I was one of the first to board the bus so I picked a window seat on the side of the door and watched the latecomers climb aboard. Some had luggage so were presumably heading off to their next destination. The bus went all the way to Trieste and I felt a fleeting pang of jealousy; why was I heading back to England tomorrow and not going to Italy?! The rest had smaller day bags so probably had the same plans as me- a day trip to Lake Bled.
As the coach pulled out of Ljubljana bus station the sun streamed in through the window. I reached above me to turn on the AC in an attempt to fend of some of the heat. I remembered a guy in Zagreb telling about me how he didn’t wear sun-cream and got burnt in Lake Bled as he didn’t think it’d be hot in Slovenia. I smiled to myself because here I was being the same kind of idiot.
Slovenia gets hot in the summer, people!
The coach trundled down little county lanes that ran right alongside the grassy edge of the fields. It ran over tiny rocky bridges crossing streams which danced and glistened under the late summer sun. It passed the orange skylines of towns unknown to me, it passed by lone religious shrines on the roadside, and it squeezed itself through tiny country villages before pulling up at Bled bus station, one and a half hours later.
The Lake was behind the bus station (I don’t know what I was expecting here. Was I expecting to be able to dive straight off the coach into the water??), and to get to it required a very short walk through a cute little park. By coming at the lake from this direction the first thing you see is a bit of water, no castle or island in the middle that Lake Bled is so famous for, and there was a great big hotel at water’s edge. I even questioned whether I was in the right place at this point.
As soon as I wandered just a little bit further, the rest of the lake stretched out in front of my eyes and I definitely knew I was in the right place then. I stared out across the vast, clear blue water in awe. I spotted the island, which looked like it had been pulled straight from the pages of Pinterest, and the Pletna boats, all full and steadily gliding from all directions. Craning my neck upwards I spotted the castle perched high above me on a hilltop.
It was late morning by now and the sun was getting more fierce by the minute. I started strolling along the, surprisingly empty, pathway, only having to step aside for the occasional horse and cart. I considered making the trek up the hill to the castle but decided it was too hot to do it and decided I’d wander up if I had time later on when the sun had started to dip for the day.
I carried on further down the path where it started to veer off and away from the lake somewhat. There was a path underneath, broken up by a couple of small buildings- private property- and grassy embankments with statues perched on top. The embankments were also full of trees, and in between every few trees was a large gap which framed the island perfectly. Further along still the lake and the path finally came closer together. Every so often the lake’s shore cut away forming a small beach area, a perfect private beach spot. I could have stayed in one of those spots all day, swimming in the lake, or reading a book in the sunshine.
On the other side of the lake I sat on a less secluded beach section, where a lot of people had seemed to have had the same idea. I sat not far from a woman sunbathing with her dog whilst her husband swam in the lake. My feet dangled in the cool water and the ripples a few nearby swimmers made as they swam close by made the water splash my shins. I watched the Pletnas- Lake Bled’s answer to Gondolas- as they ferried people to and from the island in the middle. I watched a lone paddle boarder effortlessly row himself across to the centre of the water, and I watched a couple climbing into a boat they had just rented out. The moment didn’t require thinking, just watching and taking it all in.
The lake itself was so serene and peaceful that I really didn’t want to think about life.
Outside of a pub further down I found where some of the Pletnas left the shore and joined the long queue. When a boat docked, and the queue didn’t go down except for three Australians, I hesitated, not wanting to queue jump, until the Australian girl- a girl around my age- took it upon herself to fill the boat and came and ushered me onto it. On our way out to the island she told me she was studying in Slovenia, and she introduced me to her mother who was visiting and her Slovenian aunt who lived in Bled. I ended up exploring the tiny island with them too.
Once the boat dropped us off we had 15 minutes to explore before it picked us back up again. The only way onto the island was up 99 stone steps. On top of the steps was pure beauty, from the small white house covered in vine plants, to the church and its gardens, to the stunning views of the rest of the lake. On the island, 6 Euros gets you entry into the small church, where you can ring the bell from a large rope hanging down from the ceiling (they say it brings good luck!), and entry into the bell tower, which offers a bit of history of the island and lovely views (although the views aren’t as good as the ones from the bell tower in Zadar, which isn’t caged off).
We got back to the dock earlier than the Pletna picking us up so we sat dangling out legs into the water, not even caring that there was absolutely no other way to get back to the mainland.
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to explore the castle as I had to rush the rest of the way around so that I didn’t miss the coach back. Maybe next time though, eh?
As I was leaving I noticed there was a love heart standing at the end of a pier and people had fastened love lockets to it. Usually I find these a little cliche but with this one I thought it was the absolute perfect setting. I looked over at it, a little wistfully, and noticed the sun beginning to set on the island behind it, grateful to have seen such beauty with my own eyes.
I absolutely adore Lake Bled and one day I want to stay in the private beach house there! Has anyone been to Lake Bled? What did you think?
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