Forrest Glick

Discovering Slovenia

Uncharted Territory: Ljubljana to Bled

Bled is absolutely beautiful. It sits on the edge of a picturesque lake, with a church built on an island and a castle perched above it all (usually the case in these old towns). There are hiking and biking trails connecting the hills and valleys. Streams feed into the lake and the water was refreshingly cool, but quite swimmable.
Slovenia was an unknown quantity. While in Vienna, some fellow travelers mentioned that they were headed to Ljubljana. I had never even heard of the place (it's the capital of Slovenia), but after a few follow-up questions, my mind was made up. I booked a ticket to Ljubljana for the following day.
Lake Bohinj is located within the Triglav National Park and is just 30 minutes from Bled. It is a larger lake and less populated, so offers a bit more solitude and more extensive hiking.
The bus let me off in the middle of town, and honestly, I was initially underwhelmed. It turns out the bus station isn't in the best part of town, but a few blocks toward the river, the old town started to reveal itself through twisting cobblestone streets and dragon-flanked bridges. The old castle sits atop the hill overlooking it all.
Eventually, I made my way back to Bled. It was great being in the mountains for a few days, but I needed to start heading north toward Scandinavia. I learned there was a ride sharing service called Blablacar where you could pay for a seat with someone driving your way - basically hitch hiking via SMS. I signed up for the service and got a ride with a German woman named Claudia from Munich, but that's another story...
Ljubljana offered a mix of cafés and art, music and outdoor markets, but I was seeking more nature and a bit of hiking. On the recommendation of some locals I met, I took an hour-long bus ride to the town of Bled.