Bled

One of the most well-known towns in Slovenia (a relative measure, for sure), Bled is a lively community whose self-named lake sits at the center of it all. We decided to strike out early from Triglav National Park and take a wander around neighboring Lake Bled before heading back to Ljubljana.

As we drew closer to the town, the popularity of the place began to make itself known. Groups of people lined the sidewalks, queues of cars waited at intersections, and highly-priced parking signs decorated any lot with more than a few spaces. I began to have reservations, as this seemed just like the kind of village we tended to avoid (see also: Banff (township), Canada). But, we found a relatively cheap parking lot and made our way down to the lake.

Any concerns I had about the visit vanished completely as the first views of the lake came into sight. Lake Bled is truly gorgeous, with crystal-clear, blue-green waters giving way to the dramatic backdrop of Bled Castle, perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the lake. A charming medieval church (Church of the Assumption of Mary) floats on Bled Island in the center of the lake, with its “lucky” bell – which visitors can ring to have a wish granted – tolling endlessly throughout the day. Small wooden boats ferry passengers out to the island, while friendly swans investigate the parade of people walking around the lake, hoping for a snack. Despite the popularity of the place, the path rarely felt overly crowded, with groups gravitating towards the public swimming areas, or sticking closer to the restaurants on the eastern shores. We must have paused to take photos a hundred times as we walked, each view of the castle and church inviting a new shot.

As lunch neared, we stopped to try the famed Bled cream cake, kremna rezina, a delicious dessert consisting of vanilla cream, whipped cream, flaky pastry dough, and a dusting of powdered sugar. Bled’s Hotel Park claims to have the original, a treat they’ve been perfecting and serving since the 1950s. It turned out to be quite delicious, which, I suppose, shouldn’t be surprising considering the popularity of the café serving it, and the number of slices that they were throwing onto tables as fast as possible. The experience certainly wasn’t hurt by the amazing views, either.

After lunch, we took a short walk up Osojnica Hill to get an even better view of the lake. Though the path is a little rough – and in some places essentially nonexistent – the views from the top are simply amazing and well worth the short-but-steep walk. The blue lake sparkled in the afternoon light, the castle and church highlighted by the rich backdrop of the Slovenian Alps and the piles of fluffy white clouds overhead.

With the day drawing to a close, we had time for a quick swim in the clear waters before moving on. Though we had tested the waters at the eastern edge, the swimming area on the western side was decidedly chilly, so we kept our swim to a short, refreshing dip before bidding farewell to the beautiful lake.

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