Our drive from Bad Kissingen to Slovenia, through Southern Germany and Austria was pretty easy going as we avoided motorways. Poki struggled up and down 3 mountain passes in Austria. The scenery was spectacular.
Dennis is concerned something is amiss with the gear box.
We arrived in Slovenia in the afternoon of 20th and camped outside Kranjska Gora. An alpine town and a major ski resort in winter.
The following morning we had a wander around Kranjska Gora before buying provisions for lunch and dinner and heading off for the capital city, Ljubljana. Arriving at lunch time we searched for parking. Following a car parking sign we turned into a central city car park, only to find a 2.1 meter height restriction. Poki is 2.4 meters. A bit of an upset ensued as we had to reverse out on to a busy road. Already vehicles were queuing up behind us to park.
Once we had extracted ourselves we headed in a different direction and came across of group of young police officers. Stopping and enquiring if they spoke English, we were greeted with friendly smiles and a definite affirmative. They couldn’t wait to practice their linguistic skills. We explained our predicament and asked where we could park. They directed us to Tivoli Park and even programmed the Sat-Nav for us.
After lunch in Poki we set off to explore Ljubljana. The old city is quite tiny. In fact Slovenia is tiny, with around 2 million inhabitants. Finding the tourist office, we requested a city map and advice on the most important sights to visit in an afternoon. The pink church, castle and the 3 main bridges over the Ljubljanica river. The Triple Bridge, Coblers Bridge and the Dragon Bridge.
We couldn’t miss the pink church. It dominated the main square. Ambling through the streets full of stalls selling tourist souvenirs and many restaurants and bars, all with seating outdoors beside the river, we made our way to the funicular railway which took us to the castle.
Very restored and rather commercialised with bars and restaurants we had a relatively speedy look around before heading back down. After checking out the bridges, we had some exotic flavoured ice creams before heading back to Poki.
Dennis is feeling relieved now as leaving Ljubljana and heading north, we are actually commencing our return journey. He’s concerned the gear box issue is getting worse!
We camped in a lovely rural camp site about 25 kms north of Ljubljana.
As we couldn’t check in to Vila Bled before 1500, we made a leisurely start. It had rained quite heavily during the night and I was concerned the tent might be swamped. It dawned warm and sunny so dried the tent out quickly.
We decided we would go to Lake Bohinj for lunch. To get there we had to drive through Bled town. The traffic jams were unbelievable. Fortunately our Sat- Nav found a way around via some tiny tracks. The queue in the opposite direction to the way we were travelling was horrendous. We couldn’t believe how touristy it seemed.
Reaching Lake Bohinj there was an unattractive area for parking. We decided to continue around the lake to look for a quiet place. Finding a rocky pathway which would enable us to park by the water, we carefully reversed our way down to the water’s edge. We did notice a sign post but couldn’t read the sign at the angle we reversed past it. We didn’t think it was important. Big mistake.
We had a paddle in the crystal clear water and then started to chat to a couple sitting on a bench behind Poki. The husband was German and his wife a Thai. He decided to go for a swim, Dennis was chatting to the Thai lady and I started to prepare lunch in Poki.
Suddenly the peace was broken by rather rotund police lady marching down the path towards us saying “This is VERY BAD”. It appears no parking is allowed in the National Park, where Lake Bohinj is located, except in designated parking areas. Dennis turned on the charm. We would just pack up and move. No chance. We had been reported and she had no option but to fine us 300 Euros.
Dennis claimed we had no cash. Would she like to handcuff him and take him off to the local jail? She did manage a laugh and now the fine had gone down to 160 Euros. Could we pay with a card? No, we would have to follow her back to Bohinj village to the ATM and give her cash. So, like naughty children, off we set behind her. In the end it cost us 80 Euros. A 50% discount for immediate payment. After handing over the cash she issued us with an official receipt from her hip mounted printer.
It had turned out to be rather an expensive lunch. We parked in the unattractive car park and ate our half prepared lunch. Now it had a rather sour taste. We were sorting out our clothes and packing a bag ready to check in to Vila Bled when a head popped through the open window asking the familiar refrain “who’s the Kiwi and who’s the Pom?”.
A lovely Aussie couple Wayne and Elizabeth. Fellow nomads “World Roamers” They have a huge purpose built 4 x 4 MAN truck. We spent over an hour chatting and discussing our lives and travels. Good to chat to such like minded fellow travellers.
Finally we set off for Vila Bled and 2 days of spoiling ourselves. Progressing down the driveway to the elegant edifice, I wondered how out of place Poki would look
In the car park. Plenty of Mercedes and Audis in the front, but we found a space around the back. No problem here, a complete mix of vehicles.
Vila Bled was the summer residence of Yugoslavia’s President Tito. In 1991/2 Yugoslavia broke up into 6 independent countries, Slovenia being one of them. The residence was used for hosting other heads of state and various dignitaries. Very understated elegance. Lovely staff. Laid back and not at all stuffy.
Our room was a delight. On the top (3rd floor) with probably the best view over the lake, from our balcony.
The island perfectly centred.
Unfortunately the restaurant was fully booked. We hastily booked a table for the following evening. The receptionist recommended a restaurant 5 minutes walk around the lake front, Sova, and booked us a table there. It proved to be very good. A lovely view over the lake from the first floor terrace, friendly staff and an excellent meal.
Next morning we made pigs of ourselves at breakfast on the terrace. A walk was very necessary. We set off around the lake towards Bled town. Today it was busy, but not excessively like yesterday. There must have been some sort of incident holding the traffic up then.
Passing other hotels we came across a forested track leading to the castle. This zig zagged up the slope which got progressively steeper. Turning to concrete steps, hundreds of them. By the time we reached the castle entrance I was gasping and sweating profusely. So much for thinking we were fit, after having recently cycled 600k’s!
After stopping to buy water and taking shots of the view we entered the museum area.
This was divided into rooms featuring different exhibits. I moved to a different room, leaving Dennis engrossed in some display. Going back to look for him, I couldn’t find him. I looked through the entire museum and still couldn’t locate him. After waiting outside in the shade for 15 minutes he still hadn’t appeared.
Had he abandoned me? Had he gone back to the hotel? I didn’t think he had so went down to the next level and sat on the wall by the exit waiting. I thought I’ll give him another 15 minutes and if he doesn’t appear I’ll go back to the hotel. I was just about to leave when he nonchalantly meandered down the path. He’d been watching a video!
After a siesta we ventured out again. This time to take rowing boat out on the lake. The man in charge of the boathouse had suggested we wait until later in the afternoon when the sun wasn’t so hot. It was starting to get a bit choppy but due to Dennis’s excellent rowing skills we reached the island in less than 15 minutes and without capsizing.
We had a wander around the island, it’s only tiny. Back in the boat and back to the boathouse. After helping 4 girls in trouble get back into their boat. There was lots of shrieking and they nearly went for an unintentional swim, until Dennis managed to steady the boat for them.
Dinner on the terrace was as elegant as expected. We mustn’t get too used to this. We have to go back to Poki tomorrow.