Lake Bled in Slovenia was the ninth location of our Europe Backpacking trip after Vienna in Austria. The place was a total contrast to the big city of Vienna. Lake Bled was a quiet place where people came to take a break from the madness of city life.
The place was full of adventure sports of various kinds.
Vienna to Lake Bled
Vienna to Lake Bled is almost 5 hours with one stopover in between if you take a cab. We had decided to stop at Pyramidenkogel but the weather wasn’t supportive.
All we could see was clouds, so after enjoying the scenery, we decided to head to Lake Bled before weather worsened.
As soon as we crossed the border of Austria and entered into Slovenia, we went through a long tunnel of almost 8 km. As we came out, we sighed in relief and also the scenery suddenly changed.
The houses, roofs, building structures were all different from what we had been seeing in Europe for more than two weeks.
Checking into Vila Cvetka in Lake Bled
As we reached our apartment – Vila Cvetka,our apartment, we were taken aback by the sheer beauty of the place. Even ourcab driver was surprised to see such a beautiful place.
We were received by our host – Plemej Jani who took us to his office and checked our passports and paperwork. After that he asked us our plan for Lake Bled and further ahead. After we told him, he suggested some places to eat and things to do in Lake Bled.
He told us to visit the castle. According to him, the whole trip to castle from the apartment was 6.4 km and would take 25 minutes. But then he seemed a very fit man. For people like us it was close to an hour. He also told us about a Bled Vintgar – national park and waterfall which happens to be among the 10 most picturesque places of Europe. He suggested we should go there around 7.30 am to avoid peak traffic.
He also told us about the places to eat -Public for vegan food, Peglazn for fish and kavarna for the original Bled Cream Cake.
Vila Cvetka – our lovely apartment
After that Plemej took us to our apartment, which was quite comfortable and well furnished. It was perfect for a family getaway.
After checking in, and resting for a while, we went to the Lake area for a late lunch and take a walk around the place.
Lunch in Lake Area
Of the three restaurants suggested, Public was closed and we couldn’t Peglazn and the third was for the signature dessert of Lake Bled. So, we settled at kult Café.
It seemed crowded and closest to the lake with a good view. We ordered pizza and burger in vegetarian and vegan options plus tuna baguette along with local liqueur, wine and coke. Coke was the most expensive drink.
The weather has started cooling down and was very windy, so hot food was quite welcome. The local liqueur was too bitter.
Exploring Lake Area
After finishing lunch close to 5.30 pm, we went around the market looking for windcheaters as it had started drizzling too. But being such a small town there were not many options and whatever was available was very expensive. After checking a few shops others decided to walk along the lake and I continued exploring shops.
As I was looking around I got a call from one friend as the other two had decided to go off to the castle. So, the two of us walked around for a while and then went to Kavarna Café for the original Bled Cream Cake and cacao – hot chocolate which was not hot.
But still the chocolate drink by the lake with a cool breeze felt good. We sat there for a while.
After that we checked the souvenir shops for fridge magnet and get a feel of the place. We saw a wine shop very interestingly done up among others. There was one home décor shop where we were greeted by young twin girls sitting on floor and playing. As we were leaving the shop they were joined by a set of twin boys. It was quite a sight.
Back to the Apartment
After walking around for a bit longer, we headed back to the apartment. The we returned to the apartment.
The other two had already reached the apartment. It was nice to be in apartment as it was cosy. We were not hungry so sat down for a while. Since we had the apartment to ourselves and there was enough space, we played music, sang and danced. Once we were all tired to our bones, we went off to sleep as we had an early morning and long day waiting for us.
Our initial plan was to stay in Lake Bled for only a day and then head to Zagreb early morning, roam around during the day and take the bus to Mostar next morning, but since we liked Lake Bled, we decided stay longer in Bled, skip Zagreb and go directly to Mostar taking the 12-hour bus journey.
Trip to Bled Vintgar
Next day our cab was here at 7.30 am so we all went to Bled Vintgar Waterfalls. Our driver was young woman named Tina.
The waterfall was serene and beautiful. The breeze was fresh and the sound of waterfall was loud enough that we could hardly listen to each other.
The small water droplets falling on us were quite refreshing. It was a great feeling to be in the heart of nature. And, as told by our host, we had gone before rush hour so we met people on way back. And we were thankful for his advice because the place had started filling up by the time we were coming back.
After coming back to apartment and being charged an extra 18 Euro for return trip, making the total cost of trip – 30 Euros, we packed and checked out of the apartment.
Brunch at Kavarna Cafe
We then went to Kavarna Cafe for breakfast. We were told breakfast gets over by 10 so ordered lunch. I had a green salad followed by another lovely Bled Cream Cake and Americano. The view was nice and made up for anything missing.
While coming to Lake area, it was cloudy and raining, but a triathlon was on and despite the weather, there were many people participating and running around the lake.
By the time, we finished food, the sun came out, so I decided to take a stroll around. Since it was nice and sunny sat in the eco-train for a panorama view of Lake Bled for 5 Euros.
The train ride was nice. Being weekend, I saw lots of people coming from outstation on the way geared up for different sports. Lake Bled seems to be a very sporty town.
I also saw lot of old house structures, different cottages all giving a feeling of good old times. In the sun, they seemed cosy but the night before when we were crossing them on foot they looked cold and deserted as there were no people around the area. Strange how the time of the day changes perception!
While roaming around the area and exploring the town on foot I saw many different shops. Most of the places were either cafes or cafe bars. There was one shop with Indian embroidered bags too, but it was closed being Sunday.
While walking around, I got a call from others and we decided to meet at Kavarna. This was the first time, out of the multiple times we were at Kavarna since yesterday, that we had a bad experience with the server but we still gave him benefit of doubt because the place seemed unusually crowded.
The weather has been constantly changing through the day – sunny, cloudy, rainy and back.
The Vegan Lunch
While walking around, we found the Vegan restaurant – Public. This was the first thing we had started looking for in Lake Bled and had finally managed to find it open and serving people.
The vegan friend had coffee with rice milk and vegan waffles. Both things were very nice.
Spending some more time by the Lake
We still had sometime before taking our cab to Ljubljana so we went to the heart shaped photo-op zone near lake and clicked pictures of all of us together. We asked someone to click our picture and in return we clicked his picture.
We were told that the lake freezes in winter and ice skating happens. At that moment, the water temperature is 19 degrees and its warm.
By then it was time to go back to apartment and so we started returning. On the way back, we saw a WC. Despite depositing 50 cents, the door to WC didn’t open and the money was wasted.
Bidding Goodbye to Villa Cvetka
As we reached the apartment, our cab also came. So, we said our byes to the host as well as the gorgeous Villa Cvetka. He gifted us water bottles, water being precious in Europe as no one gives it for free, for the way.
Plemej has a royal chair in his office, so I asked him about it and he told us that the chair had been in family for years and had travelled with him to different countries.
Lake Bled to Ljubljana
After this we started our journey to Ljubljana from where we would catch the bus to Mostar via Zagreb. Our driver Alex was a friendly old man. The journey back was comfortable and View was nice. Also, sun was coming out intermittently so it felt nice. He charged us 72 Euro for the cab drive from Lake Bled to Ljubljana.
The quality of life is definitely better in Lake Bled but the technology is much older than Baltic countries and other places we had visited till then. There were no automatic lights when one opened the gates. Even the hand showers and bath tub were much older models designs. It felt like living in an old era.
Adventures at Ljubljana Bus Station
As we reached Ljubljana. We first tried looking for a WC. After asking the staff and information centre, I finally had to go to ticket counter and buy a token for 60 cents and then come out and go to the basement where the washroom was. The door opened when I put the token and clicked once I entered. Don’t know if I went to men section or women because of language issue.
As I came out, the door clicked opened and closed after me. Then I went looking for food as I was hungry. We hadn’t eaten after brunch. So, went to Dunya Dower outlet thinking I will get falafel wrap but ended with a veg sandwich. The person serving was a sweet Macedonian fellow who kept talking. He put a non-veg wrap in front of me and I got confused, so I asked if it’s mine and he said ‘sabra Mala’ meaning patience. Then he asked where I was from and on being told India, he asked me whats ‘thank you’ called in Hindi. He found ‘Dhanyawad’ difficult but could relate to shukriya.
Ljubljana to Zagreb
And then we got in the bus. First time on Europe trip – a bus with torn seats and no WC. The female driver charged us 1 Euro each for our luggage- another first. It felt like we were back home in India. They had advertised free wifi on the bus station for Croatia Bus. When in bus, wifi connected but didn’t work.
In the bus, the driver had put the blower on 24 degrees and it became really hot – like a furnace but due to the language issue, we stayed put. But then someone went and told her so she reduces the temp to 18 degrees. And we were saved.
As we reached the Slovenia border and were exiting Schengen region. Our passports were stamped for entering Croatia. As we were getting our passports checked, two friends used the WC. So basically, the two of them used the WC in no man’s land.
And we entered Croatia!
As we entered Croatia the first thing we noticed were well-lit food joints, malls and high rises. But soon, there were lines and lines of apartments. We reached Zagreb by 8.45 and our next bus was at 10.30.
Stopover at Zagreb Bus Station
We stopped at Bakus Internet cafe where wine was cheaper than water and coke. Wine costed 1 euro whereas coke was 1.50 Euro. The wine was really good there.
When it was time for our bus, we reached platform 406 where our bus was. We deposited our luggage- 4 bags for 4 euros and took our seats in the bus. I started reading a book and others went off to sleep. After sometime I also slept. The bus stopped around 3.30 for loo and snacks break. As we came back from the loo, I opened my purse to see why it seemed so heavy.
The Shock of a life time!
And that’s when I got the shock of my life- my wallet was missing – all money, cards everything. I was penniless. Thankfully I still had my passport. I looked around, in all my bags but no luck. I was stunned. But there was nothing I could do. I prayed to all the gods to help but didn’t find the wallet. I have no idea when my wallet was picked between Zagreb bus station and now.
A while later the bus stopped as we had to get our passports stamped again and that is when I told my friends. We all looked for the wallet, asked around but use.
And we reached Mostar
I was about to enter Mostar, penniless and wasn’t sure how I would survive but that’s in the next blog… keep reading.