Lake Bled

First up, a quick mention of the gorgeous place we’ve been staying at in Sticna (where conveniently or inconveniently every street in the town is also called “Sticna”.)

Branka has been our host at Hisa Ida, and her property includes a bar, a few beautiful apartments (toasty warm inside even on -6 degree nights), and a cute goat family, all in a semi rural setting 20 minutes from Ljubljana.

We drove for an hour north today to visit perhaps the most photographed place in all of Slovenia, Lake Bled. If you’re a jigsaw puzzle fan, you no doubt will have seen this scene before…tranquil lake, idyllic church perched upon a lonely island in the middle, dramatic snow-capped Alpine ridges as a backdrop, and Slovenia’s oldest castle playing sentinel from a rocky peak.

None of our photos really did it justice.

The small island is only accessible by boat. Professional oarsmen ferry groups over in canopied timber “Pletna” boats (15 euro p/p), or you can row yourself across in little rented boat (20 euros all up.) You can guess which option we went for!

Even though we had a max of ONE DEGREE today, it was warm out on the lake, and oarsman Cam captained our vessel to and from Bled Island and its (take a deep breath) “Church of the Mother of God on the Lake”.

Ring the Wishing Bell in the church and Mary is said to bring you good luck. Thanks Mary. (I’m not sure when the words “wish” and “luck” were added to the Catholic vocab. btw!) Mary also endorses the sale of souvenirs on the island. I found a pottery “potičnica”, a baking dish like a bundt pan used to make Slovenska potiča, a traditional walnut based cake.

I have been hanging out for this Lake Bled trip for the jaw dropping scenery obviously, but also to sample the much-written-about “kremsnita”, or Bled Cream Cake. It’s been served here since 1953 after pastry chef Istvan Lukacevic came up with his secret recipe at Bled’s Hotel Park. Various cafes and restaurants around town displaying the “Original Bled Cream Cake” sign sell them, and when we ordered 2 slices, the cafe owner called through and they were fetched fresh from the bakery and brought to our table!

My review? Well it’s basically just a vanilla slice. Not your wobbly gelatinous “snot block” you’d find at any country bakery in Australia. It’s fancier and more subtle than than, with maybe even a hint of cinnamon? But the lashings of cream, and that subtle taste didn’t hit me like a really great vanilla slice does. Dani’s slice rating? A mere 7/10. Sorry Slovenia!

Luckily, my new fave country made up for it with our dinner. We took a side road off the freeway back home and came across the town of Naklo. Hidden away was the gostilna (or local inn) Klub Kovač .

We ordered a bunch of traditional Slovenian dishes. Everything was delicious and so cheap with our whole meal costing around AUS$60. There were cottage cheese strukli with mushroom sauce, mushroom soup, Kranjska sausage, Soca river trout and a weird salad (they called it “Naklo salad”) which consisted of finely grated cabbage, red beans, marinated capsicum and sliced klobasa sausage. SO good!

We’re heading to Italia next, but can’t wait to pop into Slovenia’s southwest and northeast in the coming weeks. Hopefully by then I’ll have worked out the difference between saying “hello/zdravo” and “thankyou/hvala”. I’ve certainly kept a few shopkeepers entertained!

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