With so many places to explore in Europe you would think it is crazy that within the space of a calendar year we were treading over the same ground. However, if you believe that, you have obviously never stepped foot in Slovenia. Lauren’s mum Susan was yet to encounter this little natural gem and we were both keen to revisit.
It is all about the lakes in this region – Bohinjsko Jezero and Bled. It would be fair to say that Susan was chomping at the bit to see this part of the world for her own eyes as it has been on her radar since the very first Instagram we posted around a year ago.
Bled is well known for its small island in the middle; an inviting medieval turret perched on a leafy mound and only accessible via row boat. As time was running out and our stop for the night (Bohinj) was calling our name, Susan opted for a rich verbal description of the island and we set off to walk a section of the lake on foot. Bled was just a stop off on the way to the main course – Bohinj. This is a special special part of the world. If Bled and Bohinj are lake cousins, then Bohinj is the better looking one. We couldn’t wait to get there. We said farewell to Bled with some silly photos and set off. A short, yet beautiful drive was ahead of us. For both Lauren and I, it was like a nourishing balm to be amongst the beauty of the Slovenian wilderness. For Susan, each bend and each small village we passed through brought another finger-pointing moment, shouts of glee and gawking at the beauty our eyes were drinking in. The Slovenian people are brilliant – anyone read this, a simple message (or perhaps a command – go there!)
I remembering driving in to Bohinj and seeing the small villages with their hay drying over the barn rails and farmers out busily working before the last skerrick of sun would slip behind the towering mountains. Ukanc is a small village of a dozen or so houses that we chose as our base. We were keen to go for a mountain hike so we checked in, dumped off our stuff, geared up, chucked in the trail mix and we headed mountain bound.
We were in Triglav country. Lake Bohinj is surrounded by the most majestic mountain range that forms the National Park with self-titled Triglav mountain being the centrepiece. This is some of the most beautiful hiking territory that we have found to date and we were keen to set off into the mountains. Now it must be noted that at ground level before we set out for our mountain trail, the temperature was a solid 18 degrees. As we climbed up the degrees slipped down. As we climbed up the grass started to turn into patches of white – snow. Our hasty preparation and zeal to hit the mountains was our downfall. We made it 90% of the way up to the summit of Prisivec before our shoes were filled with snow and the trail-blazes were difficult to spot. With the voice of Bear Grylls in our heads – ‘light is fading quickly, time to set up camp’ – we made a ‘slippy’ decent back down and took in the fading light over the mountain range.
As a collective of weary hikers we hit the hay for the night and recharged our bodies for another day of exploration. Day two in Bohinj brought some highlights. There is a well-known bronze statue of a mighty deer stag that sits proudly, gallantly on a jagged rock over-looking the lake. The first time Lauren and I came to this lake we were captured by this wonderful statue. However, this time with Susan it was capturing for a whole other reason. The sheer delight we took from jumping up on this statue and naming it was a ‘classic’ moment. Watch the video and hopefully you can capture the moment that we all shared together.
We ended back in Ukanc and set up shop for the afternoon near the lake. There aren’t many places in the world that you can pay 1Euro for a beer (Lasko) and have it chilled by alpine snow melt in under 5minutes. The scenery in Ukanc is magnetic. You can’t look away. Sitting by the river for the dwindling afternoon sun-show over the lake will stay with us all for many many years. Majestic and tranquil. A wonderful pre-cursor to our next stop – The Soca River – A third river cousin has entered the picture who again is even better looking than the other two.