video is absolutely rubbish, but it gives you an idea of what happened.
Later Homer spots his very first tit! Having been jealous of me posting pictures on Facebook of my tits for some time, he was hoping to see a Blue Tit on this trip. Unfortunately he had to make do with a Coal Tit. But.... a tit is a tit; beggars can't be choosers.
We arrive back at the guest house in time for lunch. By this stage it is raining heavily again. Pouring rain. The restaurant is busy so we sit outside under the awning. It is now bucketing down outside and a wind is getting up. The people sitting at the table nearest the edge of the awning are getting quite wet, so get up and take their food inside. I am feeling quite cold by now, but brave it out.
Another crap video - I think I'll stick to still photos in future.
The rain is now pissing down and it's blowing a gale. We are sitting around 20 metres inside the roof, but still getting wet as the rain is now horizontal. Eddie compares the weather to the tropical storms they get in Miami - without the temperatures. We go inside while we wait for our food to arrive.
All the tables inside are taken with a large Korean tour group. We have seen dozens and dozens of these groups here in Bled – they arrive in a large bus at the lake, pile into boats for their 20 minute ride to the island and back, then straight into the restaurant for a pre-ordered meal consisting of soup, schnitzel and apple strudel. They usually eat the soup and some of the strudel, but the majority of them leave the schnitzel almost untouched.
There are several bikers standing around too, waiting for a table, and as soon as the tour group leaves, we can all fit in.
We are pleased to see they have plenty of the Blejska kremna rezina today.
But first, some real food – clockwise from top left: buckwheat dumplings stuffed with cottage cheese in a mushroom sauce; vegetable lasagne; spaghetti Bolognaise; pasta in a gorgonzola sauce.
And then for the piece de resistance:
cue drum roll
......... the famous and elusive cream slice!
And, yes, it is totally worth waiting for: light, creamy and not too sweet. Mmm
As it is still raining, we go for a little nap after lunch. When we wake I am surprised to look out of the window and find that the sun is shining. We grab Homer and Eddie and head for the castle on the hill.
All the web sites I looked at before coming here talked about the long, steep climb to the castle from the town – none of them mentioned that you could drive to the top of the hill where there is a small car park. From there a short but very steep path takes you to the castle.
Bled Castle is obviously the place to get married, as we see not one but two weddings here – one of them much more fancy and colourful than the other; with guests dressed in traditional costumes and a live group performing.
What a difference a few hours makes – look at the weather now!
The lake is a stunning shade of aquamarine, and the view from the castle terrace is breathtaking.
We hang around for ages, taking photos and chatting to people. Homer is devastated as his 70-200mm lens is no longer communicating with the camera body. That is the sort of stuff I have nightmares about.
Dinner at Murca Restaurant
For dinner tonight we go to a restaurant recommended by the Tourist Office. When David – as the designated driver - orders a bottle of Coke Zero, the waiter suggests a whisky might be more appropriate. After bringing all our drinks, he later returns with a “whisky for the driver”
David takes one sniff and exclaims “Ooh, that's strong” and proceeds to take a sip from the glass. It is of course only juice with ice cubes in a whisky glass. That's what I like, a waiter who not only speaks perfect English, but also has a great sense of humour.
Always one to order something unusual and local from the menu, I choose the wild boar with creamed potato and a sauce with plums and lavender.
The boys have a mixed grill with buckwheat and cabbage.
Back at the hotel we have a night cap in the bar before bed time, in the form of a local schnapps. That really is strong!