After our snowy hike around Plitvice Lakes, Guillaume and I thawed our fingers in the heated car, de-layered a bit and programmed our GPS to get us to the Slovenian border. We had read about delays crossing over — Croatia is in the EU but it is not a part of Schengen, making Slovenia a key gatekeeper to the Schengen zone — but we were still wholly unprepared for the TWO-HOUR queue that awaited us. It’s a good thing we packed snacks.
Once we were finally allowed into the country, we bought a sticker for access to the Slovenian highways and then attempted to navigate to our hotel in Bled without the GPS (as you may remember, our machine only worked in Croatia and BiH). Eventually, we made it — and were quite pleasantly surprised by the quiet scene that greeted us. After seeing so many photos on Instagram and Pinterest, we were prepared for hoards of selfie-stick-wielding tourists crowding the little town. Instead, our hotel was practically empty and many of the restaurants were shuttered. No complaints on our end! We’d opt for fewer restaurant options over loud tourist crowds any day.
The next morning we were faced with a minor crisis — no more space on my camera card and no laptop to back up the photos! — but my resourceful husband tracked down a spare at one of the local gift shops. Back in action, we climbed up the pathway to Bled Castle for a bit of history and a lovely view of the lake. Afterward, we headed back down the trail and parked ourselves on a restaurant terrace right next to the lake for lunch, which concluded with our first taste of the famed Bled cream cake. I can confirm: It’s absolutely delicious. In fact, we went on to sample dueling Bled cream cakes from two additional restaurants over the next 24 hours to taste-test each variety, but they were all so consistently delicious we could not settle on a favorite.
We walked off our cake slices with a stroll along the lake and then rented a small rowboat to visit Bled island. We waited about 10 minutes for a boat to become available and there were very few tourists around town, so I can imagine it must be pretty difficult to get your hands on one of the small rowboats during the summer. There seems to be a limited number of boats available because of the limited dock space on the tiny island.
We were disappointed that one of Bled island’s iconic church buildings was covered in bright blue scaffolding during our visit — why blue?! come on guys, so many other colors could have somewhat blended in with the scenery — but what can you do. After Gui rowed a full circle around the island, we docked and wandered about for 10 minutes or so before heading back to the mainland, arriving with two minutes to spare before we would have had to pay for a second rental hour — Woohoo!
We spent the rest of our relaxing day walking around the lake’s perimeter, feasting on local dishes at a low-key pub dinner and, of course, picking up a second helping of cream cake before we returned to our hotel that evening.
One more road trip post to go! Stay tuned for photos from our final day in Slovenia.