If you google Slovenia, the first image that pops up is of postcard-perfect Bled. It’s a lovely vacation town that sits on a stunning lake with that oh-so-pretty island with a church in the middle. Though it’s just barely an hour from Ljubljana, we picked up a car and drove here to facilitate the next parts of our journey.
When I was backpacking in Europe in college, my parents and two siblings came over and met up with me for a day in Florence. Before that they had courageously wandered into Yugoslavia to a place called Bled. Yugoslavia sure sounded exotic at that time. And this obscure town of Bled sounded surprisingly nice. It took me another 38 years to get here myself.
Despite having seen all those postcard images of Lake Bled, we were still blown away by the beauty of this place. You can walk around the lake in about an hour, and it’s gorgeous from every angle. The color of the water is stunning. A castle rises over one side of the lake. Pretty chalets are sprinkled all around. It’s all ringed by the craggy peaks of the Julian Alps. And that island church is so perfect.
Though we came to Europe to escape the heat and humidity of July in New York, it’s actually been unseasonably hot in much of Europe. In fact, it’s been hotter in Slovenia this week than in New York. Cool blue Lake Bled has been a nice antidote to that.
For another escape from the heat, we hiked about an hour out of town to the Vintgar Gorge. There it takes about an hour to traverse the gorge on a series of boardwalks and footbridges. The air is cool and refreshing, and the river winds and crashes below you. Now we know where the word ‘gorgeous’ comes from. We were again stunned by the beauty of the place. And here we were afraid we were too jaded to be impressed any more!
On one of my walks around the lake I wondered how different it looked when my parents were here in the Yugoslavia of 1984. Was it as beautiful then? Were there as many tourists? Were the pathways as attractive and well maintained? Did my parents walk all the way around the lake? Then I did some math and realized that when they were here they were 11 years younger than I am right now. And 20 years younger than Jim. Now that’s weird.