(This is the ninth post of our Croatia-Budapest Trip, June-July 2014.)
Monday, June 23
We woke up in Buzet and saw this. . . . . . so thought we ought to again advance our plans by a day and head to Lake Bled that day, instead of exploring the southern part of Slovenia, like we’d wanted to.
After passing through passport control, we stopped at the very first gas station we saw to buy our Slovenian Freeway Pass, having been warned by several to do so. (scene is out the backside of the gas station.) In fact our innkeeper in Plitvice said that there would be two fines if we didn’t have it and got caught: one from the Slovenian authorities, of roughly 150 euros (like $225) and then the rental car company would charge us because of the hassle of finding us and get their money from someone in the States. I had also read about it in two guide books, so there was no question about whether or not we would have a pass on our window. Dave came out from the teensy place, affixed the sticker (15 euro, about 22 bucks) and we kept driving.
About two exits after we got on the freeway with our spiffy new freeway pass, we left to go “wandering” our way through the countryside, on the way to Predjama Castle, andfound we were driving on the Mast Road, a farm-to-market road through the countryside with some historical significance. We know this because half the sign was in English!
And in Landol, this little chapel is dedicated to someone named “St. Jost,” but again, was closed.
But next door was this building, which apparently served as a toll house on the road.
Right around this corner was a small accident, a fender-bender, but the people involved had put out the glowing orange triangles signs on the road and they all had donned orange highway safety-type vests. That would explain the package I saw in the trunk of our rental car, of which the car agency said nothing. For the record, I had asked them about the Slovenian freeway sticker too, and again, the two twenty-somethings that ran the place kind of shrugged their shoulders: “eh?”
We parked and walked about ten paces and here it was–just like all the guidebooks said: an old castle tucked into a mountain. The guidebooks also said the inside was “forgettable” so we didn’t pay to go in. The outside is pretty striking, though.
We turned left at Jesus and headed toward the motorway/freeway.
We’ve got to get our money’s worth out of this pricey car sticker and were ready to get to Lake Bled, hoping to arrive before any storm.
They do have some houses on the shore of Lake Bled. Here’s one, with a beautifully painted upper story.
And another, with sort of a hunting lodge flavor.
The hunting lodge house comes complete with a (cute) stuffed animal.
In the middle of Lake Bled is this small island. It seemed like we stopped to take a picture of this about every five feet. Soon it got to be a joke, trying to frame it with bits of trees and leaves, making a vignette. This is one of about 25 that we shot.
At the far end of the lake the pavement widened and we found the rowing club (with lots of sculling shells laying out on the lawn). There was also a place to go swimming, but you had to pay to get in. We kept walking.
The lake is a clear beautiful aqua blue, and I’m told on many days the surface is as smooth as glass. A storm was coming in, so we had had a lot of breezes and a ruffled surface. We visited, relaxed and soon pulled our feet out of the water and put our shoes back on.
The island from the front. There’s a tale that if you can ring the bell three times, gold coins will fall out of your hair. No, that’s not quite right. If you can ring the bell, all your children will be rich. Hmmm. Maybe if you ring the bell you’ll have True Love? Good Fortune? That you are a gullible tourist? (Pick one.) So it would be quiet on the lake for a while, then a boat of tourists would arrive and we then hear the clanging of the church bell. You have to pay for the pleasure of getting your good fortune, so someone is doing okay, judging from the amount of bell-tolling we heard.
We’d heard that Tito, the leader of Yugoslavia (when there was a Yugoslavia) had a summer house on the lake which had been turned into a hotel and conference center. Our guidebook gave us the particulars and we walked up the grand set of stairs from the path to Villa Bled.
We found our way to this conference room (in panoramic view, here) with a mural from the Communist era, where all the workers looked happy (and like they worked out a lot at the local gym), and the peasants were singing songs along with the soldiers, who were also — in some places — holding hands with each other. Solidarity, indeed.
View from Tito’s patio.
You can’t go to Lake Bled without have a piece of their cream cake. Tired after three hours of walking (we were taking the scenic pace), we plopped down on the patio of a hotel, and ordered one piece and two forks.
“Everyone does that,” said the waiter. “And then they order another piece.”
We did too.
Next up: Arriving in Ljubljana