“That’s where Dracula lived, has to be.”
“No, that’s Romania. Lake Bled was actually really bucolic.”
“Bucolic? The disease?”
That’s an actual conversation I made up about Lake Bled. But that’s what it always sounded like to me. I’d heard it was beautiful and picturesque, though, so it’s been on my list for a while.
So how did it live up to the hype?
(part I of this trip report is here)
Well, first off, where is Lake Bled? There’s a country just south of Austria called Slovenia. It’s a beautiful country with diverse landscapes (from mountain to beaches) and it’s relatively untouristed, at least by Americans. The capital, Ljubljana, is widely known by the four people I asked as “the hardest capital city to pronounce”. I tried pronouncing it the other day and pulled like 6 muscles. Anyway, it’s been long said that the jewel of Slovenia is Lake Bled. Sitting amidst the mountains, Lake Bled (and the surrounding towns, including Bled) is a bucolic masterpiece.
(You’ll notice I’ve used the word “bucolic” more than once in this post. That’s simply because I think it doesn’t sound anything like what it means, which is funny to me. So, there’s going to be some bucolic’ing in this post)
Anyways, the mountain town of Bled (and its bucolic lake) are in the northwest part of Slovenia, not too far south from the Austrian border, so I figured it’d be an easy trip from Munich. It turned out to be relatively easy, about 5 hours or so from when I landed. I was decently well-rested, and I’ve made the drive into Austria many times, so I was at least a bit familiar with purchasing the vignettes needed for the highways and everything else.
Where it started to get hilarious was the toll tunnel into Slovenia. I had already paid for my vignette (a little sticker you put on your windshield that gives you the ability to drive on the autobahns), and there was a lady at the toll booth saying I needed to pay more. Seeing as I didn’t speak any German or Slovenian, I gestured towards the vignette and she assertively gestured at the 11 euros I needed to pay. Separately, I had my iphone linked up to my rental car’s stereo and had it turned up a little louder than I realized, when all of a sudden “Real American” by Rick Derringer (otherwise known as Hulk Hogan’s theme song) was playing…loudly. I generally don’t try to be too obvious or oblivious of an American, so I embarrassedly paid my 11 euros and got on with my business.
Once I left the main highway I made my way to Bled. Guided by the rental car’s GPS system, I drove to Bled and…right through it. It turns out the place I had booked was outside of Bled by a good 15 minutes. Still near the lake, just not in Bled proper. No biggie. I got to know the back roads of the countryside around Bled really well. The majority of them are one lane roads as well, which made for some narrow passes with oncoming cars. Eventually I stopped to check the address of my B&B to make sure I was heading toward the right place. It looked ok. Just as I was about to drive again, a baby deer darted in front of my car, scaring the crap out of me. Thinking to myself “oh Slovenia, you and your deer” I shifted into first and another baby deer WHUMPed into the side of my car. Almost literally having the crap scared out of me, I got out and took a look at
the baby deer to make sure it was ok the car. It was fine. It turned out the deer was ok too and scampered off to scare other tourists.
Eventually I found my B&B for the night, Pansion Matjon. It was very nice and very typical for a B&B. The room was clean with fast wifi, plenty of parking, and all sorts of Slovenian charm. It was just located out of the way a little bit.
To beat jetlag I tried to stay up as late as I could, but seeing as it was already really dark I couldn’t hold out for very long. I decided to go walk to the lake, but after 5 or so minutes of not being able to see anything and not really knowing where I was going I gave up. There’s one street light near the B&B and that was it. I didn’t have a flashlight so I ended up just going back to my room and going to bed.
I awoke the next morning rather early, because I wanted to follow along with my Texas A&M Aggies who were playing the Missouri Tigers back in the states. This led to some stress as the Aggies ran out of time against the Tigers, but oh well, life goes on and all that. I had a catnap after the game was over and then got up to catch the sunrise with my camera.
Oh, right. The rain.
It was raining like whoa. But did I give up? Was I really going to let rain keep my reader(s) from seeing Lake Bled? YOU BET I DIDN’T.
I actually drove completely around the lake trying to find the right vantage point for some pics. This led to an awkward situation. I was driving on a road and all of a sudden two police cars blocked my way. Now, keep in mind I don’t speak Slovene, but I’m pretty sure the officers weren’t yelling “WELCOME TO BLED, THE BEST VIEW OF THE LAKE IS OVER THAT WAY”. Through gesturing, I finally figured out what they though I was up to. You see, somehow I had managed to slip past the no car barriers for the pedestrian promenade in Bled. So I was driving through the pedestrian only zone really early in the morning with unbelievably bloodshot eyes (from the jetlag). I finally managed to convince the officers that I wasn’t drunk, just a dumb tourist trying to take pictures, and they laughed at me and let me go. Oh, Slovenia.
Finally I found my spot and started taking pictures.
It was simply beautiful. Medieval, bucolic, whatever you want to call it. I’m almost glad it was cloudy, it really added to the effect of the scenery. So I did one of my panoramas.
After the sun finished rising I went back to the B&B and had some breakfast. The town was as pretty as the lake itself but unfortunately my pictures didn’t turn out very well, aside from this one.
As you can see, it’s just lovely. It gets pretty crowded in the summers apparently, but wasn’t too bad when I was there (mid-November). It’s also really close to the capital of Slovenia so many come here for a day trip. Anyway, I really enjoyed my time in Bled and will definitely go back, maybe even next Spring. I found it worthy of its hype and recommend all of you to go!
Up next: I return to one of my favorite Austrian villages for lunch.