Postcards from a weekend in Bled, Slovenia

We ate, we walked, we talked. It was gorgeous.

I have a hard time writing on postcards.

Distilling an experience into a 4×5 inch space and leaving space for stamps is not the challenge. The difficulty is in what to write, when the experiences are revisions of things you do daily, that most people do daily. Eating, walking, gazing at beauty, having conversations that energize you with your companion. Then you do it again the next day.

View from the Grand Toplice Hotel.

In Bled I write:

“The view from our hotel room at the Grand Toplice Hotel leaves us speechless. Upon arrival, we threw open the terrace doors and spent time gazing at the lake, at the swans starkly white against deep and calming blue. On the first evening, we shared a bottle of local red wine and talked long into the night, outside on the terrace, wearing our woolen hats and layers under the thick jackets, until the lights of the lakeside buildings winked dark and we could no longer see our breaths.”

Postcard #1

I had never been to Bled, or Slovenia, before the weekend. When you are in a new place, you see with new eyes. Bill Bryson writes, “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”

Bled Castle.

Walking around the lake was a pleasure. The distance around the Lake Bled path is only 6 kilometers. On a normal travel day, I walk around 6.6 to 11 km, if I’m lucky. The best walks are shared, both the discoveries and pauses.

Ducks on Lake Bled.

“We walked around the lake, and every hundred meters there was something to comment on. Finding words to describe what might have been commonplace, but has been transformed, by the magic of getting to know the place, becomes an effort for precision and accuracy. The glassy surface of the lake winks back the painted sky, and the two friends fishing in a small rowboat, their backs to each other are the only things sending ripples to tell us we are looking at water and not a mirror. The ducks are gorgeous and unafraid, swimming and quacking close to where we stopped to breathe and gaze and exclaim delight.”

Postcard #2
The island on Lake Bled as golden hour begins.

We stopped for a cream cake, which Bled claims to have invented and/or perfected, (although Croats would claim their cream cake, kremšnita, was invented and perfected in Samobor).

Cream cake by the lake.

“Families with their children almost wild with the sense of space being by the Lake elicits; couples, on bikes or on foot, stream by our perch as we work through the shared slice of Kremšnita. The cake is almost air, fluffy and light. Here at the Vila Preseren café bar, the strawberries sandwiched between layers of cream and cake give jolts of surprise between bites. Good kava and in amounts that allow both coffee and cake to last as long as each other accompany the changing light from mid- to late afternoon. We will get up from this relaxed perch and make the round around the Lake, pretending it is for burning calories when really it is because we want to chase the light that will begin to paint the end of day on the water.”

Postcard #3
Sunset on Lake Bled.

The next day we checked out in time to pack everything in the car and head northwest to Vintgar Gorge, four kilometers away from the town of Bled. The walk through the trails on Vintgar is a mere 1.6 kilometers, with beautiful landscapes.

“The walk in Vintgar refreshes your mind. The Radovna River formed the Gorge, and we followed the river through calm, steady sections, enjoying the soft sounds. The tread of our boots on the damp ground, mostly. We didn’t speak much; it’s a place that compels you to hush, to be quiet inside. The river widened in one section deep into the trail, where a small crowd of individuals stack and balance stones on the banks. The many stacks of rocks, some almost a meter high, tell stories of concentration and calm the trail inspired in travelers.”

Postcard #4

The Vintgar Gorge walk doubles back to where it starts. We decide to stop at a local konoba, a restaurant, near the parking lot at the foot of the park. It was warm enough to eat outside, and we shared a simple salad of greens and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. That day’s roast went well with the local beer, Laško, and we mopped up the gravy with the homemade bread.

It’s true that travel to a new place makes the mundane sparkle. Eating, walking, coffee, roast, bread, cake…nothing to write home about, usually. It’s not the things we do that make travel remarkable, but how the things we see and do become new when we are open to delight.

Light Chaser Recommends:

Grand Hotel Toplice, Cesta svobode 12, 4260 Bled, Slovenia

Okarina restaurant (Mediterranean, international food)
Ljubljanska cesta 8, Bled


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