Saturday saw us getting up relatively early for breakfast before an 8am pickup by the tour company, Slovenia Explorer
Matevž had arranged a tour to Lake Bled where there is a beautiful church on an island in the middle of the lake, and also a castle where you get amazing views down onto the lake. The tour can be done by yourself. The bus goes to Bled, and is a reasonable cost of around 7 euro.
However, it takes around 70 minutes on the bus, with no guides and you have to fend for yourself when you arrive at the other end.
The tour that was offered seemed a little steep at 60 euro; However it was door to door, guided and included the boat across to the island, entrance to the castle and more. It was the best option and we eagerly snapped it up.
When we woke up, we were in for a little surprise. There was quite a large amount of snow on the ground. During the night, quite a few inches had settled and Ljubljana was white with the results.
As breakfast was included in the hotel stay, we made our way downstairs to have some food before our trip. I have to be honest, I am not really a breakfast person and I don’t bother having it at all when I am home. Also whilst continental breakfasts can be ok, I just think it more effort than it is worth.
However, Hotel Lev does breakfast like none I have ever seen before. I literally had to take photographs to show how comprehensive it was! I started off with a glass of fresh juice, and hit the tea caddy for a cup of Earl Grey.
The hotel offers such a range, it is unbelievable. Sausage, bacon, chicken sausage, fried and hard boiled eggs, omelettes, scrambled egg, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, polenta mash, cottage cheese pastries, crepes and American pancakes. This is just the hot section.
On the cold section where was a wheel of cheese that you carved yourself. Pastries, croissants, toast, hummus, pickles, olives, cheeses, meats, cakes, breads, oats and more. It was all so beautifully displayed that you couldn’t help but tuck in. I have to admit, I became quite addicted to the little mini croissants with apricot jam. Just fabulous.
Anyway, we finished breakfast and headed outside to get into the minibus for our trip to Lake Bled which would take around 40 minutes. We were the first to be picked up and our tour guide Tine advised there would be just the 8 of us on the tour and he would be be telling us all about Slovenia and the sights we were about to see.
We made several pick ups and were introduced to our travelling companions who had come from as far away as Chile. The drive took around 45 minutes and as we left Ljubljana the snow got thicker and the ground was covered. It was so pretty yet the roads and pathways were all open and life went on as normal!
Arriving at Lake Bled, Tine told us that the Lake was very popular all around the year. Water sports, sunbathing, swimming and more in the summer, and skiing in the winter. He led us down to the Pletna, the traditional Oared boats that are propelled across the Lake to the Island.
Our boat was called Ursa, which means bear. The boatman rowed us across the cold waters; the views were exceptional. The Alps, Castle and snowy landscape were perfect for my camera.
We disembarked on the island and walked up a large stone staircase. This led us to the Church at the top of the island. We were given an amount of time to explore on our own, and were to meet the boatman at the base of the island around 45 minutes later.
Of course, I couldn’t resist in taking as many photographs as I could. Strangely, even though there had been a large amount of snow deposited in Ljubljana, it was actually lighter in Bled and I had stupidly gotten my hopes up that it would be a magical winter wonderland.
Saying that, it was very picturesque and I knew some of the photographs would come out really well.
We made our way back down to the wooden boats and were transported back to the shore. Getting back onto the minibus Tine took us up the winding mountain roads until we reached Castle Bled, which overlooks the Lake and Church.
I have to say that the snow covered narrow steep walkways from the base to the top were a challenge for us tourists. The Castle was quite busy but we were able to have a look around the forge, chapel and they also have a print shop using a reconstructed Gutenberg printing press, where you can purchase hand made paper and printed documents.
We had been told to try out a local cream cake, but sadly the restaurant at the Castle had a private function and so there was no cake to be had!
After having a little free time to walk around, explore and take photographs, we descended down to our pick up spot for the last part of the tour.
This time we were going to the shoreline of Lake Bled where there was a lovely little Christmas Market and a restaurant which is also quite famous for the cream cake we had been recommended.
As soon as we got off the minibus, we headed straight for the restaurant to have a drink and some of the cake. It was a lot like a vanilla slice, however the pastry was sweeter and lighter and there was a layer of thick cream on top of the custard. Tricky to eat, but absolutely delicious.
After we ate we wandered around the market and shoreline. It was such a beautiful area that I took many photographs of the wintry scenery.
Sadly we were almost at the end of the tour and we hopped back into the mini-bus to begin the ride back to the City. I have to say tour company was excellent. So knowledgeable, funny and with exemplary language skills, not just English, but Italian, Spanish and a bit of German thrown in there too!
We were dropped off at our hotel and profusely thanked Matevž for organising the tour. It really was out of this World and I have decided I now need to see Lake Bled in the summer months when everything is in bloom!
We had a little bit of a chill out before getting ready to go back into the Centre of Town for dinner. We had decided to visit a Slovenian restaurant that evening to try some of the local foods.
The restaurant was rustic and decorated with murals and animal horns. The menu had many different items on it, and I was struggling to decide between two of the dishes. Eventually I plumped for veal in mushrooms with roasted potatoes. It looked a bit of a mess, but tasted lovely.
The only downside to the restaurant was a couple of fellow diners sat opposite us and literally stared at us through the whole meal, watching our every move. It really was quite an uncomfortable situation and instead of relaxing after dinner with maybe a dessert or coffee, we couldn’t leave quick enough!
This however meant we had a lot of time on our hands so walked around the City looking at the lights and taking more photographs.
As we had such a good time at Lolita, we decided to go back to try a different cake and relax. Well, I have to say it was one of the best parts of the holiday. We laughed and talked for a good few hours whilst eating divine cake and drinking white mulled wine. Just brilliant!
Eventually we went a did a little souvenir shopping before going back to the hotel to pack our suitcases as Sunday was sadly our last day….
Watch out for the last piece in my Slovenian adventure coming soon!