Travel Mammoth 48 hours in Slovenia..... Part Two Bled

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Europe » Slovenia » Upper Carniola » Bled
July 10th 2016
Published: July 12th 2016
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Woolly says – I sat enjoying the air conditioning on the bus for the hour and a half trip from the Slovenian capital to the unique town of Bled, I imparted my great knowledge to an enthralled Jo, who was gazing at the scenery passing by.

Enthralled hmmm maybe trancelike would be nearer the mark!

Woolly says - Bled has had residents since Mesolithic times, which makes it older than me! The name was first mentioned in 1004 when the German King Henry II ceded ownership of the area to Albuin, Bishop of Brixen. The area became famous for the water’s healing properties as well as a retreat for the wealthy, Josip Broz Tito the ruler of Yugoslavia built his summer residence there in 1947. Having seen pictures I knew that the area was now most famous for it’s island and church. As the coach pulled up we descended into the furnace like temperatures and read through Jo’s step by step directions actually managing to find our beds for the night without getting lost. As I hurried the women through their ablutions..... why people want showers so often is a mystery to me!

Looking at his sweaty fur and the fly that seemed to be most attracted to the smears of jam that were leftovers from a previous meal I rolled my eyes knowing that no matter what I said water was unlikely to be allowed within an inch of him!

Woolly says – Ignoring the eye rolling I charged down the road talking the pathway towards the lake, it was beautiful and as I looked further around I spied the castle perched on the hill high above us, knowing that we wouldn’t achieve anything that evening we sat down for dinner and planned our route for the next morning.

Sitting by the lakeside with our croissants watching the swans and Japanese tourists taking four million pictures was a most enjoyable way to start the day.

Woolly says – as I pushed some crumbs behind my bandana for later I looked around for a method of transport to scale the rock face of the fortress, Jo and Zoe started to walk up an incline when I felt a sharp pain in my hind paw, Jo didn’t seem impressed with this development and as she went higher and higher through the dense foliage the sweat was pouring down her face, I offered her my bandana for her kindness in carrying me to mop herself with!

It was gruelling and as Zoe and I climbed higher and higher all I could here was the mammoth shouting ‘faster, faster I have a castle to conquer’, strangely as we reached the gates at the top his paw seemed to have recovered and he raced up the last incline and into the lower courtyard as we staggered behind.

Woolly says – It must have been cramp! Allowing the girls to sit and refresh themselves I read through the guide book, first mentioned in a 22nd May 1011 deed of donation issued by Emperor Henry II in favour of the Bishops of Brixen the castle passed to the Austrian House of Habsburg in 1278.

The oldest part of the castle is the Romanesque tower, should give some good views! In the Middle Ages more towers were built and the fortifications were improved, other buildings were constructed in the Renaissance style arranged around two courtyards, which are connected with a staircase. The chapel in the upper courtyard, which was built in the 16th century and renovated around 1700, when it was also painted with illusionist frescoes meant there should be lots to investigate.

Looking across the lake from the upper courtyard gave the most incredible views of the island and the surrounding mountains, just like a postcard.

Woolly says – I trotted over to the chapel, inside was small but beautiful and the warming oranges used in the fresco’s would make a lovely setting for a wedding. Next door was an iron foundry, not in use but with lots of items on display. Realising that I had lost the others I headed into the museum with loods of artefacts taken from excavations in the area, including a case of bones which I checked carefully for remains of my ancestors! I found Jo sitting in the shade in the lovely open area and as we seemed to have completed the upper courtyard we made our way to the lower area. Jo poked her head into the wine cellar but having checked the prices I didn’t think she would be buying anything, before we climbed up to the fortifications and the views across the rest of Bled. There was literally a picture at every point, the Romanesque Tower showed us pictures of the changing of the seasons and reinforced how incredibly beautiful the area was regardless of the time of year.

Leaving the castle behind the walk back down was lovely and as Woolly jumped from step to step we smiled happily at those on the way up who looked as distressed and hot as we had only a few hours before.

Woolly says – as our boat pulled out into the lake I asked our captain about his craft, he told me that the traditional boats were made by locals and are known as Pletna boats. The origins of the Pletna boat go back to 1590 and they are flat bottomed, operated by the Pletna oarsman. This profession is a very highly respected one as it cannot be performed just by anyone, the title of the Pletna oarsman was handed down from generation to generation, which is why the profession of “Pletnarstvo” remains in individual families throughout the centuries. I watched him using almost a knitting stitch with his oars to carry us safely across and sat enjoying the gentle lapping of the lake on the side of the boat, except for the when the incredibly loud kiwi gentleman yelled out and laughed hysterically at other passing vessels who happened quite mastered the art of rowing.

As the mammoth jumped ashore and shot off towards the church Zoe and I took a gentler pace.

Woolly says – you only get forty minutes and I didn’t want to miss a moment, first stop was the church. According to legend the island originally had a temple to the ancient Slavic goddess Živa, the temple disappeared during battles between the followers of the pagan religion and Christians, who destroyed the altar and built a church. The first masonry church on the island, a three-nave Romanesque basilica, was consecrated by the Aquilean patriarch Pellegrino in 1142. In 1509 it was damaged by an earthquake to such an extent that it required thorough renovation and this was carried out in the Baroque style. Only the frescoes in the presbytery and a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, which probably adorned the main altar, were preserved from the previous building. The Church today is from the 17th century when it was renovated after another earthquake..... it hasn’t had a lot of luck with earthquakes! The bell tower was immense and I couldn’t stretch my neck high enough to see the top from beside the church so leaving that for a while I headed inside.

We caught up with him admiring the abundance of gold that adorned the alter and the remaining fresco’s that could be seen.

Woolly says – Wow, it must of cost a few pistachios to build that! Having finished taking the pictures we strolled outside to further admire the tower. Built in 1465 the 52 m high free-standing bell-tower is made of porous stone known as buckwheat grain, it was impressive. A small gallery filled a few minutes before the ice cream stall caught my eye, Zoe needed no prompting on this choice and as I tucked into my Bell Ringers Special I considered how nice this island would be for me to live on, just the right size, a fabulous view and an ice cream parlour, ideal!

Having wet wiped him down and removed the wafer from his tail we re-joined our captain for journey back to the town.

Woolly says – with only a couple of hours left there was one more place to visit. As we had arrived on the bus the night before I had noticed the curiously named ‘Hitchhikers Museum’, Jo and Zoe seemed in agreement that it was worth a look. As I went through the door I was greeted like a long lost friend by the owner, Miran Ipavec who has set world records for hitchhiking, at one point covering 31 countries in 10 days! As he told us about his travels and proudly showed us his collection of memorabilia I was mesmerised. In between his collection he introduced us to games to play, Jo was hopeless at naming capitals but seemed to manage with the beers from around the world! I felt sad to leave his enthusiasm but having signed my name on the wall of fame we needed food before our bus journey back to Zagreb.

Sitting over our pizza we all agreed what a delightful place Bled was and that if we came back there was always the Dino Park.

Woolly says – DINO PARK.....No one told me about a Dino Park! Adding it to the future plans, the list just gets longer and longer!

Additional photos below
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13th July 2016

Beautiful part of the world
I've always been interested in traveling to this part of the world. You've peaked our interest. Beautiful churches.
14th July 2016

I would highly recommend ......
.... it's a brilliant place to go and so much to see.

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