Some times the stars line up. All summer the rains have plagued the Balkan Peninsula, but we arrive, the clouds part and the skies clear. Yes, it is good to be us! And we could not be happier with the weather especially for our visit to Lake Bled (pronounced blayd). Our stop after Ljubljana.
Against the blue skies the Julian Alps loom large over the crystal clear blue water of the lake. It just is not enough for this to be a stunningly beautiful lake, but add an island with a Venetian style church (bell tower included). The usual method to visit the church is by Pletna boats. Made by hand with a special design passed from father to son. The family-owned boats have been visiting the island since the 17th century. We elected to walk 3.5 miles around the lake rather than take a boat to the island. But one of our tour members took the boat ride and fell in love with the oarsman. She described his silver-streaked dark, thick wavy hair, tanned craggy face and his stories of generations rowing to the island. Of course, she said, “he was impressively fit from all that rowing –all muscle”. At the end of our tour, she said this was her “wow” moment of the whole trip. Maybe I should have taken the boat…
Lake Bled also boasts a 1,000 year-old castle high on a cliff overlooking the lake. The castle is thoughtfully restored both inside and the outdoor courtyard. Although you can hike to the castle, our tour bus made the stop (thank you for small favors—what a climb!). With only 28 people (all very fit) on the tour, we could easily climb the narrow stone stairways to enjoy the vistas.
The only downside to our visit to Lake Bled was the lack of time. I could easily spend a few days here and we were limited to four hours. Along our walk we saw Tito’s vacation home (open to the public) from a distance and many of the older 19th century villas—simply did not have the time to tour inside (you can send an e-mail from Tito’s personal desk—what a hoot!). Our walk did include a friendly visit with local artist, Bobi. His watercolors were extremely affordable and after purchasing one, he quickly painted a shadow painting of himself and me on the back! I am torn on which side to display.