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During our week-long stay in Ljubljana, we wanted to take the opportunity to see a little more of the country, especially Lake Bled. There seemed to be a multitude of ways to get there via organised trips and coaches etc but we decided it might be nice to hire a car. This was a nice idea in some ways, as we had the freedom to roam around the countryside and pop into little towns along the way. However, not being parents, we rarely travel in the summer holidays and this was a reminder why. The narrow roads that surround the lake where gridlocked in places and parking was a great pain. We had to circle the entire lake at one point. I’m glad we made it in the end, but I would certainly suggest coming another time of year if possible. That being said, in the areas around the lake and the eateries etc, it never seemed too crowded. I imagine it’s just not a place designed with cars in mind.
As to the lake itself – there’s a reason it has a reputation – it’s simply stunning. The clearest water, surrounded by trees and pretty buildings. I can imagine it’s a wonderful place to have a holiday home. I imagine the price tag is wonderfully hefty, however.
There’s a little island with a chapel in the middle of the lake which you can get to either by hiring canoes or by getting the gondolier type boats and get pushed along by some poor geezer doing all the hard work. No surprises that we light-weights opted for the latter. This actually took quite a while which probably had something to do with the strong wind which swept in. Little bit stressful when you only have so much time on the car park ticket, but we got there in the end.
The island is tiny and you can walk around the edge very quickly. The water was positively turquoise in places, which I’ve never seen in inland water. There are some steep steps up to the chapel with ubiquitous bell – where you can grab a drink or an ice-cream. Then it’s not long before you head back on the boat.
As a further trip, we decided to check out the Vintgar Gorge. I know it’s a natural place that’s tricky to work with, but it’s packed with people and much of the long, long walkway is only wide enough for one person, so it was really cumbersome. At one point along the waterway, people had pilled up rocks. A real pet hate and inappropriate when you’re somewhere natural. Again, I’m sure this would have been a lot easier, and more pleasant at low season. In the end, we got so fed up, we abandoned the place. Which was just as tedious as you had the thin walkway to navigate most of the way back too. One vital thing to note before you go here only – the tickets are cash only. There were a few hot and bothered tourists finding this out upon arrival, after having parked and trekked up to the entrance.
The Slovenian countryside is really lovely. Definitely looks more to Austria for the architecture and we were more than happy just driving around little villages and towns, stopping for a drink or a bite to eat.
The roads are straightforward and despite it being high season, the highways were never very busy. It was only really around Lake Bled that it choked up a bit.
As you drove from Ljubljana to Bled, rather un-fittingly in the twee local countryside, was a large billboard advertising the Wellcum spa for men. Enough said there.
There are some brilliant places you can stop with vast views over valleys. And there is always good food to be had. It’s definitely less sophisticated out of the city, but always hearty, tasty and a good opportunity to try some of the local specialities.
A picturesque town I would recommend is Radovljica. It’s small but has some nice restaurants. The restaurant Gostilna Avguštin is lovely inside, but go through to the back if the weather is good enough and you will be wowed by the view. The food here was great – but make sure you come hungry.