LAKE BLED, Slovenia | Travel Chronicles.

Lake Bled undoubtedly is a dream destination for many travellers, due to its romantic and scenic landscape which perfectly combines with a considerable number of attractions of any kind. At long last, I finally had the opportunity to take part in its unexpected autumnal magic, and today I’m here to share with you my experiences and thoughts on this Alpine gem.

(A PRETTY LONG) INTRODUCTION

Lake Bled had always fascinated me, ever since I first found a picture of this magical place on my Instagram feed, a few years ago. The person who had published that photo was a girl who, back to that time, I was following quite assiduously: I recall I liked the way she expressed her feelings and thoughts, as well as the moments of her life she decided to share with her followers. That day, in particular, I remember she posted a snap of a bunch of photos taken with a disposable camera of her most recent travel, that is a road trip taken with her boyfriend which let her discover the beauties of Slovenia and Croatia.
I can’t deny that, the moment when this picture caught my eyes, the first thing I noticed was related to the fact it was the first time in year I saw photos taken with a disposable camera: I used to take photos with it all the time when I was a child, during school trip or afternoons with friends, and a peculiar feeling of lovely melancholia took me back to those childhood memories. Under this feeling of strong nostalgia and melancholia, I didn’t pay full attention to the caption which framed the Instagram post: “Slovenia was an unexpected discovery, one of the most beautiful and intense experiences of my life”.
At that moment I stopped: Slovenia? It was the first time I had ever heard of that country as a remarkable travel destination. Even though I had lived for years in a town which only was 2 hours away from the border with Slovenia, neither my family or friends had ever mentioned the points of interest of this country, nor they knew about them. Localities like Spain, France, the UK constantly were the talk of anyone surrounding me (and on the local media), and Slovenia inexorably fell, fortunately or unfortunately, in that big group of forsaken countries neglected by mass tourism.

Back to the telling of my story, that digital encounter came like an epiphany to me: I had finally come to realize that Slovenia wasn’t a simple name in Europe’s map I needed to remember during Geography tests in school, but it was an actual destination full of beauties waiting to be discovered.
In that Instagram snap, in particular, the place which had been printed in those souvenir pictures was Lake Bled and, despite their grainy resolution, it deeply fascinated me. I was so intrigued by the presence of an outstanding tower bell on the island in the middle of the lake, and that day I promised myself one day I would have given myself the chance to pay a visit to this natural heaven. And to be fair, it didn’t feel as something impossible to do in a short-term, considering the relative proximity of my hometown to the Slovenian border.

Ultimately, this small dream of mine came true exactly last week, on November the 4th, during a road trip I took part in with my family. We only had 2 days at our disposal due to my stepfather’s working duties, and at first, the intention was to spend two days and one night in a nearby Italian city. However, thanks to my persistent pressure, I was able to change my parents’ mind and lead them to opt for a destination they had never taken into account: Slovenia.
To be exact, it wasn’t our first time ever in this country, because we had already been to Slovenia once in our life. On Easter Sunday of 2017 we indeed went to Postojnska Jama, one of the most beautiful caves discovered so far, and let it amaze us with its colours and hidden gems (I have already talked about my visit to this majestic place, and you can read it at the following link:  POSTOJNSKA JAMA, Slovenia | Travel Chronicles.). However, I must emphasize that this destination is one of the most well-known places, promoted especially by Italian mass tourism, so it was no surprise my parents had developed a certain interest in this place: as I could soon discover once I stepped in this attraction, it felt like I had never crossed the Italian border because all that I could hear was people speaking my native tongue. This way it definitely was a unique and deep (in every sense) experience, but it didn’t include that specific thrill to have effectively arrived in a new country.
After that day spent in the depth of the Slovenian caves, moved by a strong feeling of dissatisfaction for not having been able to experience the country as much as I wanted to, I started putting pressure on my family to set Slovenia as a new travel destination for a family trip. They never gave me credit, continuing to claim that Italy had so much to offer and there was no reason to cross the border for a country poor in points of interest, but they eventually gave up and gave me the responsibility of planning a 2 day trip to Ljubljana and Lake Bled, fulfilling one of my long-time desires.
This is how I ended up seeing Lake Bled, in all its natural Autumn beauty with my very own eyes.


LAKE BLED AND ITS ACTIVITIES

If you ever looked for blog articles related to tourism in Lake Bled, you would come to an inexorable conclusion: the best time to visit this natural beauty is Summertime, hence its hot climate would let you take part in specific activities which would be otherwise hindered by a cold weather. As a matter of fact, plunging and swimming in its waters is definitely not recommendable in Autumn or Winter time, as well as practising any kind of water sports by amateurs. Lake Bled is indeed seen by many visitors not only as an unmissable destination for the romantic souls looking for breathtaking panoramas but as the perfect place to combine nice view and love for sports. In Lake Bled you can indeed practice a good number of water sports, as already mentioned, but you can also do trekking and run or bike along its 6 kilometres long perimeter. It’s definitely an intriguing destination for sporty people, as well as for sunchasers who love to soak in a beautiful landscape. 
However, due to my unrepentant lazy nature and my love for comfortable activities, I wasn’t interested in none of these attractions. I simply wanted to enjoy the panorama, let my eyes amaze me with the sight of its beauty and take part in its magic.  If we also bear in mind I’m affectionate to changing seasons and earthly colours, it is not surprising I was so excited to experience Lake Bled in Autumn time.

A hotel facing the lake shore, overtaken by autumnal vegetation.

Because of the limited time my family and I had at our disposal to visit this picturesque lake, none were the activities we could possibly take part in. Actually, our travel plan gave us the opportunity to only spend two hours or less at the lake, making it impossible to do anything else more than eating a typical cake and enjoy the view.
However, there is nothing I properly regret from my short visit: it might be just me, influenced by my travelling priorities and interests, but neither the sports activities or the tourist attractions truly intrigued me. Especially Bled Castle, which sounded like a real scam as soon as I got informed about its offer: for the modest fee of 10 euros per person, you get the unique chance to visit a reconstructed castle which preserves almost nothing of its original form, and uninteresting attractions which mostly comprehend typical souvenir shops. Definitely not cost-effective, in my opinion.

Scenic view of the castle, where the colours definitely played an important role.

The only point of interest I slightly regret not visiting is the island and the famous gothic church of Saint Martin in Bled. It’s certainly not the most beautiful religious building you would ever visit, but its unique location is supposed to make the entire visit -both to the church and island- pretty evocative and suggestive.
In order to take your step into the island, you’ll need to board on the typical Slovenian boat called pletna, the cost of which amounts to 12 euros. If you consider that, to that fee, you will need to add extra 6 euros for the price of the entrance ticket to the church, the minor trip to the island would get unquestionably expensive and not so cost-effective. This way, although I would have liked to sail the lake and reach the island, I don’t regret simply enjoying the view of it from the mainland.


WHAT TO EAT?

In my opinion, for what is worth, I do not consider Slovenia a food paradise. Gastronomically, it is pretty bad relative to other countries, and variety is also extremely limited. The cuisine most certainly does not match my taste buds, although I do not claim it as being bad (definitely edible and possibly even enjoyable, particularly in winter time), it surely isn’t mind-blowingly good nor appetizing, to say the least.
There is however, one silver lining within Lake Bled, that had made me reconsider these thoughts about Slovenian cuisine, and that is the Bled Cream Cake. Being the foodie that I am, and not a legitimate food connoisseur, I find it difficult to describe this delectable dessert without doing it an injustice. The two “wrapping” sheets are very similar to the dough used in mille-feuille cake, the upper white layer is a soft cloud of whipped cream while the bottom one of custard cream. Although I’m not a fan of any dessert made with whipped cream – since I’m not able to appreciate its tasteless taste and heaviness, I absolutely loved this simple yet exquisite piece of cake. The piece of cake which was given to me was considerably large in size, making it difficult to finish even for someone who has got a sweet tooth like I do. However, despite its size, it ultimately left me satisfied without feeling too saturated.

You can find the Bled Cream Cake in pretty much every restaurant and café in the town of Bled and in the lake’s surroundings, as well as in other parts of Slovenia. However, eating this piece of cake at the Park Café of Sava Hotel, sounds like the best choice: it is indeed the place of birth of this yummy dessert, and it definitely is worth a try both for its contribution to the creation of the cake and for the amazing view you can enjoy while being seated at the tables of its terrace. However, because of my travelling companions, I’m not able to describe to you the beautiful experience of indulging in the cake while admiring the picturesque view the cafe offers. My family indeed refused to stop at Park Café for two main reasons: on one side, I was truly the only one to be interested in trying this typical dessert, on the other side the beautiful experience of having the cake with such a view came at a hefty price. Therefore, I found myself eating my slice of this cake at a boulangerie which, apart from selling the Bled Cream Cake, also sold plenty of other cakes and other breakfast options, and it proved to be the best choice for a family with numerous members and varying food demands like mine.

Don’t be deceived by the photo’s perspective: the slice cut for me was HUGE, and it only costs 2 euros!

FINAL THOUGHTS AND STRUGGLE REVELATION

The chance I had to visit the lake in Autumn time, genuinely gave me the opportunity to enjoy the place in its full beauty, and fall completely in love with it. As I have previously mentioned, Lake Bled is visited in droves by tourists and locals alike during the warmer seasons, thus losing its magic and appeal. Fortunately, while I was there, it was a rather serene and tranquil Sunday morning in the month of November, with almost no tourist in sight, no one to compete against for the beautiful panorama Lake Bled is. It was just me and my family, surrounded by fallen leaves and a peace-loving atmosphere. The absence of noisy tourists, clicking shutters of the camera and human activity in general, allowed me to connect with it and feel one with the landscape around me. Moreover, I personally consider the colours that paint the lake in Autumn time as beautiful, where the brown and orangy vegetation perfectly complement the deep colours of the lake, giving off an overall sense of melancholy.

However, if I had to mention that one negative side which made the experience less perfect than it could have been, I would definitely warn you of the struggle related to the quest of even the tiniest parking space. This downside obviously only relates to those who venture towards Lake Bled by car, but since it’s one of the most common options in general, I feel compelled to share my experience: in case you are looking for a tiny little spot in the Lake’s surroundings, lose all hopes because there is none.
All the available parking lots are for hotels or restaurants’ customers, and the chance to find both a free or fee-charging car park is null. You can either park in the centre of town and consequently walk towards the lake or take Surply’s family option into account.
As for the first pick, the solution is only one: leave the car at the car park behind Bled Sports Hall (you’ll just need to type “sports hall” in google maps), which, to my knowledge, is the only available parking lot in town. However, the price is not as suitable: you’ll have to spend 2 euros per hour, but you’ll have to pay for at least four hours for the release of the parking ticket, which makes it incredibly pricey for those who are in Bled for a touch and go. This way, for the “fast travellers”, my personalized suggestion sounds like the best and the only option: it consists in leaving one or two travelling companions at a panoramic spot to take photos, and continue the car ride driving across the lake’s perimeter until you reach the panoramic spot again, to either relieve your friends or pick them up. In case you are lucky enough to visit the lake in a not crowdy day, you can even park the car at the corner of the street and enjoy the panorama until you hear a honk.

Obviously, you must bear in mind that this problem came out at the necessity to enjoy Bled’s panorama in a limited amount of time: having at our disposable only less than 2 days to visit both the lake and the capital city, we couldn’t stop for long. It was a race against time to have breakfast and take a look at the panorama, and every single second couldn’t be wasted. For this reason, parking in the depth of the town didn’t sound like a plausible option both due to its distance and cost (we just needed to stay there for way less than one hour). This way the absence of even one little tiny lot at the lake shore was perceived as a big problem to us, especially as tourist simply looking for spending some time at a bench to enjoy the view.

However, keep in mind that the handfuls of advice I’ve given are for those who are constrained by time, like we were, as we only had a duration of 2 days or less to visit both the capital city of Slovenia and Lake Bled. Thus we couldn’t stop for long, racing against the clock to have breakfast and to absorb the panorama of the lake as we clearly didn’t have the luxury of time: this is why parking in the town and then walking to the lake was not a viable option for us. Therefore, what seemed a small problem for most (not finding a parking space), was truly a huge problem for us.

Ultimately, Lake Bled is still a must-go despite everything I’ve mentioned. Whether you’re an outdoor-sports enthusiast or a romantic soul looking for breathtaking landscapes, Lake Bled with its uncontested beauty and countless fun outdoor activities will definitely satisfy even the most demanding tourist. You want proof? It’s in the pudding Bled Cream Cake! He he 😜

I’m definitely not able to pose, nor a good model. However, I’d like to point fingers to my photographer (i.e. my younger sister) which is unquestionably not able to capture both the beauty of the lake and of the human subject… Such a pity.

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