It’s bleeding hot, one of the hottest summers in Europe for some time. Every day is over 30 degrees and today is no different. The only positive I can find is that it’s not overly humid, which would explain the constant dryness in our throats and longing for liquids.
Our goal today is Bled or, more specifically, Lake Bled; the one of a million postcards that emanate from Slovenia and, why not? Here is a body of water with three things going for it, two churches and a castle. This puts it a couple of rungs above any ordinary lake though it has to be said there’s a temptation to take a dip in the water, one of the reasons we brought our swimmers. The ones that are in our luggage that still hasn’t turned up that is.
We head off around the lake, not sure how far it is or how far we’ll go, but the walk is pleasant, there is no gradient and there’s lots of shade to be had. We’d already enquired as to how much it would be to tour in the grand manner of horse and carriage but decide the 50 euros is a tad more than we’re prepared to part with.
The 1000 year old castle is perched precariously atop a dramatic 130 metre cliff and constantly diverts the eye while the bells from the Church of Mary the Queen, that sits delightfully on an island, reverberate continually and divert the ear. It once had a temple to the pagan goddess of love, Ziva, but that was built over in 1465 when the tower was built and, in the 17th century it attained its present baroque form. There are 99 steps leading up to it and grooms are expected to carry the bride up every one of them should they choose to get married here.
With every 100 metres the view is different, the alignment of things giving varying perspectives of the same highlights. As we meander further a main road is encountered and we pause a third of the way around for morning tea.
There are many ways to enjoy this venue. There is the pletna, a traditional boat dating back to the 16th C which is propelled by two vertical oars in gondolier manner but it’s about twice as wide and flat bottomed. You can also hire rowboats, paddle boards, canoes and kayaks, all of which are out on the surface as we get moving again. We’re both amused by a young lad with his dog on a paddle board. The dog starts barking and won’t stop so he is dispatched overboard and the boy paddles away. This seems to work and the dog is quiet when he’s retrieved about seven minutes later. By this time we’ve subconsciously decided that we’re probably going to walk all the way around, though we have no idea how far it actually is.
Now we move into a forested area where there’s shade aplenty and we come across a swimmer or two. By the time we reach the far end there are more swimmers and then there’s a tiny village where there’s a hundred in the water and just as many sunbathing on the grass. There’s also no end to the number of walkers and cyclists, seemingly representing half the countries on earth.
By the time we sit down for lunch on a low balcony in soothing shade at the end of the hike, we’ve worked out that it was 6 kms all the way round and well worth the effort, especially when we get served up one of the best meals we’ve had on the trip and Lorraine tries a special type of spritz full of mouth watering flavours. Some days are diamonds.