Back to camping again, after 10 day break in Switzerland and Austria, and also the first accommodation we had booked beforehand for our 3 week Rookie trip through Europe. We arrived really late at Bled, Slovenia due to unplanned fun drive through Grossglockner Alpine Road.
Drive into Slovenia was uneventful, no passport checks (so prefer travelling like this as opposed to all the security at airports!) Another new country for us, very hilly, green and lush -over half the country is covered by forest. It is the greenest country in Europe after Sweden and Finland. The first views of our destination, Lake Bled, was exciting even though when you first get close to it, the number of tourists flocking around seemed a bit overwhelming!
Thankfully our campsite Camp Bled was a little away from the busiest of areas, and it was nice to see few people still swimming late into the evening. This 5 star campsite was very much ‘glamping’ for us with its own restaurant, free Wifi, play area, kids activities and based right on the Lake. Very different from the 2 star campsite we stayed in France week before last, but way more crowded!
However, we were very disappointed with the number of pitches they had with very little space around -we were packed like sardines…for such a beautiful campsite with gorgeous hills and trees all around and being right on the lake, (charging a hefty €35 per night), it sucked that they would have such poor quality almost gravel(very little grass) pitches. Proximity to lake was the only redeeming factor. And the kids did enjoy the activities and entertainment they had there – from magic shows, arts and crafts, archery to learning Slovenian dancing, folk tales, and much more!
Tired from the 8 hour journey, we were not looking forward to setting up camp at 8pm at night, cook our meal, and then be able to crash for the night. I am seriously starting to question whether camping is still the right way for us. After the minor problems we had camping in France, and the effort of setting up tent in the dark, camping just didn’t seem that appealing at that point. To top it all, We had the biggest thunderstorm that night, rained all night long and boy, was so NOT fun the next morning, sitting around our mucky campsite, trying to have coffee and croissants with mud all around 🙁
Luckily it was easy to forget all that once we set off to enjoy the day around Lake Bled, and there was indeed so much one can do here. For outdoor lovers it is paradise here! Slovenia’s only national park Triglav National Park is nearby, with different hiking trails for all levels. Emerald River adventure organized by a private company 3glav-adventures is highly recommended for a great adventure day out in Bled. There is also Castle Bled, boat ride to the island in the middle of the lake and Vintgar Gorge. If nothing else, it was just lovely to walk the 6km along the shores of the lake, sunbathe or dip in for a swim. We did exactly that, plus dangled our hands and feet in the water, had ice cream and made our way up to Castle Bled through these woods and narrow paths up the hill.
We paid €20 to go inside the castle, this will be our 3rd castle on this trip, and it was really lovely. The panaromic views from the castle walls were simply breathtaking. We had an inexpensive meal with lovely Slovenian wine in the courtyard, enjoyed meandering around the different castle rooms, and learned about the history of Bled. This castle was first mentioned in 1011 and there was a parchment in there dating who owned it then, fascinating!
We went out for a meal in the town of Bled, a bit away from the Lake (when I get more organized I will get the travel receipts out, get names of all the good restaurants we ate on this trip and write about them), for now let’s just say food was good and reasonably priced! Next day we went for a swim again, enjoyed our last views of the blue green waters of this beautiful Glacier Lake and then set off for the capital Ljubljana which was the 2nd best in Lonely Planet’s Europe Destinations 2014.
Unfortunately, we were very constrained for time and could only briefly visit Castle Ljubljana. We needed to get to our next destination Istria, Croatia where we were supposed to camp again, this time couchsurfing with this person who lets you pitch tent at his backyard right on the beach! But I had enough of camping by now and we changed plans and booked an apartment in Pula using Airb&b. Highly recommend using this website for cheap, comfortable, last minute travel with the added bonus of meeting new people and gaining local knowledge.
Even though we didn’t really get to experience Slovenia as such, we will always remember the lovely waters of Lake Bled, a truly beautiful place.