Traditional and charm: Lake Bled in Slovenia is one of Europe’s most picturesque locations.Hiking through the alpine Slovenian wilderness in mid-summer it’s encouraging to see, regularly posted on suitably rustic signs, directions to the nearest pizza parlour. It is almost lunchtime, time for a snack and a cup of coffee, or perhaps a refreshing glass of Lasko, the beer that’s been brewed by locals since 1825. We’ve just been walking the Vintgar Gorge, an impossibly pretty ravine 4 kilometres north-west of Lake Bled, itself an even more ridiculously picturesque sight.
Our first glimpse of the lake the previous day was on alighting from the train from the south. While handy to the camping grounds, the station is a good hour’s walk (when you’re carrying a pack) from the local town and with no taxis or buses evident, we had plenty of time to drink in the postcard perfect views of the the lake’s island, complete with church, and a castle, Blejski Grad, towering above the tranquil waters. We shuffled past the former summer palace of President Tito, now a luxury hotel.
A corner of the Alps that sweeps down to the Adriatic, Slovenia slots in between Italy, Austria and Croatia. A former territory of the Austrian Habsburg empire and then part of Yugoslavia, the country has retained plenty of traditional buildings and the people exude an effortless bucolic charm. With good roads and public transport and an abundance of English speakers, it’s an easy place to traverse.
We note coach-loads of Australian grey nomads. Perhaps they’re attracted by the history. The Assumption of Mary Church on the lake island boasts 15th-century frescoes, and no visit here is complete without a trip in a pletna, a flat-bottomed wooden boat propelled by a single oarsman. For a few euro you can tour the church and ring the steeple bell. Our hotel, the Astoria, runs the restaurant up the hill in the castle and they make a booking for us. Bjelski Grad first appears in records dating back to 1011. It didn’t pass into Habsburg hands until 1278. The menu includes saddle of deer; venison, like prsut, the vowel-deprived Slovenian version of prosciutto, is a local specialty. A blackcurrant liqueur to finish off, another local specialty, and then a moonlit walk back down the hillside.The facts
FLY Singapore Airlines connecting with Air France for around $2000 return to Melbourne.
STAYAstoria Hotel, Presernova 44, 4260 Bled; Bled Apartments, Ljubljanska cesta 32, 4260 Bled, booking爱杭州同城论坛m
EAT Restavracija Grad Bled, Blejski Grad; Grand Restaurant, Grand Hotel Toplice, Cesta Svobode 12, 4260 Bled; A la Carte Restaurant 1906, Kolodvorska cesta 33, 4260 Bled.