Visiting Lake Bled in Slovenia with Inghams
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Lakes, Wine and Wild FlowersI have been invited by Inghams to explore Slovenia in central Europe.
We are to experience the Lakes, sample
wines from this famous wine growing area and visit the International Wild Flower
Festival. I will also get a chance to visit The European Green Capital for 2016
– Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. Lucky me.
We fly direct from Gatwick to Ljubljana
with Adria Airways which was a joy in itself. This comfortable airline reminded
me how luxurious travel used to feel. Only
a short flying time of 2hrs 5 mins and we are met by our Inghams guide, Marko,
who is proudly going to show us a little of his country.
Most people below the age of 40 in Slovenia,
speak English. Slovenia peacefully broke away from the former Yugoslavia in
1991, joined the EU and now uses the Euro as its currency.
It is only a ½ hour transfer to Lake Bled and
we are immediately transported into alpine villages and meadows filled with
wild flowers. Sitting snugly at the base of the Julian Alps, Lake Bled can only
be described as chocolate box beautiful. The surrounding mountains and spruce
trees are mirrored in the lake and seemingly floating in the centre, is the
only island in Slovenia. Bled island.
The 4*Hotel Golf is to be our base for two
nights. It is well positioned above the lake with easy access down to the cafes
and restaurants hugging the shore below. Rooms are spacious and clean with balconies. Tea & coffee making
facilities and free water are not on offer in the rooms, but there are mini
bars. If those Silver Traveller hips grind a little, be aware that the showers
are over baths and this might require a little agility.
Summer time in the Julian Alps attracts,
walkers, cyclists, joggers and nature lovers. Marko, who is fluent in 5
languages and a mine of information with good humour, is taking us to visit Tito’s Villa. Now a
government owned hotel and a real period piece. Tito’s cinema room sports
chandeliers and murals depicting the Socialist ideology which no doubt
impressed visiting VIPs.
A ‘must do’ trip is to be taken by boat to Bled
Island. It was Empress Maria Therese of Habsburg back in the 18thC who granted
20 local lake side families the licence to row pilgrims back and forth to the Island.
Boatmen, who owned poor agricultural land, could supplement their incomes and
these families cunningly have a monopoly on roadside farmhouse accommodation on
the pilgrim route to this day.
Pilgrims came seeking blessings first from
pagan Gods and later from the Mother of God church on the same site. Our
boatman rows us over on his Pletna boat and we now have to climb 100 steps to
view the Baroque decoration and ring the bell. Marriages are very popular here in
this idyllic setting and tradition says that the groom should carry his bride
up the 100 steps. Marko tells us that sometimes, determined brides, carry the
groom! If you pull the bell and it rings
3 times your wishes will be granted, I wished for more breath.
Snow melts and mountains, mean waterfalls
and gorges. Vintgar Gorge cuts deep between the hills. The boarded Tourist
Trail allows us to take an exhilarating walk alongside the waterfalls, rapids
and swirling pot holes with steep beech forest above us.
All this outdoor activity had given us an
appetite and during our stay we enjoy an evening meal at Villa Preseren where
my fellow travellers praised the fish dishes and I enjoyed the local hearty
meat based mountain food. When we left the restaurant after supper, we saw Castle
Bled above us, lit up and looking every bit like a Disney fairy castle. Mr Jaka Azerman, Director of the local
tourist board, said “We live in paradise here”. I agree with him.
The next evening Marko had a treat in store
for us. Dinner on the terrace of Castle Bled. The food was exquisite with
garlic soup, chicken and truffle sauce, a different wine with each course and
desserts to throw the most strong willed into a quandary. Wine buffs tantalised
their noses with the local Slovenian wines. I just enjoyed the taste! The younger members of our group declared
this was The Proposal venue. It is indeed the most romantic spot I have seen.
I love finding out how people live in
different countries and so wandered off to look around a local village. Photographers
and artists will feel their creativity tingle walking past alpine farm houses
with neatly stacked wood piles and hay racks. Just above the village you reach
open pasturelands full of wild flowers and looking like an impressionists
painting. It is a beautiful part of the world.
The centre of the International Wild Flower
Festival is hosted annually in Lake Bohinj which is in the middle of the
Triglav National Park. We will leave Lake Bled and travel an hour south for this experience.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Inghams Lakes &
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