Updated: Jun 1, 2022
We spent last night in a chalet-style hotel near the Austrian border with Slovenia. After a great six-course dinner we did a midnight hike up the hill above the hotel with all lights out to view the stars. We are in the mountains here, so there is very little light pollution, so the stars are many and bright. Then this morning after breakfast we head to the town of Bled on the shores of Lake Bled.
The town was first recorded in old history sources in 1004, so it's been around for a while and seen all the changes that Slovenia has experienced throughout the years (and indeed centuries). Bled is located on the southern foot of the mountain range that forms the border between Slovenia and Austria and is only about 31 miles northwest of the national capital of Ljubljana (where we'll be heading tomorrow).
Bled has many great features, but the two that truly stand out is the Bled Castle sitting HIGH on the hill above town and Bled Lake sitting right along both the town and the castle. We start with the castle, a nice view over the lake, some live music from an accordion player and some of the famous Bled cakes.
Bled Castle is a medieval castle built on a precipice above the city and right next to the lake. It is the oldest Slovenian castle and is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia. The castle is now a history museum with a collection that represents the lake's history. It's also the place where we'll have dinner tonight.
Now we are not sure how old the castle is, but it was first mentioned in a May 1011 deed of donation issued by Emperor Henry II. The castle also has a drawbridge over a moat.
We then wander down to the lake side where we have some snacks and drinks before setting out across the lake to experience the only island in all of Slovenia. When we load into the boat, we notice there doesn't seem to be a motor and we are right. There are no motorboats allowed on the lake - everything is rowed. Thankfully we don't have to do that rowing, there's a nice young guy with good muscles to do that for us. The lake is not large, a little over a mile long and a little over a half mile wide, so it only takes about twenty minutes to get out to the island in the middle of the lake.
The main feature of the island is the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church. Visitors frequently ring its bell (see the video below), due to an old legend claiming it provides good luck. Another tradition is that of the wedding groom carrying his bride-to-be up the 99 steps leading up to the church. I thought about carrying Carol up the stairs, but I didn't want to show off, so I reframed.