Sunday, May 22, 2022. Our European adventure continues. The previous post can be found here: https://whereisgrandma.com/2022/05/25/croatia-part-2-zadar-ugljan-island-and-preko-the-european-adventure-continues/
We left Mukinje, where we’d stayed to visit Plitvice National Park bright and early on the 6:50 am bus to Zagreb. There we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and some good coffee before taking the 12:15 bus to Ljubljana. The border crossing was fun. Even on a public bus we all filed out to get our passports checked. He barely glanced at mine. Back in the bus to the Slovenian side where we got the passports stamped. 5 minutes down the road the bus stopped for a 5 minute break that ended up being more like 20. We’d been in the bus 1.5 hours and gone about 20 km. Apparently the driver knew what he was doing as we arrived in Ljubljana right on time. There we purchased a ticket for Lake Bled. That bus was supposed to get us less than a km from the Dolar rooms so I was surprised when the driver said we were at the last stop. It was still 3.2 km away. We asked at the tourist info how to get closer. The dude was totally unhelpful. He said we could call a taxi. (Uber is not allowed in Bled) Riiight. I don’t speak Croatian. That would be a treat. So we walked. Another reason to pack light. It was stinking hot too.
Our host was very surprised to learn the bus wouldn’t go any further but we learned that we could use that stop to go back and on to Bohinj when we wanted. With what was left of the day we walked around a bit, getting our bearings and enjoyed dinner at the Starkl. We wanted to get groceries as a wonderful benefit to most hostels in the use of a kitchen, but the grocery stores are closed on Sundays. You don’t hear that often anymore!
It’s a very picturesque Lake!
Monday. We’d spent the previous night making onward travel plans and figuring out how to entertain ourselves in Bled. It’s a gorgeous town and we’d already taken 76 pictures (slight exaggeration) of the castle and island church. We started with a walk around the lake and climbed the hill to the castle. Next we tackled the hike to the Ojstrica view point. This trail is labeled “intermediate, requiring sure footing”. No problem. Right. It had rained the night before making the already slightly “technical” hike VERY slippery. We found a stick along the path which really helped. Part of the climb up the rocks is made easier with a heavy wire handrail fastened to the side of the mountain. The view at the top is a wonderful reward.
Then the climb down. I was NOT looking forward to that! We picked our way down the hill, our trusty sticks serving as a fantastic security device. We met some folks just starting from the bottom and offered them the sticks. At first they said no, they were fine. I said “trust me. You’ll want it. It’s SLIPPERY”; of course using lots of gestures as they didn’t speak English. They took them.
Our reward for this accomplishment was a giant piece of cream cake at the Belvedere Cafe. It’s THE place to go for a good view while eating delicious cake. Cream cake is a specialty of Bled so of course we had to try it. It was REALLY good! We might have to try it again. 😉
We hadn’t had enough hiking yet so we headed into town to do a hike I’d found on a blog somewhere. We had to follow a map. Apparently we’re not good at that as we totally missed the things we were supposed to see. Oh well. It was a nice walk through the residential areas and through a bit of Bled mountain. By then it was dinner time so we walked to the other side of the lake to a place near the castle. I had the trout filet and grilled veggies. Twas delicious!!
That was a 35,000 step day. We’re tired.
Tuesday. After cooking ourselves a good breakfast we headed for the bus stop and took it to Bohinj Lake. There we wandered till it was time to catch the boat to Ukanc. You can buy individual tickets but the best deal was a combo ticket that included boat, cable car and lunch. Bonus.
Note that the combo ticket is not well advertised. There’s a sign on the boat dock and you can buy tickets on the boat.
Next was the cable car ride all the way up Vogel Mountain. After checking out all the views and paths on that level we enjoyed a beef stew lunch with strudel for dessert (included in the ticket). From there we were to take a chair lift further up for some nice hikes BUT the chair lift wasn’t running. So. We hiked up the mountain. At about 5 km pretty much straight up and then down we decided that was enough so enjoyed the view for a while then headed back down.
Again we caught a local bus that took us back to Bled where we got ourselves an ice cream and just relaxed in the park by the lake for a while.
Wednesday May 26. Today I fried up bacon to go with breakfast. Yum. Then we walked to the bus station to catch the shuttle to the Vintgar gorge. The shuttle was 10 euros and the entrance to the gorge 10 as well. You can walk as it’s about 5 km but rain was in the forecast. And we felt lazy. The walk around the gorge is only supposed to be about 2 km but you can also visit a waterfall, which of course we did. The gorge is gorgeous as you can see from the pictures. The walk back to the shuttle meeting point was a good hike through the woods, most of it up hill. So when we got back to town we decided we deserved Bled’s special cake “kremna rezina” at the Hotel Park where it was first created. I had to have a scoop of their award winning ice cream too. I really had a hard time finishing the cake but…. it was SOO good and I have issues with food waste. The walk back to the hotel did me good. 😉
We waited out the rain then decided to take one more walk around the lake, this time in the other direction. It really did add a different perspective and by the time we were done we were ready for dinner. Starkl’s was good the first night so we went back. I got the stuklj, a typical Slovenian dish. Twas delicious!
Thursday. We caught the bus at the Mlino stop which was MUCH closer than the bus station. There was road construction and lots of traffic so the bus took an extra half hour. One young man missed a connecting bus because of it. Uh oh
After dropping our bags off in luggage storage at the Hostel Tressor we spent the next couple hours wandering around the old time. We said goodbye to Wendy who was moving on to Zagreb and then home and Sue and I went to walk in Trivoli park. There are some great trails there that kept us amused for a couple hours.
Back at the hostel we could check in. Since they had laundry facilities we took the opportunity to wash all our clothes. After a while, sink laundry doesn’t cut it.
Friday. I hit the pavement by 7:30 am. I only had one full day in Ljubljana and I wanted to make the best of it. First I climbed the hill to the castle. After walking around it about 3 times I studied the price list, trying to decide if I really wanted to go in. Basically what I wanted was to climb the tower to get a picture of the 3 bridges. From what I could see that wasn’t going to happen and it was 13 Euros to get in. I didn’t really need to see another castle. So off I went. I visited the grounds, the vineyard and made my way down to the Botanical gardens. The gate was wide open so I guess it was free. I tried to take a short cut back to town but of course that didn’t work and I ended up totally lost. Oh well. The residential section of Ljubljana is nice too.
The market had a whole new section today. It looked like some kind of food festival as there were stalls advertising food from various places. I decided to try a shwarna like thing from Egypt. I wanted to sit at a table to eat it so picked one on the river wall and just ordered coffee. They never seem to push you to leave no matter how little you order.
I wandered some more looking for interesting details and dragons as Ljubljana is the city of dragons so they’re everywhere. The Metelkova area is known for graffiti and street art and I managed to find some of it. In one area it was covering the walls of a parking lot. As I wandered I noticed a group of young men, they were drinking and they seemed to watch me. My gut was telling me this was not safe so I nonchalantly tucked my phone deep into my bag and walked in the other direction at a good clip, making it look like I totally knew where I was going. I’m sure they were perfectly fine but I’ve learned to just trust my instincts. I was alone, carrying very few valuables but I did NOT want to lose my phone.
By then it was 4 pm and I was to meet Sue for dinner at 6 so I decided to take a boat cruise. It goes into the old city, up the canal and even the river for a bit. It was really nice and relaxing and I even learned a few things.
Weird sculptures and other interesting things in Ljubljana
Twas a very good day. We treated ourselves to a nice dinner at Valvas’Or 35,000 steps so I earned an ice cream for dessert. Cacao near the pink church seems to have the most flavours so that’s where we went.
The next day we’re off to Salzburg, Austria! Stay tuned 😀 That post is here: The European adventure continues into Austria. 2 days in Salzburg. The Sound of MUSIC!