We were staying near Bled today so we had a more leisurely morning. After breakfast we walked to St. Martin Church. It is a simple building with beautiful ornamentation built around 1905, one of a series of churches that have stood on the site since the year 1000. We spent some time looking at the beautiful artwork and took some time to pray.
We joined the group afterwards to go up to Bled castle, the castle perched on cliff above the lake. This is the oldest Slovenian castle, originally built for a bishop in 1011, and eventually seized by Napoleon. Today there is a museum there but the real draw is for the views.
From there we embarked on boats to go to Bled Island. There are no motorboats allowed on the lake so we were rowed there. The island has only a small picturesque 17th century church there dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, built on the foundations of a temple to Venus. It is a popular chapel for weddings and the custom is that the groom carry the bride up the 99 steps up to the chapel. There is a rope to the bells in the church tower that hangs in the center of the church. It is said that if a person pulls the rope (once) and the bells ring three times the puller will get his wish. The island with the castle is the centerpiece of Bled.
We then went to Bohinj, a nation park situated around a large glacial lake near the Julian Alps. It is a hub for all sorts of recreation. The views of the lakes and the mountains were worth the trip. We also visited a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist with frescos from the 14th century, the oldest frescos in Slovenia. There was also a monument dedicated to the team of climbers who first climbed Mt. Triglav, Slovenia’s highest peak. The monument has one of the figures pointing to the peak, visible from the monument. After walking about we tried the famous local dessert, a cream cake. It was good.
We took a scenic ride back to the hotel, the bus driver stringing the bus through narrow streets of some villages. We are impressed by the orderliness of the villages, the good repair of the houses, and the attention to the gardens of the houses, all which seem to have flower boxes overflowing with all sorts of flowers. The other thing, which has become a joke to us, is that we see so few Slovenian visible as we drive through the towns. When we arrived in Slovenia we only counted eight Slovenians in the first three towns.
After returning to the hotel the two of us took the 3.5 mile walk around lake Bled. We encountered people of all ages, bikers, hikers, backpackers, swimmers, and some of our travel companions stretching our legs after so many hours on the bus.
Tomorrow we leave to go to Venice. This ends this leg of the tour but begins our time in Italy.