Bled and a few bottles of wine
Bled in Slovenia is one of those perfectly lovely locations that really needs to be visited to grasp just how amazing it really is. I know that's said about a lot of places and is almost cliche, but the town at the end of Lake Bled, the castle up on the cliff, and the small church on Bled Island in the center of the lake make this location something special.
We found a perfect little hotel in Villa Preseren right on the north-east corner of the lake that absolutely was perfect with its location and what it provided for breakfast. We would walk out the door of the hotel and could look up to see this amazing view of the castle -
Just off to the right of the castle, as just a short hill climb up from the hotel we were at is St. Martin's Parish Church, which on a late October afternoon is a perfect fall setting.
One of the most beautiful things about the city is that the lake has a simple path that you can walk around the lake. The views are amazing, and the late autumn stroll is wonderful as any we've even done - the lake has pockets of fishermen on holiday who set up a tent along the lake to spend their holidays fishing. Seriously, we talked to two guys from Scotland that we spending a week here to fish and although they had a hotel at least on of them would stay overnight at their fishing spot to secure the location...
Waling around the lake is an easy relaxing stroll, and right in the center is island with the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary. As you tour around you see the local boats waiting to load up and ferry people over to the island.
The church looks quaint and wonderful, you can hear the bells ringing from the island as you walk around the lake, apparently if you ring the church bell you get your wishes granted. The beauty of the slightly off season (we were there in October) made it nice in that there weren't the crowds. We never even actually made it over to the island, the walk was so nice and enjoyable we just decided to skip the boat trip and enjoy the island from the shore.
So we get into the town, immediately stroll around the lake and then wander into the old city center to find a place to eat. The old town is quaint and sweet, and within a few minutes we found a hundred year old bar/restaurant where we could stop in for a drink and a bite to eat.
And from there, one of our highlights to date, was the bled wine tasting that ran us through a sampling of seven of some of Slovenia's best wines.
The wine tasting really is worth it - just a great evening with an excellent host who really does know the local wines. And coming off of a great meal it was a great topper to the evening.
The next day we were back out to wander around the lake, and this time to also make the hike up to the castle and get a chance to look down over the city and the lake.
The hike up to the castle is fairly easy, and on a perfectly crisp fall day it was great weather to enjoy the climb up. Once there the is a little museum and some things to look at, but most of the time you just spend looking out over the castle walls at the views.
One of the additional benefits is that your entry ticket gives you some cash back if you buy something - either at the restaurant in the castle, in the gift shop, or at the small bar that they have setup near the main entrance. We enjoyed some nice local beers as we sat and just watched the boats on the lake paddle out to the church and back.
Our final night was much the same, we strolled about a third of the way around the lake to really take in the setting sun and then wandered back to the same restaurant we had gone to the previous night - yes the food was that good that we went back. We took advantage of the unusually warmer weather to sit outside on the patio for dinner, realizing that it would probably be one of the last days of the year that we would be able to do so...