I'd read and heard some things about Slovenia, plus I had spoken to a fellow hiker whilst climbing Mt. Gower on Lord Howe Island! She had only good things to say about this relatively unknown part of Europe: in fact, the responses when I mentioned I was going to Slovenia ranged from "I've never heard of Slov...what?", to "Where's that?", to the very occasional knowing smile! My parents had visited parts of the country on a bus tour many years before, but I wanted to make our own itinerary with the help of Google Earth. I started at the capital city, Ljubljana, which is the best starting point if you're flying in to Slovenia and wanting to stay in the alpine area.
Ljubljana is definitely worth a visit. We stayed 2 nights, as our flight landed at dusk. There were mini-cab drivers in the arrivals hall touting for business (no doubt at an inflated price!), but we ignored them and walked out to the taxi rank. Several drivers were standing next to their cabs, but it turned out that they were all in cahoots, and we ended up being overcharged for the 30-minute trip to the city centre (according to our hotel manager). Others I have spoken to were also overcharged, so my advice is to email your hotel in advance and ask for an approximate cost for a cab, then present this to your driver before agreeing on a price.
View across Ljubljana from Bled Castle
We stayed at the Art Hotel (found on Google Earth): a small, competitively-priced hotel which is well-located for city exploration. Breakfasts are quite basic but the staff are very helpful and friendly. The hotel is in a courtyard, with laneways off to the south and east. There is an excellent pizzeria in the Gregorčičeva Ulica, at the end of the southern laneway.
Typical Ljubljana street
A walk along the Ljubljanica (the river) will take you to many of Ljubljana's top attractions:
Ljubljanica (the river)
Strolling along the river also takes you to various cafés and restaurants, all within walking distance of the bridges and castle. The good thing about Ljubljana is that it's a relatively small city and everything is a short walk away if your hotel is centrally-located.
LJUBLJANA TO BLED
We had Eurail passes and intended to mostly travel by train in Slovenia, but the hotel staff in Ljubljana advised us to take the bus from the main railway station to our next destination- Bled. This famous tourist town's lake and island church feature in many brochures and calendars. In fact, I believe that Bled is the most recognized place in Slovenia! The bus took us up the motorway and into the village, but we had a long walk alongside the lake to reach our destination. It was difficult to find accommodation for just one night but our B&B, Rooms Pazlar Jerman, was more than adequate and the breakfast (with freshly-made crépes) was superb. Bled Castle
Stunning scenery around Lake Bled
The island (Blejski Otok)... and some ducklings!
We left our luggage and walked the entire circumference of Lake Bled, stopping at the Grand Hotel Toplice for afternoon tea so we could try one of Bled's famous cream cakes (highly recommended!).
Cream cake for afternoon tea, looking across to Bled Castle!
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Other activities around Bled include visiting Bled Castle, cruising to the island (Blejski Otok) to climb the huge stone staircase and visit the Church of the Mother of God on the Lake (and ring the bell?), hiring a boat to row on the lake, and even swimming in the pristine waters! . . . . . . . . . Approaching storms forced us to return to our B&B with our pre-purchased meals. Dinner was spent watching a spectacular lightning show and trying not to jump at the thunder cracking overhead!
LAKE BLED TO KRANJSKA GORA, THEN TO JASNA RESORT
Again, we intended to travel part of the way by train, but we were advised to simply catch 'connecting' buses. The bus from the lakeside stop took us into Lesce Bled, then there is supposed to be 3 minutes to catch the Kranjska Gora bus if the first bus is on time, which it wasn't. We had almost an hour's wait but we had allowed for this.
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Initially we planned to stay in Kranjska Gora, but whilst studying Google Earth I happened upon the Jasna Resort. This is a collection of buildings around a beautiful lake with a backdrop of rugged alps, so we simply had to stay there! We had to hike approximately 2 km through the forest to reach our hostel (Rooms Barovc) but it was well worth it, just for the views from the lake!
Do you like the ATM at the Jasna resort?
Pics from the Vršič Pass
Another change of plans was enforced when we learned that there were no buses from our next destination, Bovec, into Italy until late June/early July, so we were 2 weeks too early! We decided to take the bus over the spectacular Vršič Pass, stay one night in Bovec (Alp Hotel) and enjoy the scenery, paddle in the Soča River with its beautiful green water, then return to Kranjska Gora. The hostel manager offered to meet us there and drive us over the border, which was so kind of him!
We decided to take the bus over the spectacular Vršič Pass, stay one night in Bovec (Alp Hotel) and enjoy the scenery, paddle in the Soča River with its beautiful green water, then return to Kranjska Gora. The hostel manager offered to meet us there and drive us over the border, which was so kind of him!
Points to note:
LORD HOWE ISLAND: A MUST-SEE!
Lord Howe Island is a very special place, with both flora and fauna unique to the island, ie found nowhere else in the world. Although it lies in the Tasman Sea, 700 km from the mainland of Australia, it is actually part of the state of New South Wales.