Day 515 – 28 July, 2016
A first glimpse of Lake Bled appears something out of a fairy tale. A majestic castle towers over everything below. A glacier-fed lake is the centerpiece. And a romantic little church on an island in the center of the lake is the cherry on top.
That first afternoon in our private little daydream, it rained, however. Not just a little rain, it was an impressive downpour. Somehow, we walked up to the castle and back before the blue black clouds dumped on us. The remainder of the afternoon was spent drinking wine and sitting and taking in the view while under the shelter of a tented patio. Let me say that Martyn has become remarkably better at sitting, one of my favorite pastimes, although we usually accompany it with animated political discussion or global economic banter. When the rain finally ceased, the mist rising off the lake whimsically circled Church of the Assumption on the island. Rain or not, this was truly a special place.
The lake is approximately 6-7km around and the perfect distance for a nice stroll. There are legends relating to the healing powers of Lake Bled and historically, travelers have come from all over Europe to absorb the fresh air and nutrient-rich liquid gold. Martyn and I stopped several times to dip in the water and to trek up to Osojnica and Ojstrica viewpoints. The water was cold, yet far warmer than the Soca River. I was absolutely enchanted by its beauty.
Vintgar Gorge is a short(ish) walk or bike ride away. We walked, although I will state for the record, there is no shade for the entire route. Depending on what time of year one visits, the heat can be unbearable and make the walk seem ALOT longer. Drenched in sweat by the time we found the park gate, Martyn and I were busy thinking about ice cream and cold beer rather than the natural attraction we had walked all the way to admire. Narrow wooden platforms have been constructed along the walls of the gorge, turbulent gushing water under our feet. It was really a beautiful place. The shadows at that time of day unfortunately wouldn’t allow the photos to do it justice. And because the walkways were so narrow and they were meant to service an out and back path, the foot traffic would bottleneck, leaving a strong sense of claustrophobia. Luckily, the shadows were a relief from the heat and if we needed a break from the crowds, there were a few spots to get closer to the water.
Neither Martyn or I had ever tried paddle boarding and after seeing Lake Bled, I can’t think of a better place to try it. The water is calm. There are no motorized boats or jet skis to watch out for. And in case you fall in, the water is clean unlike some city river paddle boarding I’ve seen. We rented for only an hour and used our new transportation to visit each side of the lake, circling the small island in the middle for a closer look and racing back again. I found myself wishing I would fall in because the water looked so inviting. Both of us remained upright, but as soon as we handed back our paddles and boards, I dove right off the pier. I couldn’t bear to stay on dry land. Do we really have to leave this place?
On the day Martyn was due to leave, we again spent the afternoon in and out of the lake and had timed it so that we could catch a bus back to our hostel in time for his shuttle to the airport. We waited for that bus and we waited and waited, but it never came. It was raining and he was starting to get anxious and I understood. With only about 40 minutes left, we started walking the 3 1/2 miles bac Lesce where we were staying. It was my fault, but we weren’t moving fast enough. I was wearing those blasted flip flops again that day so it was impossible to run or even walk at a brisk enough pace. I had to say goodbye to Martyn on the side of the road halfway between Bled and Lesce while he ran on ahead to catch his shuttle. It felt like a sad conclusion to such a nice week, although it wouldn’t be long before we were planning many more trips together. All the goodbyes can’t be perfect, but we would have more chances to keep trying!