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Published: September 19th 2019
"Standing placidly in the shadows of the Julian Alps, ringed by thick forests and guarded by a stern medieval castle, is Slovenia’s beloved Lake Bled. At its center is Bled Island
, home to one most beautiful churches on the planet and the “wishing bell,” a 16th century chime consecrated by the Pope himself that is believed to grant the wishes of all who ring it."
On Thursday, we took a bus to Lake Bled, where the quintessential Slovenian photo of the church on the island in a lake is taken...It was still cool in the morning, and the sun started to come out just after we arrived. We decided to walk around the lake on the 6 kilometer path and opted not to hike up to castle. Part way around, we came to the Olympic Rowing Center, which explained all the tiny buoys in the lake. The World Rowing Championships
, and 2011
were held at Lake Bled.
Further on, we saw a sign for a terrace cafe and stairs leading up the hill. We decided to go, and ended up having cappuccinos and the famous Bled cream cake high above the lake at one of the many
summer homes of Marshall Tito, where he once hosted Indira Gandhi, Khrushchev, and Kim Jong Un's grandfather, among others!
"Cream cake, characterized by delicate puff pastry atop layers of light vanilla cream and custard, is a dish that can be dated back to the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Almost all the countries under the Hapsburg’s former reign still have a version of the cake: The Slovenian version of cream cake is kremna rezina and, thanks to a recent granting of protected designation of origin status
, it only comes from the patisseries at Lake Bled."
Afterwards, we continued along the trail, and came to a departure point for the boats to the island.
"The traditional transportation to Bled Island is a wooden boat known as a pletna. The word pletna is a borrowing from Bavarian German Plätten 'flat-bottomed boat'. Some sources claim the pletna was used in Lake Bled as early as 1150 AD, but most historians date the first boats to
1590 AD. Similar in shape to Italian gondolas, a pletna seats 20 passengers. Modern boats are still made by hand and are recognizable by their colorful awnings. Pletna oarsman employ the stehrudder technique to propel and navigate boats across the lake using two oars. The role of the oarsman dates back to 1740, when Empress Maria Theresa granted 22 local families exclusive rights to ferry religious pilgrims across Lake Bled to worship on Bled Island. The profession is still restricted. Many modern oarsman descend directly from the original 22 families." wikipedia
Since it cost about $15 each for the trip, we decided to forgo the ride. Further down the path we came to one of the many boat and SUP rental places. I had considered renting a SUP, but the wind had come up, and I had no change of clothes, and it was still cold...so we rented a row boat! I rowed out to the island and Bill rowed back. Several people swam there (the water is warmish due to thermal springs) from different points on the shore!
continued our walk around the lake, and ended up at the bus station just before a bus left for Ljubljana! A nice day...
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