The Great EU Quest – Slovenia

List Item: Visit all EU countries
Progress: 12/28
Country: Slovenia
Year first visited: 2001

I have been to Slovenia three times. The first time was back in 2001 and then most recently in May of this year (2015) for a long weekend with my partner and a close friend.

List Item: Go on holiday with a friend/group of friends
Progress: Completed

I had been saving writing about visiting Slovenia since I had a feeling that I would be going back there quite soon –  turns out that I was right.

Day 1 – Friday – Getting There

In typical ‘me’ fashion I managed to get some food items ticked off my list during this list. Unlike the trip to Sicily there was no attempt by me to seek these food items I just got lucky  especially since the first one was breakfast at the airport which was gorgeous.

List Item: Try half of the combined 1001 food books

Food item: Huevos Rancheros

It wasn’t the most Slovene way to get the holiday started but who knew they had a Giraffe at London Stansted?

Anyway, so we land at Ljubljana airport at 4pm local time and… it is raining. Luckily for us we knew that it was going to stop in the evening otherwise it would have been very deflating to get there to this sort of weather.

Our base for the holiday was the town of Bled in an apartment owned by a lovely Slovene woman and her family (it’s the Apartment RUS Bled and I highly recommend it). It was only a few minutes from the lake so, obviously, I had to see it again as soon as possible.

This was my third time in Bled, but the beauty of the lake has never lost its impact on me. Even when it was raining it looked beautiful, in a different way. As you can see from the picture it was strangely ominous with very low clouds (well we were about 500m above sea level so maybe they weren’t THAT low).

After dinner at the pizza place attached to the ice hockey arena we spent the night playing cards before heading for bed.

Day 2 – Saturday – Lake Bled

We awoke fairly late. Well, not too late in normal weekend terms, but late for a holiday. The plan for the day? To explore Bled.

The weather had already cleared up and it was very sunny. So sunny that I ended up getting quite a bad sunburn… but anyway. The first port of call was Bled Castle, which was a rather steep climb up some stairs in the cliff face. It was the first of a lot of walking uphill that we would do during this long weekend.

The view from the castle was well worth the climb and the entrance fee. It also allowed for the discovery of some rather disturbing looking Slovene models of olden day peasants.

(creepy no?)

We spent the rest of the day walking around the lake. Literally, we did two complete 6 km circuits of the lake in one go. The first go around was me and my partner by ourselves, our friend joined us for the second circuit.

I mean, it was hard not to. It was just so gorgeous and there were so many different places to just stand and admire the beauty.

We DID stop for cake along the way though. Not just any cake, but the local dessert which was massive. and with a lot of custard and cream.

We got to the end of the second circuit and, whilst I was itching to walk it again, we decided to head back to the place for a shower and then head out for dinner.

Seeing how I was theone making the itinerary I pushed for us to go to a restaurant that served Slovene food. So we ended up going to a restaurant called Gostilna Murka and ate an awful lot since we basically had no lunch.

Food items: Buckwheat Groat and Kielbasa

So this was called The Duke’s Plate and it was ruddy gorgeous. Slovene sausage, sauerkraut, buckwheat mash, a pork steak and some minced meat patty. Nice mustard on the side. My Germanic side was absolutely singing at that moment. So much so that when we returned to this restaurant on our final night we had the same thing again.

Food items: Apple Strudel and Schnapps

At the end of the meal we all got a free shot of schnapps. It was local, it was herbal, it was horrible and very strong (they did the same when we returned but it was blueberry flavoured and actually rather nice).

Day 3 – Sunday – Vintgar

Food item: Smetana

We got up a bit earlier on this day. I was up really early because of REALLY painful sunburn and a heat blister on the back of my neck. Fun(!) We actually got a list dairy product without even trying! It was pretty damned good on bread, even though it is essentially the child of sour cream and cream cheese.

On this day, the focus was on going to Vintgar Gorge, a piece of natural beauty some 3-4 km away. Of course, we walked there and, of course, it was pretty much all uphill on the way there.

Walking through the gorge feels like being in a world that Lara Croft would end up shooting dinosaurs in the face. Despite the bridges and pathways it all just felt so unspoilt. There were even little fish living at random parts along the gorge… and they were truly swimming for dear life.

The whole path takes you through about 1.5 km along the gorge culminating in a wide and spraying waterfall. It was so much cooler than in the gorge, it was incredibly refreshing after a long walk there… and something to long for after a long walk back.

When we got back to Bled there was mini golf and a toboggan trip down the slide of a very large hill. Good times.

Day 4 – Monday – Bohinj

Food item: Cornbread
Progress: 552/933

Another accidental list item here: cornbread. Slovene cornbread to be exact. It was pretty dense which meant none of us actually had too much of it. Probably not the best idea considering…

List item: Go hiking
Progress: Completed

So on our final day we took the bus to Bohinj for two specific reasons: to go on a hike at the top of the Vogel mountain and to visit the Savica waterfall.

Just a taste of the sort of views there were to be had after going up to near the top of the Vogel in a cablecar. It was a pity to be there in the depths of the off-season since all the chairlifts at the top were not functional. Still, that didn’t put us off as we made for one of the shorter hiking trails that took us about an hour to complete.

The amazing thing about the hike, and I guess because of it being off-season, was that we did not come across another human being for the entire hour (and yet still had 4G signal on our phones). It was just the three of us and nature. I also saw some of the bluest flowers that I had ever seen in my life – no filter or camera trickery required to show how vivid they were.

After finishing our hike we took the cable car down and started to make our way to Savica – some 4 km away. All uphill. Needless to say it took a while and we really needed some food by the time we arrived there.

Now, the cruel thing about all this is that we thought we were basically there. On the way we heard a lot of running water and saw some smaller waterfalls. It was all a trick… there were literally hundreds of steps between us and the waterfall.

Needless to say. It was utterly worth it. By the end of the returning walk to the bus stop we worked out we had walked the equivalent of a marathon over the three days. Which is a lot… until you realise there are people who run this in a matter of hours.

After we arrived back at Bled it was time to pack, get in one more round of mini-golf and prepare for the plane trip home.

I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to going back home. The morning we left I sat on a bench at the edge of the lake and just stared out. I will be back again.

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