Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bled, Slovenia: Come to the Island of Bled

It is wet and gloomy today in Bled. I guess by the standards of most places, it would be considered a gentle, steady rain. But I don't live in "most places." I live in Las Vegas, Nevada USA, thank you very much. And this is a gully-washer. The rain is relentless. Still, I've got the whole day in Bled, so nevertheless I follow through on one part of my plan for the day: visiting the small island in the middle of Lake Bled, which contains a beautiful, ornate medieval/baroque church. (I'm just using the word "baroque" to sound sophisticated. Truth be told, I'm putting on airs. I have no more idea of what is meant by the word "baroque" than I know how to speak all seven dialects of Slovenian.)

I did find a pletna boat -- which is a repetitive redundancy -- sort of like saying "tuna fish" or "turkey bird" -- with a driver. Young kid driver -- now that I'm 50 a "young kid" is pretty d*mn old -- he was probably in his early 30s since he spent a year of college in New Jersey in 2001. Waiting in the boat was nice given that (a) it was pouring rain, and (b) his boat had a solid roof. So I didn't really mind waiting.

The trip was quick. It was no fun walking around outdoors in the pouring rain, trying to snap pictures. But snap I did. Here are some photos from my trip to the Island of Bled:

Pletna boats on the shore. During the high season, the lake is lousy with pletna. Today, my driver waited about 30, 45 minutes waiting for another passenger. Smart move on his part, as just before he was ready to motor, a large family joined the trip. Yes, I said "motor." I thought no motor boats were allowed on Bled, but that is not true. Electric motors are OK. Just not fossil fuel. Bled Castle is the building towering high above Lake Bled.

The long flight of stairs up from the boat landing to the church on the island in the middle of the lake.

The pletna boat returning to shore after dropping off me and a family from somewhere I cannot identify from the language they are speaking. Hopefully there will be another boat to take us back to shore. It's a long way to swim. Although, given the pouring rain, I can't get any more wet.

The church of the Island of Bled, in the middle of Lake Bled. Apparently it is a very popular wedding site for Slovenian couples, because of the natural beauty of the physical setting, when it's not pouring rain.

And along comes Mary. This statue of Mary is a landing down the hill from the church, about three-quarters of the away up the hill from the boat landing. Sweet as the punch.

The swans of Bled are quite nasty. Beautiful, but nasty. Just like the popular chick in every high school-based movie or sitcom. Apparently, according to my boat driver, there are two swan couples on Lake Bled. They are very territorial. Especially the one on the west side -- island side -- of the lake. The male has been known to attack swimmers who he thinks are "invading" his territory. He does back off when he sees a full size adult. It's got nothing to do with the fact, as per this picture, that his wife is preggers.

The vestibule area of the church. It is covered. So I was dry when I snapped this picture. I don't know why there is all this religious statuary outside the church, as if they were waiting to be let inside.

Facing the altar of the church. They said I could take flash pictures. I asked first.

The church on the Island of Bled was decorated as per your standard issue medieval church. In other words, awesomely ornate. The Island of Bled church is most famous for its Virgin Mary, who looks not Semitic, but, if I recall my facts correctly and I had wine with dinner so I may not, the various Mary renderings were made to resemble an Austrian empress with whom there was a pressing need to curry favor. She does look a bit Austrian here, but just a bit, although certainly not a native speaker of Aramaic.

On the island, on the church grounds, was an exhibit building. The dolls in native costumes of the various EU countries was vaguely interesting, except for the fact that for about 100 years now, no one in Italy, or the UK, or Estonia, or Slovenia has dressed in "native costume" -- except maybe for a tourist-bait "folk festival." Much much more interesting were the displays of different renderings of the nativity scene in various media. My favorite was this terra cotta crèche.

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