The forecast for our two days in Bled was rather bleak – max temp of 15 degrees, rain and thunderstorms. In contrast to the forecast we received a warm welcome from Jani at Jazz Hostel, one of the best we’ve ever stayed in. He was full of enthusiasm, energy and passion for the local area, a recurring theme in the Slovenians we had met so far. After our VIP welcome, upgrade to a large family room (more hotel than hostel like), refuelling with an enormous pizza and armed with Jani’s recommendations we set off to explore.
The path around the lake was easy to follow and offered uninterrupted views across the lake and of the island with the stunning mountain backdrop. More than halfway round we took a detour, as suggested by our host, and hiked up a steep climb to Mount Osojnica where we were rewarded with spectacular views back down across the lake.
With the sun peaking out from behind the clouds the emerald lake sparkled and we enjoyed taking turns posing for photos with a few Japanese hikers.
We pushed on to the higher viewpoint which was worth it as we had this view all to ourselves. Back down at the lake, the sun had disappeared and the clouds were getting darker. About five minutes out from our afternoon tea spot the heavens opened and as the fisherman retreated under their tents, we hurried on to the Grand Hotel Toplice.
And grand it certainly was! We retreated inside rather worse for wear after our steep climb and short drenching. The doorman was not phased by these two drowned rats and showed us to the plush dining area with floor to ceiling windows offering a lovely view out to the lake and the rain. We warmed up with coffee and a large piece of the famous Bled Cream Cake –
akin to a vanilla slice but with a bonus layer of whipped cream between the custard and top pastry layer. Absolutely devine..
That evening we took advantage of the meticulously clean, well equipped hostel kitchen (honestly, they even had sharp knives!) and eased into the backpackers lifestyle in making our own dinner – couscous and vegetables: healthy, nutritious and cheap!
Jani warned us that the weather was likely to worsen on our second day so it may be wise to consider spending the day at the local spa rather than trekking out to the gorge. Fortunately the sky seemed to have rained itself out over night and although a little overcast we thought it looked fine for the 3 hour round walk to the Vintgar Gorge. We walked out along the road passing through small, pretty Zasip, with houses with lovingly tended veggie patches bursting with fresh produce and cute window boxes bearing colourful flowers. We enjoyed our sandwiches at St Katherine’s church at the top of a steep hill with a view back over the village. It wasn’t much further down through a forest to start of the trail through the gorge. We followed the 1600m wooden walkway which criss crossed over the river which whooshed down a number of waterfalls, through rapids and occasionally settled in pools where we spotted some large fish.
Best of all, we hardly met any other people along the way. On Jani’s advice we’d set off after 12 and thereby avoided the crowds and tourist buses, and somehow, also the forecast rain and storms! Good British theory of carrying an umbrella all the way round to ward off the weather..