To travel by car from Austria to Slovenia we drove along great roads with scenic mountain capped views. Just heavenly this time of year in June covered in green foliage.
To travel these roads you need a vignette which cost 15 euros for 7 days. We also needed a vignette to drive on the roads in Austria which cost 10 euros for a week. You can buy the vignette sticker for your car at the petrol station before crossing the border. The fines are hefty if caught without one.
We believed they were a small cost to pay when you realise the huge engineering feat to build these alpine roads. We also drove through some pretty long tunnels that went through the mountains.
We also encountered 2 tolls on our journey out of Austria (one of 11.50 Eur and the other 7.20 Eur) as we embarked through an extremely long tunnel which went for 7.5 kilometres. We drove over massive bridges and at elevated heights of more than 1330 meters above sea level.
Just before entering the toll booth for the big tunnel that would drive us into Slovenia the traffic came to a stand still for an hour and a half. An accident deep somewhere inside the tunnel. This tunnel only has a lane each way as tunnelling through a mountain is an extremely costly venture.
Finally we made it to Lake Bled. This gem can only be truly appreciated by viewing it with your own eyes. An emerald green oasis. The wonder and awe of seeing an emerald lake for the first time was overwhelming!!! Our Airbnb apartment was called – Apartments Muznik. A perfectly situated apartment for us to explore Lake Bled. Our apartment was situated 400 meters walk to the lake down a very cute lane way. Our apartment backed onto a creek. The noise of the fast flowing waterway added a nice calming atmosphere.
We walked 300 meters down the lane and brought 3 days worth of food from the only shop close to the lake. It was only a small but it had the best freshly baked apple strudel and spinach and cheese strudels which were under 2 euros!! It was a warm sunny afternoon so we jumped into our swimmers and we went for a walk along the crystal clear lake. I took a swim in the alpine lake which was refreshing and very peaceful and serene with a view of the alpine mountains all around. Rob found it a little chilly so he viewed my joyful water play from the shallows.
On our first full day we were once again blessed by a stunning summer morning. We were eager to do the full 6.5 kilometre walk around the lake. As we set off we admired the traditional timber row boats that lined the lake shore. These are called pletna boats. These traditional boats and clear waters made us fell like we were in the Thailand of Europe!!!!
We walked along the lake path towards the main town area. It was hard not to be overwhelmed by how crystal clear the lake water was. It had a glass like appearance which made us feel like we were looking into the lake as if snorkelling. The lake edge towards town was full of beautiful underwater plants that swayed with the movement of the water.
Ducks and swans swam gracefully on the emerald waters. We knew we were in a special place again when the Blejski Fijakerji, which is the horse and carriage came trotting passed. Another cool way to travel here if you are not a walker is on the very cute tourist train. These cute little trains lurk in all the tourist destination around Europe, but are new to the Aussie eye.
We found a perfect picturesque restaurant that overlooked the lake for coffee.
The small birds also sat with us to admire the view of the mountains, castle and nearby church.
As we found a great heartfelt photo spot where we got chatting to two young Aussies on a six week summer trip. They were the second set of Australians that we had seen and spoken to in 7 months.
From the waters edge we had a clear view over to the sled park where you can travel at speeds up to 40 kilometre down a sled track. We didn’t need take thrill as we had recently left the autobahns behind in Germany where cars were flying past us at 200 kilometres an hour.
We walked around the first curve of the lake and headed up the steps to explore the church that sits near Lake Bled.
Then we climbed the stairs to check out the view at the top of Bled Castle. Lake Bled Castle is the oldest Castle in Slovenia. It was first mentioned in 1011. It sits perched on a high cliff 130 meters above Lake Bled. We found many great view points as we climbed but our favourite was a love heart view hole in the trees with views over the lake.
The summer tourist crowd were very chatty. We meet another Aussie travelling alone from Melbourne and at the top we got chatting to a group of travellers from Scotland. Tips and experiences were joyfully shared. The view from the top was stunning.
Lake Bled has well maintained walking paths alongside the lake. I have read that you are not allowed to walk on the grass. I watched a man watering the grass by carrying a large heavy bucket. In some areas new grass was being freshly laid in front of the lake. I am assuming this maintenance of laying grass must happen each summer??? As the lake freezes over in winter and can be used to walk and skate on at your own risk!!!
A little further along we found a great ice cream bar I tried cinnamon and berry yogurt which was amazing, just what we needed as it was a really hot day. We liked the creative way they were keeping the drinks cool.
We followed the timber board walk and then stopped to admire the beautiful lillies growing in the water. You could clearly see all the stems which made it look like and underwater forest.
Then a huge school of fish took our eye. We have stood and watched many that stay close to the water’s edge.
I decided to head in for another swim myself. There are parts of the lake that say no swimming but we found many great secluded spots to take a dip. As the afternoon summer storm clouds lowered in the sky we hopped aboard a traditional boat to head over to Bled Island but it wasn’t meant to be. The heavens opened and hail came down. The boats shut down and we were left to wander back to our apartment wearing our trusty emergency rain coats.
We spotted a mother duck and her duckling trapped out in the storm along with us!!!
On our second full day we tried once again to head to the island. Bled Island is the only natural island in Slovenia. The lake itself is a glacier lake and is 2120 meters long and 1380 meters wide. There are many ways to get to the island. You can swim from the shore, row yourself for around 10 euro, go for a ride on the electric cruise boat or as we did, take the traditional timber pletna boat with its colourful awning, manned by a fit rower. They say if you don’t take a ride on a traditional pletna boat you haven’t experienced Lake Bled. The originals of the pletna boat date back to 1590. The origin of the name pletna boat can from the German word plateboot meaning flat bottom boat. The pletna boat can hold up to 20 passengers. The pletna oarsmen is a profession that was handed down from generation to generation. Our young pletna oarsmen propelled us safely across the lake with ease whilst we watched people trying to work out how to row themselves across in smaller row boats. The cost for us to go over and back was 14 euros each you don’t pay until the return journey. It took about 15 mins to get over and you have about 45mins to look around before your boat then returns.
Once on the island we wasted no time … we climbed the the steep 99 steps and took in the beautiful view. This island holds many legends… one talks about the groom having to carry his bride up the 99 steps if he wishes to marry her!!! Lucky Rob and I are already married, though I think he could do it as he has been practicing carrying our luggage up tiny step stairwells on our travels.
I had been looking forward to visiting this mystery island for two days. From the banks of Lake Bled we constantly could hear the Church bell ring from this pretty island that sits in the middle of the lake.
We eagerly paid 6 euros each and headed into the small island church which is hidden on this lush green island. It is called The Church of the Mother God and it was built in 1465. A Wishing Bell hangs from the upper nave of the Church beams. Legend has it that a young wife had a bell cast after losing her husband but it sank in the lake. It is believed if you ring the bell and make a wish your wish will come true. Being a lover of bells I couldn’t resist!!! Here’s hoping my wish will come true!!!!
We then climbed the 52 metre free standing bell tower to view the pendulum clock that hangs down through the centre of the tower. Old clocks are another favourite of mine. At the top we waited as the clock chimes every 15 minutes.
The views once again of this beautiful emerald lake we stunning from all view points on the island.
Interesting information that we read was that traces of human life on the island date back to 8th century B.C. with 124 graves from the 9th – 11th century were found on the island.
The island and the castle have both been restored throughout history due to earthquakes!!! Putting that aside we really enjoyed our 3 night stay here at Lake Bled.