Lake Bled: Stepping Into A Fairy Tale

Lake Bled, with its picturesque views that seem to be straight out of a fairy tale, is probably the best known site in Slovenia (for the cultured inhabitants of the world who have even heard of Slovenia in the first place). When staying in Ljubljana, it’s common and perfectly easy to organize a half day trip to Bled to see both the lake the medieval castle overlooking the lake.
When I visited Bled, we arrived in the morning and were greeted with an incredible view of the island in the middle of the lake shrouded in hazy morning fog. The lighting and misty morning atmosphere made the perfect conditions for a breaktaking view and an incredible photo. 
Lake Bled originally got on the map and into the public eye thanks to a man who developed a retreat in Bled where he proclaimed he could cure any disease, even cancer, with three simple steps:
  1. Walk barefoot all the time
  2. Bath in really, really cold ice water
  3. Walk around butt-naked all the time to get the most sun and vitamins 
Obviously, this nonsensical practice led to no good results. In fact, the practice was banned because people died instead of getting cured. However, it was this practice that made the news and brought widespread attention to Bled and its natural beauty. 
We headed down to the waterfront, passing by a hotel that our guide said Melania Trump stayed at recently before her husband was elected as US President (Melania Trump is originally from Slovenia). At the bank of the still waters of Lake Bled, we boarded a pletna boat, a traditional boat developed in this region that is designed with a flat bottom and architecture that allows the entire boat to be powered by one rower positioned at the rear of the vessel. 
The rowers are only allowed to be from specific families who have been in this boat business for generations; our guide explained that it was a business that still makes good money in Bled and a single pletna boat can be sold for €20,000. Thus, sometimes men marry daughters of rower families and change their last names just to be able to partake in the lucrative rowing business. Our vessel was called Lara, named after one of the daughters in our rower’s family. 
We disembarked on the island in the middle of the lake – the only island in Slovenia – for about half an hour, giving me just enough time to walk around the island’s church, peruse the gift shop for Slovenian souvenirs, send a postcard back home, and stop in the cafe for a traditional potica (check out this post to read more about potica and other Slovenian foods!). 
Alongside my slice of potica, I ordered a “Bled hot chocolate” which was melted chocolate with walnut liquor and cream – hands down one of the best chocolate drinks I’ve ever had. It was so thick that I had to tip my cup back for a few seconds for the last drops to slowly drop out of the cup. 
Bled hot chocolate and potica
After our excursion to the island, we headed up to Bled Castle, which overlooks the lake. 
The view from the top of the castle was absolutely gorgeous as you could see the village and lake below and the mountains of the Julian Alps stretching along the horizon.
I was able to capture the most picturesque photo of Lake Bled from the vantage point of the castle, and then proceeded to tour around the medieval rooms and even the gift shop, which featured a plethora of honey products (Slovenia is a country where 4 in 1000 people are beekeepers, so honey items are an abundant speciality). 
The castle provides visitors a chance to try a traditional Bled Cream Cake, which is two types of heavy cream sandwiched between two very thin layers of pastry. It was extremely filling but very sweet and definitely worth trying. 
Saying goodbye to the amazing views, we departed from the castle, but the images of Lake Bled and its astounding beauty will forever be etched into my mind. This relatively unknown gem of Europe should truly be on everyone’s travel bucket list. 

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