This is probably going to make me sound like a travel agent, but Slovenia is like a tiny best of Europe package deal. At the center you have, Ljubljana, the cutest city ever. Head South and you can absorb Balkan culture and strange Karst landscapes. Go west towards the Adriatic and you might as well be in Italy. Finally, head up north to the Julian Alps and it’s pretty much little Austria.
I’d never seen any portion of the Alps before, and the first thing I noticed hopping off the bus was the air. That clean crisp Alpine air was like nothing I’d every breathed before. I don’t usually go around thinking about air, but the crystal quality is amazing, like champagne.
Bled is really the premier attraction in Slovenia. It lives up to the hype. It’s a town for big busloads of tourists yes; but Bled is stunning.
Surrounded by snowy mountains, Bled is centered on a glassy postcard perfect lake. In the center is perched a miniature island church. To get to it you can take a touristy boat taxi, but I recommend hiring a rowboat from one of the many shore side companies. It requires a bit of muscle but it’s a beautiful and invigorating ride (If you can, do what I did and get a strong Englishman to row you around).
On the far end of the lake is Bled Castle. Perched on an absolutely massive crag of rock, it is everything an imposing mountain fortress should be.
The hike up is…challenging (luckily I’d sharpened my fortress invading skills a few weeks earlier). But the castle at the top is pleasant with a neat museum and an intriguing wine cellar (where you can bottle your own wine for a fee). The view is spectacular of course.
Just a small corner of Triglav National Park, the gorge is only a couple miles from Bled. We decided to walk there one day and the rich green fields, alpine farms and cows that looked like they wandered of a cream cheese box.
It was significantly cooler down in the narrow gorge. A hundred year old wooden walkway winds through gorge, cutting across velvety green rushing rapids.
I often say that I’m a city girl, but I can’t think of anything better than the crisp clarity that comes with being high in the mountains. And the air of course, my god that air.