I remember going through pictures of Slovenia before visiting it this summer. Lake Bled, one of the most popular tourist destinations of the country, evoked a sense of fantasy- as if it was a place right out of a Grimms’ fairy tale.
Located in the town of Bled, the Lake is only an hour and a half drive’s from the capital city of Ljubljana and a very easy day trip.
My journey started quite early and I reached the town of Bled to use the entire day to my advantage. The views were breathtaking! I was astounded by the emerald green colour of the lake and the small island in the middle. Lake Bled really looked right out of a fairy tale with stunning views of the Julian Alps.
I hovered around the area, clicked probably a hundred pictures of Bled and later relaxed myself on a bench. It was truly a sight to behold and one that ignites inspiration, romanticism and creativity.
The entire area of the lake is laden with caffes and tourist activities not to forget a casino, a mini train for the kids and an Irish pub. I sat in one of the caffes and had the very popular Bled Cream Cake- a slice of heaven and then continued walking along the course of the lake. Bled also houses a medieval Castle which is perched on a hilltop ( I told you it was like a fairy tale).
Although almost every other person hikes to the castle, I chose to give it a miss and instead just wandered around the circumference of the lake. It turned out to be the best and most ideal way to see the lake and also quiet simple.
Only a 5 km walk gave me the best views of Bled. If one is spending a day in Lake Bled, it is good to see the better of Bled with a traditional “pletna” ride (maximum of 8 people for EUR 12 each) and visit the Church of Assumption which is right in the centre of the lake.
The Church of Assumption is very charismatic with 14th century frescoes along with a very famous “wishing bell”. According to a legend, anyone who rings the bell gets their wishes fulfilled. Worth a shot, I’d say!
When I was in Slovenia, I was hosted by the very lovely Vesna Veliscek, the owner and founder of Herbal House in Plave, Slovenia. Vesna promotes Herbal House through her own travel company called “Slocally.” (Slovenia with the locals named rightly so)
“The Herbal House” as the name suggests is a relaxing herbal experience away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Adjacent to the Soca river and bordering North Eastern Italy and Western Slovenia, it is the perfect retreat one can get to unwind in Slovenia.
Vesna drove me to the Herbal House in the morning from Ljubljana. I found myself among lush green mountains, fresh air and a quaint mountain cottage. Open 365 days of the year, Vesna’s concept of running this homestay is to meet new people from across the globe and show them her land. With the help of her lovely parents- Ivan and Karmen, whom I had the privilege to meet, she works year round to make stay in the Herbal rooms comfortable for her guests.
Welcoming me with a Slovenian cake and herbal tea, Vesna’s parents were very warm and friendly. I could tell they liked knowing about different cultures and Indian culture was just one on the top. The three of them were a great team and took a lot of pride in showing the place. After some chit chatting and photography, Vesna took me to the Herbal rooms which were on the First Floor.
There were two rooms- one with a queen sized bed that accommodates a single person and one with a king size bed accommodating a family of four. A jar of beautiful pot pourri added a touch of elegance and a rack full of books added to my excitement. The rooms had a common balcony that overlooked the Kurada and Kuk mountains.
These Herbal rooms are rightly called so because of the uniqueness of the mattresses and pillows that are stuffed with hand picked herbs. Vesna and her family add them to enhance the herbal experience. As soon as I lay my head on the mattress, I fell in a deep sleep in no time. It was very peaceful and relaxing. Staying here was one of the distinctive experiences I had in Slovenia.
Thank you dear Vesna for this friendship and a treasure of experience.
How to reach:
From Ljubljana take a bus or train till Nova Goricia from where Plave is only 15 minutes. You can either hitch hike or rent a bike/car to reach Plave. Another option is to car pool directly from Ljubljana itself.
Disclaimer: This post was made possible by Slocally, however views expressed are entirely my own.
I was drenched and cold when I reached the centre of Ljubljana from Italy. I had to meet Iva of Ljubljananjam for a food walk. Not only was this my first day in Ljubljana, Slovenia but also my very first Food Walk!
To top it all, I was left with just a 5% battery on the phone and I wasn’t carrying my camera 😦 It clearly didn’t seem like the best day and I was cursing the rain for the wrong timing.
Thankfully Iva reached in time to rescue me from my glum mood. A true foodie at heart, I found Iva to be a very warm person. Her love for food and her country led her to start the “Ljubljananjam Food Walk” in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Iva, who has also traveled to my country- India, was compassionate with me due to the heavy downpour and made sure we started the Food Walk as soon as possible. There were two more people Marija and Andrej (a brother and sister from Australia), who joined us for the walk, both extremely passionate about food and travel- which made it even more exciting and fun.
The Food Walk:
Our first spot was a cool bar/caffe slightly further from the centre of the town in a small narrow street. It wasn’t one of those places where a tourist would go to. I think my irritation at the rain was soon forgotten. It was only when Iva reminded me to take off my shoes that I realized it and bless her, for I would have caught a cold. We settled in the cozy caffe and were served a bowl of warm sunchoke soup. Blessings to you Iva, you may have saved me from falling sick!
After some introductions and enthusiastic food talks, Iva asked for Bela burja– a wine made in the Burja Estate. She then spoke how the food of Slovenia is influenced by its neighbouring countries such as Austria, Italy and Germany. Their effect has clearly rubbed on the cuisine of Slovenia. Next came a platter of carniola sausage, beef patties and stuffed vegetables. Everything was delicious and extremely fresh! We spent about an hour at the caffe and warm now that I was, I felt in a better mood and was excited for the rest of the fabulous food walk.
We walked from the caffe to the far centre crossing the Pink Church (a famous landmark of the town) and then towards where the cable car was. Just below the cable car stop were a couple of caffes, one of which Iva ushered us into. She introduced us to fresh buna coffee that was a little different from the coffee we drink but strong, freshly roasted and tasty! I regret not buying some of it from the caffe that time.
Anyhow, we savored our coffee while the rain slowed outside. Then we were served the famous “Ljubljana Cake” – a chocolate cake made from chestnuts, almonds, buckwheat and figs. There is a lot more to it than this and again, it was delectable!
Iva sure knows how to keep her tour group happy. I was already quite full but it wasn’t the end yet. From the coffee place, we walked to a part of town with several quaint lanes and graffiti. It was an Italian restaurant/sandwich place where we were served Hugo cocktail with polenta and cheese.
Clearly the best way to end the Food Walk! I don’t have “professional” pictures of the day but I tried what I could with the little battery I had. What I do have is good memories of food, the taste of the soup on my palate, the delicious Ljubljana cake and the brilliant Slovenian wine!
Hvala Iva for this awesome Food Walk and for showing me the yummy side of the Alps 😉 This was really my best evening of Ljubljana!
Thank you Marija and Andrej for being amazing foodies and great conversationalists 🙂 It was so nice meeting you both.
Ljubljananjam Food Walks start at EUR35 depending on the number of people in the walk. Do contact Iva when you are in Slovenia, she is super flexible and customizes Food Walks as per people’s tastes.
I bumped into Iva of Ljubljanajam when I was hiking to the castle and asked her whether I was in the right direction. She jokingly said that every side of the city leads to the castle so I can’t possibly get lost. Ljubljana is a compact town. She was right!
|The “Pink Church” in the centre|
I could see the “Pink Church”, an icon of Ljubljana, majestically in the centre. The Pink Church is also where Free Walking Tours of the city are conducted daily.
Moving my way up, I saw parts of the castle. It was magnificent especially in the sun.
The castle is simple yet spectacular. It was owned by the Hapsburg family in the 14th century and there are parts of the enchanting castle that require an entry while others that are partly free. I was quite surprised about the latter because everything in Europe seems to be paid.
Everything is quite modern and I was surprised to find several open air movie screenings, a restaurant and a souvenir corner. Throughout the year there are also performances and concerts in the premises.
I spent some time at the premises and skipped the guided tours. Instead, I chose to enjoy my view of the city with a sandwich and found great company in Allison of HeadElsewhere. On the way back we took the funicular together.
A spectacular view of the town of Ljubljana left me spellbound! #IFeelsLOVEnia
|Image Courtesy: VisitLjubljana|
For more information on Ljubljana and the castle visit Slovenia Info.
I visited Slovenia this summer with little or no expectation. Most people around me, including myself, knew nothing about it except that it was in Europe. Regardless of that, I decided to take the plunge and see what was in store for me with respect to Slovenia.
The country with LOVE in its name (cheesy, I know) took me by surprise. Writing this post now, I ca think of several reasons that would make YOU visit this beautiful country. Here are a few of them:
Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is famous for multi hued buildings. Check the Pink Church in the middle of the picture below. Lovely, isn’t it? The city has been designed by Slovene architect Joze Plecnik and the Pink Church is his most famous gift to the city of Ljubljana. I also like the Dragon bridge and love this post by Manja on Ljubljana’s Dragons.
There are also several microbreweries in Slovenia, some since the 19th century. I found Lasko & Union to be the most common brands of beer available.
The Soca Valley of Slovenia is another reason to visit this cute country. With the perfect blue colored Soca river flowing though it, Soca Valley is best enjoyed at the Herbal House in Plave. Read my experience on the same here.
Slovenia is really a fairy tale destination. It has several castles to its kitty but the most well known of them all is the one in Lake Bled. The Bled Castle is famous for its gorgeous architecture, breathtaking views and lush green beauty. Tranquillity and nature at its best.
Everyone knows Europe can be crowded and expensive, especially in the summer, but Slovenia turned to be an exception here. The country is still to catch up as one of the “must visit destinations” compared to its neighbours like Italy and Austria. Therefore, there are less tourists which means more locals (who speak English by the way) and more affordability.
Slovenia has everything to offer in the Adventure department too. Right from hiking to water rafting, or horseback riding to sailing. It even has SUPing which is provided by Slocally.
For more information on Slovenia check Slovenia Info.
What did you think of Slovenia? Would love to hear your thoughts!