From Budapest, I took a BlaBlaCar to the sleepy city of Ljubljana. I was on my way to Italy and wanted to see the infamous Lake Bled Slovenia. Of course, my adventure wouldn't be mine without a few interesting bumps in the road.
My ride share was in a small European car, with five passengers. I was in the back with two older gentlemen. Before getting in the car, I knew that my female instinct was telling me to be considerate of the two men and take the middle seat. I thought about this and decided- Yeah, right! If I'm going to be stuck in this car for four and a half hours, I was going to be as comfortable as possible. So, I took the window. Survival of the fittest!
The man that unfortunately got stuck in the middle seat, was also a talker. I found out he was from Pakistan and living in Europe. Some memorable quotes include:
"If we drop you off in the mountain, with one goat and one chicken, you could survive, Colleen."
"When we live in the mountain together Colleen, we will have 7 babies."
"Colleen I promise you, I am very fertile and will bring many sons."
After awhile, I realized acting annoyed or completely ignoring him wasn't going to work. So, I pretended to fall asleep. Fortunately, the third passenger in the back didn't speak English.
Arrival in Ljubljana
We arrived in Ljubljana without a hitch, just a very long car ride. Slovenia's history has had many rulers, from the Celtic tribes to the Romans, to the Slavs, to the French, Hungarian, and Germans, but they continue to thrive as a small city.
World War I left Ljubljana unscathed, but World War II wasn't as kind. They were occupied by fascist regime and became part of Yugoslavia, which has been termed the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship. The city was surrounded by barbed wire and completely isolated, kind of like an urban concentration camp.
Despite the dark history, Ljubljana had wonderful cafes nestled along the river. It was just my luck that I had arrived in time for the city market. It seemed like the entire downtown area was filled with different vendors selling food, crafts, and things I couldn't pronounce. With good weather you can window shop, people watch, listen to live music, and enjoy the beautiful view of Ljubljana castle.
Built in the 15th century, this castle sits on the highest hill in the city. You can choose to hike up (it's not bad), or take the funicular, a little train that takes you up the hillside. I was feeling like I needed some me time and brought a picnic with some wine and snacks to enjoy from the castle hill at sunset. I had to find an area that didn't have teenagers making out, but just my luck, the castle had many sides.
One of the main reasons I went to Slovenia, was to see the post-card perfect Lake Bled. I woke up extra early one morning to make the bus to Bled from Ljubljana. Bled was once a Slavic settlement in the Julian Alps. People would come from all parts of Eastern Europe to seek the benefits of the "magical" waters, which supposedly have healing powers. Another big draw is the pilgrimage to the church on the island.
My first stop was to hike up to Bled Castle. A couple paths were washed out with rain, but a few locals saw the bewildered, tourist look on my face and pointed me in the right direction. Bled Castle is a on a very steep hill. I somehow got behind a bus full of Asian tourist who were trying to make the stone path in flip flops. I managed to help a few without being taken down with them.
The castle was a maze of history and artifacts. I personally think the entry ticket pays in full with the gorgeous views you get from the cliff side.
You can walk completely around the lake in just a few hours. It's difficult not to stop and take a new photo from every angle. While you're hiking, you can join the vacationers and the adventurists in kayaking, canoeing, cycling, or sunbathing on the beach.
This secluded and independent trip was just what I needed. Lake Bled, Slovenia was everything I had hoped for and more! After a crazy week in Budapest and my upcoming tour of Northern Italy with my mom and aunt, I knew I needed a little rest and relaxation before the fun started up again. Slovenia is on my list to return, because I've heard rumors of even more beautiful sites and hiking trails that are off the beaten tourist path.