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Slovenian lakes

❤️

Arrival

The Lesce-Bled train station has two quays and you go to the second quay by walking over the first one, which is something I hadn’t seen in a decade and a half. I love it.

The walk to the hostel is short, if you don’t get lost. My walk to the hostel includes a church, a graveyard, and a sausage shop which is not a butcher’s, just a sausage shop. My knee is furious.

I’m tired and the pollen has been horrible and my knee hurts, so I spend the evening in bed, doing nothing, until I fall asleep several hours later.

Stats

  • Steps: 17 608
  • Train: 57 minutes (993km in total)

Lake Bled Bohinj

When I wake up, it’s 12 degrees outside and there’s a light drizzle, because of course the second I leave the city I get terrible weather.

When I go downstairs, which takes a moment because knee, I have a conversation with the hostel employee who recommends I go to Bohinj today for the full day and to Bled tomorrow for a shorter time, with my train to Zagreb being at 5pm.

Not only do I appreciate the advice in general, I’m also really excited to put Bohinj back on the itinerary as I had been really sad to miss it! I do remember, though, that the reason I removed it in the first place was the knee, so I can only hope it will agree with my newfound plan.

In order to keep a good relationship between us, I ignore all the extremely enticing mountain hikes and opt for walking around the lake. It’s a 12km walk, which can be stopped mid-way by coming back via bus or boat if necessary.

From the moment I arrive, it’s very obvious that I’ll have a wonderful time: the lake is quiet and gorgeous, and even though the weather isn’t great, it’s also not stopping me from enjoying my adventure.

Lake Bohinj viewed from the coast on a very cloudy day.

I quickly falter, though. My knee is not happy, and my bottle of water does not hold for a long time – and there’s nowhere to refill it on this hiking trail.

The view is always worth it, though.

A rocky path on the edge of the lake, with mountains in the background.

At the end of the lake, a while later, a creepy tree statue awaits me. My video game knowledge tells me that it’s going to greet me and congratulate me for completing my quest. It doesn’t. My knee hurts. I want to eat and go home, and forget about the second half of the hike.

A tree carved in the shape of a face.

But first, another surprise – this absolutely gorgeous bridge above the greenest and purest water I’ve ever seen. It’s beautiful, and I stop there for a moment to take in the sights.

A small river with rocks and trees. The water is extremely green and very transparent.

All the restaurants are closed during the off-season, until I finally get to a camping with an outdoor pizzeria. I am freezing and vaguely damp and would have loved to be protected from the wind, but that will do – and the pizza is good.

A roof with benches and picnic tables underneath.

I leave the place around 2.15pm, with a heavy heart. The food was great, the music is amazing, the place is beautiful and peaceful… but it’s just too cold, so I fight the knee (he’d have liked to stay put for another hour or two and I can’t blame him), and I get up.

There is no boat in the off-season. There is one bus. It runs about five times a day. I can barely walk and I’m freezing, but I’m also terribly bored, and there’s a cable car somewhere above me, and y’all know me: I see mountain, I go up mountain.

A lake, a mountain and a forest all viewed from above, with funicular cables visible.

Absolutely worth it, even if it means staying upstairs, by 2 degrees (I am still wearing shorts.), in an abandoned ski station, for 45 minutes. I’m glad I never go anywhere without a good book!

One thing I wish I had is the tripod and remote photo controller that my mom gave me a few years ago. It’s in my room and it seems that every single time I go somewhere cool, I forget to bring it. I’ll do better on my next trip. Maybe. To be fair, a selfie of me being cold and standing in the snow probably wouldn’t have made it to this post.

A ski resort sign showing that it's 2 degrees outside, but that there isn't much snow left.

2°C. Oops.

Finally, it’s time to come back down, and the view is, once again, incredible. Absolutely worth it, even though I was in the worst possible conditions to enjoy my trip to Bohinj!

Lake Bohinj and its surrouding mountains and forests viewed from the Vogel ski station above.

On the bus, I make a promise to myself that I will talk about the Slovene radio when I’m writing this blog post. So here goes: Slovene radio seems to be a mix of absolute bangers from when I was 15 years old and questionable covers of 1980s classics. It’s amazing and I want to listen to it for the rest of my life.

Stats

  • Steps: 15 493
  • Cable car: 8’40
  • Bus: slightly under 2h, around 70km total

Lake Bled (for real)

Walking to the breakfast room, from my bedroom, is a chore. My knee has decided that I will have a bad day. Joke’s on you, knee, I do not listen to my body. Hah!

As I start the day, I am suddenly convinced that I need to redo this entire series in French and give up the English. I mean, I talk so much about making resources and stories available in French and not playing into the English language hegemony and then I make my entire month of travel English-only, with travel tips all English speakers can find elsewhere, when my main readers are family members who have to look up every other word?! I am truly disappointed in myself.

But it’s sunny so I don’t think about it too much.

Bled is beautiful, but in a very « I know I’m good » way. It feels like a touristic spot and doesn’t have the humility and softness I was talking about in my Ljubljana blog post. I’m disappointed – where’s the nature? Why is the hiking trail just a road with a « no cars » sign?

Frustrated, I decide to follow a small hiking trail on the side. I immediately get lost, but I eventually find a pretty village.

Everything was worth it, as usual.

A beautiful pale green house at the entrance of a village.

I then trace back my steps towards the lake and promise to myself and my knee that I will not try to do extra hiking again.

While walking, I see the Olympics rowing club of Bled, with their huge poster of Olympic medalists. I think again about what Sara told me about Slovenians being proud of their relationship to sport, and really, they should! They’re a tiny country that seems to really rake in medals and that has the most beautiful settings for sports – hiking, cycling, rowing or skiing, it’s all there.

I fight my own urge to pick up rowing.

Bled island, a tiny island with a church on it, and an orange-roofed gondola on Lake Bled.

There are some hiking trails, but these nicer routes are very steep so I force myself to ignore them. I’m heartbroken.

Bled castle and church viewed from the shore of Lake Bled on an extremely sunny day.

The weather is now absolutely perfect, and I bask in the spring sun.

I think one memorable thing about Slovenian lakes, or my experience of them specifically, is that they are vaguely familiar to me, as an Alps person. Of course, they’re new and really beautiful and exciting, but they also make me want to take more time to explore and appreciate beautiful places close to where I live.

When I come back, after six months of nursing my knee back to a decent shape, probably, I really would like to hike and cycle on a very regular basis and learn to belong in the mountains close by. And if this trip is showing me one thing, it’s that I can do that by myself and stop waiting for other people to suggest going out!

The Bled castle and church viewed from a shore opposite Lake Bled on a sunny day.

The second half of the lake trail is just following the street, and sometimes simply the sidewalk. It’s noisy and it smells of gas. At least, the view is still as good, if not even better than on the first side.

I stop for lunch and eat the fanciest sausage and potatoes of my life, followed by the classic Bled cream cake (which, at the risk of offending every Slovenian who reads me, is basically a mille-feuilles without the feuilles – it’s great).

At this point, it’s very obvious that yesterday and today I’ve really been pushing my knee’s limits. I hope the train will be enough to rest, and promise myself to get new cold packs in Zagreb.

And now, time to go to Zagreb! I’m really curious to see what the city will be like. I’m also slightly anxious because I have to book Interrail tickets at the train station due to booking shenanigans, and I have no idea where to even begin. Hopefully, the train station employees will know more than I do!

No talking about travel or plans for tomorrow, though: the only thing I’m interested right now is sitting down for these three hours and not using my knee at all.

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