Bled, funny name for a place. Funny name or not, it was our next stop as we ventured through Slovenia. Bled was to be our last taste of Slovenia before we crossed its boundaries and ventured into Austria.
The two hour drive through the incredible countryside to get to Bled was filled with rare viewings of small towns that each had their own character and appeal. None of them were on any tourist route or have ever been reviewed by Lonely Planet, but provided us with the special moments that you are only likely to see on a MILK card or a coffee table book. We saw the locals harvesting their fields, hay stacks that would rival some small skyscrapers – and all done using traditional methods. The old tractors, the ancient rickety barns and the wild-flowers covering the rolling hills in a beautiful blanket of colour were all unique in their own way. We hoped that Bled itself would provide some equally beautiful moments as on the drive to get there. Scattered amongst this beautiful countryside were placards, banners and posters for one key thing that defined Bled; the cream cake. It was something that we later divulged in and it certainly lived up to its famous reputation. More about the cream cake later.
Like so many of the places we have stayed thus far, this was also within someone’s home and we certainly met our most hospitable host yet. Her name was Andrea and she was almost aggressive in her hospitality. We arrived and within moments we were seated around a table with a map of the city getting all the local hints and tricks. I do mean ALL. It was very thorough indeed. Thanks Andrea!
Loaded with more information than our Frommer’s guide, the rest of our first day in Bled was filled with exploring and getting a feel for what the locals are all into. We visited the local bakeries and saw the much advertised cream cakes, however at this point we restrained and thought we would wait for the next day as not to spoil our dinner. I must at this point make a shameful confession that although there were many local delicacies on offer, our bodies couldn’t take another ‘seafood dish’ and we opted for the local Chinese place!! Haha. I have to admit, although not Slovenian at all, it was a refreshing change. Chicken and cashew nuts! Ahhh, we miss the quasi Chinese-Australian cuisine. So much variety in Aus!
The next day we had our sights set on hiring a row boat and making our own way out to the Island with the famous church planted on the middle of it. There was however another option that could have been taken, which was to be taken out on a traditional boat with a guide – but we thought better of it as we felt up for the challenge of mastering the rowing technique ourselves. So, the row boat was sourced, hired and off we set. I must say that my rowing technique was a little shaky for the first minute but after that I feel like I could have represented Australia in the upcoming London Olympics. You have never seen such style. Lauren enjoyed being rowed out without having to lift a finger. The island was quite magical, however it was swamped by tourists, which we were included. Apparently, as local legend has it, it is suggested that if you ring the bell in the clock tower on the island it will guarantee you good luck for years. For us it was just a silly tourist attraction that it seemed Asian tourists couldn’t get enough of. We did not go and ring the bell tower. We just wished good luck upon ourselves and did a quick tour of the island. We did encounter a special moment whereby we saw a swan go up against a Labrador. Not much needs to be said except that the swan did a more than adequate job of defendeding itself against the dog. The swan was the absolute unanimous winner! We kept our distance from the swans from that point onwards.
So the time had come, once we were back on dry land to try the most advertised delight in the town; the cream cake. There were many a vendor trying to flog off their fake version of the cake but little did they know that our host, Andrea, had given us the hottest tip in town of where to buy the cream cake where they still used the traditional methods and recipe. It was delicious. After finishing it we were most tempted to return and go back for another. Now, so that all of you don’t go wild with your imagination I will give a short description of it for you, as it was regrettably not captured on camera. Picture a vanilla slice and double the thickness of the base crust and also add a thick layer of fresh cream above the vanilla goodness. Really it is a vanilla slice made with the greatest of care that is steeped in history. Great combination! Well done Bled!
Thanks to our hostess with the mostest, we also checked out Vintgar gorge. It was a series of wooden bridges that cris-crossed over the white-water falls which eventuated in a huge slap (waterfall) called Pod Slap at the end. It was a great little couple of hour hike through this untouched wilderness which at points rivaled moments of Plitvice Lakes (view previous blog if you haven’t read yet). Well, thank you Bled for your great moments and your delicious cream cakes. Our next move was to cross the Slovenian boarder and arrive for a big bike-ride in Oberdrauburg, Austria; the land of the schnitzel.