Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Grand Finale: Lake Bled

Church on an island in the middle of Lake Bled
The grand finale of this trip is a visit to Lake Bled. This is the one place I visited on my first trip that I absolutely was certain that I needed to see again.

I promised the Sister and B-I-L that we would do a segway tour of Lake Bled. The segway tours are organized through an agency named 3glav Adventures (named after the tallest mountain in Slovenia, nearby Triglav). 3glav was supposed to be closed today. But we got there when someone was there. And it was supposed to be an off-day for the segway tour guide Jakob. But he was willing to lead a tour that would just be the three of us. We were to meet Jakob back at the 3glav offices at 3:00 p.m., which gave us some time to walk around the Lake, visit the Castle, and eat a cream cake.

Bled Lake is amazingly beautiful.

At the rowing area of Bled Lake
Another view of the church on the island in the middle of the Lake
The church on the island is the classic wedding spot in Slovenia. Grooms are supposed to carry their brides up the 99 steps from the shore to the church as part of the Lake Bled wedding tradition. This, I would guess, would put a premium on finding and marrying a small, Slovenian bride.

Admiring the church through the woods 
But look out for horse-drawn carriages on the trail
People do swim in Lake Bled, which I would not recommend due to the ice cold water. Boating would seem to be more fun.

Swimmer ready to dive into the icy cold Alpine water 
Boaters on the Lake
Pletna boats bound for the island and a lone rowboater in training
Lake Bled is an alpine lake at the foot of the Julian Alps. The water is crystal clear. Boats are either powered by electricity or rowing. It is guarded by a "castle," which again, is dramatically situated but is actually more of a fort than a castle per se,

Castle from across the Lake
Castle view 
Same rower, only with a church view
Lots of ducks at Lake Bled
And nasty mean swans
For reasons not entirely clear to me, we decided to make the 15-minute walk straight up hill to the castle at the top of a cliff.

The smooth paved part of the pathway to the Castle, before it's all stairs
 We got to the top.
Castle door
I opted not to pay the nine euros to enter. The fee is basically for the viewpoint, since there was never a royal family in residence at this castle. We were told of an alternative viewing point where we could get just as nice of a view. But when I saw that the trail from the castle gate was high up, and learned that is was without a guardrail, and given how hot and tired and sweaty I was from the 15-minute climb, the sitting bench beckoned.

So we walked down to tour lovely Church of Sv. Martin on the lake shore, right near the castle. I am abbreviating the word "Saint" the Croatian and Slovenian way, "Sv.," for the extra added pretentiousness.

Church of Sv. Martin on the shores of Lake Bled
This is NOT the church on the island that you saw in all of the previous photographs. So Bled has one Catholic church inside the Lake and one outside.

Let's have a look inside, shall we?

Door to Sv. Martin 
Chandelier over the sanctuary
Church art
Very interesting Last Supper painting. It's easy to tell which one is Judas.
(Clue: He's the one with devil horns and no halo.)
View of the church organ above the entryway
Let's have one more look at Saint Martin, this time with some Lake effect:

Sv. Martin on the shores of Lake Bled
After all that touring, we had time to snack on the food that Lake Bled is most famous for, all over Slovenia:

The traditional Slovenian Cream Cake. It's like a Napoleon, but not as sweet. It is a layer of phyllo dough, with whipped cream underneath, then a vanilla custard cream base. Only a teeny tiny little bit of gluten in the ultra-thin layer of phyllo dough. So it's OK.

And I washed it down with a Union Radler:

Union Radler
"Radler" is the German word for bicyclist. It's like a shandy in the States. This particular radler is brewed at a small brewery in Ljubljana and is mixed with grapefruit. And it works. Who'd a thunk it? The beer and grapefruit combination goes together perfectly. It takes just like Squirt. Only kickier.

Whoops. Look at the time. It's almost 3:00 p.m.  Time to meet the Segway tour guy.

1 comment:

  1. I was married here and it is a fantastic wedding reception venue. The food, service and mostly the staff were truly amazing. Despite the pouring rain storm, constant emails requesting changes, and nervous energy, these guys delivered the most enchanting night.