Wakie wakie! Today was going to be a jam packed day with an exciting line up.
The tour for the day was pre booked and pick ups and drop offs were included. Since our hostel was located in a very central area, parking wasn’t available. Thus, our pick up was going to be a few blocks away from Hotel Lev . We had our breakfast at the hostel. As mentioned, it was a very laid back hostel. The breakfast started at 8 really but they asked us to help ourselves in the morning if we were going to have an early start. So we did. Had our breakfast by 7:30am and walked towards the pick up point. We were a bit early so we decided to have a coffee at the hotel’ restaurant with an outdoor setting (so we can keep an eye on the van). Jay had a cappucino while we discussed some points for the blog. The van arrived soon and since we were the last ones to be picked up, we sat next to the driver. Best seat for awesome views coming up of the country side. There were 6 of us in the van. A mother-daughter duo and a young Chinese couple.
Our first stop was Lake Bled island. It was an hour and a half drive. It was amusing to see the cars driving in the opposite direction. It was a bit funny that the traffic announcement on the radio once mentioned about a car driving in the wrong direction. 😝😝😂.
First stop was Lake Bled. There was 2 places in lake Bled which we planned to visit. Firstly the island with 100 steps to the church and a walking path around the island. Our tour guide/driver briefed us on the history of the Bled, the church and castle. When we reached lake Bled, we waited for the other tour buses to come. We all sat in the hand crafted wooden boat which was rowed by hand to the island. There were approx 15 of us in the boat and we got the best seat…the one right in the middle. It was a very pleasant and serene ride to the island. He skilfully parked the boat 🚣 and we all agreed to meet back in 45 mins. We went on a photos galore with the beautiful views. Climbed up the 100 steps to the church. We didn’t really want to visit the church from inside so we just explored the outside. After drinking the awesome views with our eyes we went down again and with some more time on hand we decided to take a walk around the island. I am glad we did. So serene and great views- all varied from different spots. We found a nice spot and as I always do, I couldn’t wait to dip my feet in the clear waters. We sat down for a while and took in the calmness. It was a great spot with great light for a quick photo session. Which we did! Also asked random people on the way to click our photos. PS- our favourite pastime is watching people take photos. The poses that THEY strike is hilarious. Anyways, photographer is allowed to take all the liberties in an effort to take a good photo. That’s a piece of an insider joke for you. Anyways, we came back and everyone was really calm on the way back in the boat.
We got off and awaited for our driver.
Next destination was Bled Castle. With this castle it was more about the views from the top (as it was in a significant height) than about the actual castle. The ban went all the way to the top with only a few hundred meters to walk to enter the castle. The guide went in and bought our tickets to enter the castle. He recommended us to visit the castle and also briefly told us about the history of the place. How it was a very popular spot to hold lavish weddings (they were actually preparing for a wedding when we went there). This castle is over 1000 years old and had was never occupied by a king or a knight. It had always been under the church. But during communist era it was owned by the government and became a national property. Post communist era it was sold to a private company and since then it had remained so. We took a brief tour of the museum but the magnificent views drew us outside. The views were spectacular and we could see the island from top. My words would fail to explain the beauty. I hope the photos attached does a partial justice to the place. We spent a good one hour here and got drunk on the views.
Lunch By Lake Bled At Vila Preseren
From atop, our guide showed us a restaurant which has the best cream cake (a traditional Slovenian speciality). I hoped that we would be third time lucky in trying the traditional dish in Slovenia. This was the next stop after the castle. It was lunch time and Bled had an open kitchen day too. Guide walked us to the restaurant and suggested trying the cake. We weren’t sure of the portion size so we decided to start from backwards I.E. have the dessert first and then depending on stomach space we order the mains. We saw the menu which had heaps of vegetarian options and zeroed in on having lunch here rather than the open kitchen. We both had a sandwich each with fries to share. Sipped on the local muskat and beer while people watching by the serene lake. Introducing the hero of the day – the cream cake! So yum! Absolutely loved it and the hype around it wasn’t false. Third time lucky it is!
With our stomachs full, we sat back in the van enroute to our next destination. There was a traffic congestion (9-12kms) on the highway and our driver had been keeping a close watch on the traffic all day. Hence we took a detour through the villages. It was fascinating to see the real Slovenia. The countryside, small shops, houses and farms. The front seat advantage meant I could ask the driver about the lifestyle etc. All the houses were tastefully decorated with almost every house having cottage flowers on each and every window. Some more beautiful than others. We went to the rock castle. It was a castle which was built over the years and occupied by a noble knight. He escaped from Yugoslavian prison and stayed here with his family. He died in this castle (in a small toilet)when he was trying to escape the soldiers who came to recapture him. His wife was really sad after he died and legend has it that his wife buried him right in front of the castle and planted a lemon tree on his grave. The tree still exists till date. Behind the castle there is a channel of caves which is at least 12 kms. The guide bought our tickets which were combo tickets for the caves too. He took us to different parts of the castle and told us a brief history about the castle, legend of the knight and the landscape/terrain around the castle. Then we were left on our own to explore it. We walked around, climbed the steps to the top of the cave channel. Great experience. Took some photos and rang the bell which has a legend to fulfill ones wishes. We came back to parking ready for the last stop – Postojna caves.
We already had a ticket and the driver gave us a brief on the caves. He didn’t say much as we were going to take a guided tour. After a short break, we met near the entrance. We were told to carry some warm clothes as the temperature inside the caves will be as low as 10 degrees. Jay and me were in our summer clothes and decided to rent a coat before going in. Our tour started at 4 o’clock. Tours of the caves start every full hour only. As soon as we entered we saw a mini train which we were supposed to board to enter the caves. We boarded the train and woah! what a kick start to the experience. The train went through some really narrow passages and low height tunnels. We passed some magnificent stalactites and stalagmites formations. The train took us 2kms inside the caves. The total discovered depth is 25kms till date. Once we got off the train we were greeted by our tour guide – English speaking. She took us through the caves while explaining the different formations, age and time it takes etc. We have visited Naracoote caves in South Australia but this was on a much larger scale and grander.
We were in the caves for some 1.5 hrs. Our walking tour inside the cave ended near the return rail stop. We took a train back to the exit and made our way to the the van.
The traffic on the way back had eased by now so we took the highway to Ljubljana. We asked the driver to drop us to the city centre so we could grab a quick bite before going back to the hostel.
We went to the same place as the day before for dinner- foculus. They made yummy stone baked pizzas for us. We had our dinner in the street boulevard and walked back to the hostel. After a quick shower, we set alarm for 4:30am and called it a ‘fabulous’ day.