Bled in Awe

The islet that made Bled recognizable.

This year, there was quite a buzz regarding summer destinations in the Adriatic. Smart travelers would suggest otherwise, knowing that there will be a barrage of tourists there in summer months but since I’m a dumb traveler and the costs were too attractive, I ditched a well thought out plan around Greece and went for the Adriatic instead. My second stop was Slovenia, a tiny almost landlocked country, thanks to the tiny coast along Koper and Piran. I thought however that most likely, tanning-obsessed Europeans would flock this coast so I opted for an inland adventure instead. Lake Bled sprung to mind, the headliner of anything Slovenian.

Came too early with the mist effect as consolation (and well, in hindsight, beating the crowds)

Planning it carefully, one can definitely squeeze a day tour of Lake Bled from Ljubljana including another nearby attraction, the Vintgar Gorge, with plenty of time to spare. The famous lake is about an hour and a half from the capital and is served by buses that go almost every hour. The gorge is then just 20 min (1 euro) from the lake but the bus times are kind of tricky. I first took the bus from Ljubljana central station to Bled. It dropped me off almost lakeside it’s easy to find your way; however, I immediately saw a bus to the gorge right beside and it was about to leave so I decided to just take it first. Good thing I succumbed to my instincts because, just 30 minutes later, the crowd in the gorge immediately magnified. It was like people just popped out from the forest. It was insane. Luckily, I came early and had a bit of time before I had to squeeze my way through the narrow pathways and the intense pedestrian traffic.

Somebody started a trend and now, a part of the gorge has become a city of pebble towers.

The gorge was amazing. A couple of miles of pathway follow a tranquil river which carved a canyon through a forest. Every 200 meters or so, there was a change of scenery. Rocky walls, clear emerald waters teeming with fish – it was quite a lovely hike. I had to pay 4 euros (yay for student discounts!) but it was worth it. The way back to Bled was kind of tricky. The bus I rode to go to the gorge stopped right at the entrance of the parking area so I expect the bus to Bled to stop there as well but no, it didn’t arrive at the time indicated on the time table. There were six other people lingering inside the parking area having the same problem. It’s probably walkable but through a highway, it’s a terrible idea. A cab driver saw us and offered to take us all to Bled for 1 euro each. Phew, what a lucky day for us! This meant that I would have an entire afternoon to enjoy Bled!

A tiny town in the Julian Alps visible from a hike in Bled.

I was able to return to Bled with probably 4 or 5 hours to spare and it was more than enough. I wanted to walk the whole circumference but I was already exhausted from the morning hike at the gorge more so, after a plateful, heavy lunch. I hiked to the castle on the cliff but there was nothing much so I just went down and tried to enjoy the lakeside promenade as much as I can. Around the lake are tree-lined shaded areas good for picnics and I also saw a lot of people taking a dip. It wasn’t hard to find a private spot. Actually I really haven’t thought of it since I had the impression that the water would be cold but no. It was a perfect 25°C or so. Thus, what else is there to do but dive in and YOLO! The water was so clean and translucent, almost therapeutic (or maybe I was just so into the moment). I just had to relax under the shade trying to take advantage of the perfect weather with the occasional euro gelato from one of the quaint shops dotting the lakeside.

At around 5 PM, I went back to my hostel in Ljubljana well-rested, with the views of the picturesque lake and gorge still in my mind. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that one day I would get to see these places in person. It also was a chance for me to learn about Slovenia more than what we hear in the news. In fact, we don’t hear much of it at all except probably for the fact that Melania Trump was born there but yes, it should be added to everyone’s list just for the budget-friendly natural wonders it offers. Soon, I’ll post more about my travel in Slovenia because there is more to it like the hip city of Ljubljana, the magnificent caves, etc. There’s definitely plenty of fun things to do without the need to splurge. But for now, bask at the wonder of the lake and the gorge with these humble photos that even, don’t give justice to its beauty.

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