I thought it was about time that I wrote this post, as it has now unbelievably been a month since we travelled to Bled in January. I can’t believe the time has gone so quickly! These ‘This is…’ posts are going to be designed to cover both an overview of my trip, plus a travel guide-type element for any of you thinking about or planning on visiting. Over the next couple of months – before I jet off to Barcelona – I’m hoping to get up some similar posts about places I’ve visited previously. Today, however, we are of course concerning ourselves with Slovenia and, more specifically, Lake Bled.
Despite the very early start, I’m a big fan of arriving early in the day to new places. It gives you a chance to get your bearings, find things easier, and get more acquainted with the area you’re staying in before it gets dark. We decided to rent a car for the week that we were in Slovenia, which turned out to be a great idea. It was relatively cheap, and you only have to be over 20 to rent. The car we were allocated was really nice, more so than either of our normal cars! Although driving on the opposite side of the road takes a bit of getting used to, we did pretty well. It was really the best option for getting about, especially the days we went skiing as we didn’t have to organise ourselves around a bus schedule. On another day when there wasn’t enough snow to ski, we were also able to drive to Ljubljana and do some shopping, which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. I’d definitely recommend renting a car – just make sure you’ve got Google Maps on your phone and get up routes as and when you’ve got wifi!
We stayed at the Hotel Kompas in Bled, which was really lovely. It’s one of the nicer hotels actually within the town, and we even got upgraded to a lake view room. They have great spa facilities, including an amazing pool and jacuzzi in a huge conservatory space. One of the days when we didn’t ski, we went and sat in the jacuzzi mid-morning and you could see all the way out over the lake. The hotel was close to everything in Bled, and had convenient free parking.
Bled itself is a slightly strange place. The scenery and nature is beautiful. The lake, the castle, the mountains in the near distance are all fantastic. There are some areas of the town, slightly off from the lake, which are really quaint and pretty. Log cabins, pine trees, snow-caped mountains, it looks picture perfect. However, other parts of the town aren’t so pretty. There’s more modern areas, but they’re not new, and so some places look quite scruffy and run down. It doesn’t detract from the charm of the scenery, but it certainly takes the sheen off an otherwise gorgeous place. I imagine that in the summer, this is far less obvious when everywhere is bustling and the sun is shining, but when the skies are grey it makes everything else look that bit more dull.
Bled is in an excellent position in terms of skiing, having a small slope itself and being around half an hour’s drive from two other major ski resorts. As I mentioned before, it was great having a car so that we didn’t have to get a bus whenever we wanted to go skiing. The ski resorts in Slovenia aren’t the best for getting out artificial snow – because there are so few of them, and they’re so small. This meant that with the rain at the start of our holiday we weren’t able to ski as much as we’d have liked, but we did find plenty of other stuff to do. In other words, not the best place to go if the weather is uncertain. And yet, by the end of week, with the weather colder and the artificial snow cracked out, we had some fabulous days which were sunny if very very cold!
Another aspect I’d like to mention is the food. Matt and I love our food when we’re on holiday, and we love finding interesting, great quality, traditional places to eat. In this sense, Bled was not for us. I’m sure that in the summer there are a lot more options available, but unfortunately we only managed to find two good places to eat, which we then ended up eating in twice. They don’t do Italian food terribly well, and a lot of places seem to just do hot dogs and chips (not that that’s always a bad thing). The places that we found that were okay were quite traditional places, and the staff actually acted like they wanted you there! Many, although by no means all, salespeople and waiting staff weren’t the friendliest. However, when you find a great place to eat with friendly staff, it really makes a difference. The two places we found were Gostilna Union and Vila Peglez’n, both extremely close to the centre of town. I will also mention that one thing almost everywhere does well is hot cocoa… You can see above how many I had!
Slovenia as a whole is quite a sparse place in terms of tourist spots. Ljubliana, the capital, is not the most bustling city in Europe. Bled, although beautiful in the summer, has only skiing as it’s main draw in the winter, which isn’t assured. Other ski resorts round the country are exactly the same. We’ve also been to a town called Lasko, which is famous for its beer – we stayed for one night whilst interrailing, and although we enjoyed it immensely, we would not have wanted to stay for much longer.
Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Bled. If you are a foodie, give it a miss, and I wouldn’t recommend going without some mode of transport, but for those after skiing, scenery, or sailing (well, rowing), it’s definitely worth a visit.