Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Lake From Heaven and a Train From Hell


Lake Bled is supposed to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. I’d say that’s an accurate observation. Walking around the lake, it felt like were in a Disney princess movie. There were swans, lily pads, and a castle perched up on the mountains.

Partway around the lake we stopped for some famous Bled Cream Cake [what a name]. In between two pieces of phyllo dough is a layer of vanilla cream and a layer of whipped cream. I thought it was pretty great. While we ate our breakfast, a swan provided some entertainment. It was stuck in a kiddy pool along the edge of the lake, and it couldn’t find it’s way out. It just swam back and forth, back and forth, stopping every once in a while to look over the edge or try to swim under the wall. It was pretty sad.

After breakfast we saw a sign advertising rental cars for $25 a day. Who wouldn’t take that offer? After winding our way up some pretty serious hills, we found the little, tiny, box-like rental car. After filling out a little bit of a paperwork we were on our way. It was a manual which meant I got to do all the driving!

We started with a visit to the small town of Radovljica. We had lunch at an old prison. I ordered grilled cheese, and I was expecting a sandwich, you know, a grilled cheese sandwich. Instead I got a few hunks of cheese that were grilled. Literal grilled cheese. Luckily, it was really good. Probably better than a sandwich. The restaurant also provided us a nice view of the mountains and hills. It looked like a scene from the Sound of Music.

After lunch we moseyed around town. We checked out the church, an art exhibit, and a store selling local produce. The produce store had barrels of mead that they sold by the liter.

[I thought this Waterloo Belgian beer sign was interesting because its tagline is "The beer of victory" when we in the US always refer to Waterloo as a last stand defeat sort of situation. Perspective!]

[I thought the town had an interesting coat of arms.]

[Mead barrels.]

[With our new found car freedom we visited a real supermarket and got a couple things to snack on.]

Wine here is being sold for 2 euro a liter!

Weird black chimney sweep candy.

I'm so glad Gremlins are still cool.

Our next goal was to visit Lake Bohinj. We didn’t have a GPS, so John was just giving me directions based on a paper map. It was going okay until we ended up on a pedestrian path. Well we didn’t know it was a pedestrian path at the time. As we drove down the dirt road, it got skinnier and skinnier. There were so many potholes in the ground, I’m surprised a tire didn’t pop off. I wanted to turn around, but John wouldn’t let me. He just kept reminding me not to slow down, so we wouldn't get stuck in any mud puddles. I don’t think we have any pictures of this because we were both too concerned for our safety.

Eventually we came upon a hiker man. John and I still can’t agree on exactly what he said, but the message was clear, we needed to turn around and take a different route. [I mean, the guy either said the path was impossible or impassible, so I'd say we pretty much agree.] Turning around was more difficult than it sounds. I had to back down a twisty turny, muddy path, with huge tree roots sticking out everywhere. I’m happy to say I didn’t crash and I only stalled once.

Once we reached a paved road again, the journey to Lake Bohinj was quick. Lake Bohinj is easily as beautiful as Lake Bled and the tourists haven’t found it yet, so I’d say it was a win. We had some ice cream and enjoyed the scenery. Nearby Lake Bohinj we also found a pretty magnificent waterfall.

[A roadside cheese salesman.]

We made it back to Bled with just enough time for a visit to the castle before our dinner reservations. The hike up the mountainside was long. When we finally made it to the top, we were met with an unfortunate $9 entrance fee (and that was the student price!) Once we got inside there wasn’t much to see except for a view of the lake. We decided we were done with castles for the rest of the trip.

[There's a little church on that island on the lake. I wonder if it was built there specifically so tourists would have to rent boats in order to go see it.]

We had our final Slovenian dinner at a restaurant along the shores of Lake Bled. I had buckwheat ravioli which I believe is a traditional Slovenian dish.

After dinner our hotel host gave us a ride to the train station, so we could catch the overnight train to Innsbruck, Austria.


Lydia stopped writing at this point because the day sort of ended in the sense that the clock hit midnight. Well this day went on much longer. We took a night train to Innsbruck, Austria and the plan was to sleep on the train and then just hit the ground running when we arrived, bright eyed and chipper.

Well the train was mostly full when we boarded but we were able to find one little compartment with only one girl sitting on the six seats available and settled in. We soon realized why this compartment was empty. The bright light inside went on and off, on and off the entire 7 hour journey, making it even harder to sleep.

We were doing our best to deal with that when this old Austrian couple entered and pretty much demanded that the seats next to the window were reserved for them. Ok. They were super loud and obnoxious. The old woman sat next to Lydia and kept touching her when she shifted in her chair, much to Lydia's annoyance. Relations deteriorated to the point that when they got up to go to the bathroom now and then I wouldn't move my legs and made them climb over me. It was like non-violent resistance. I'm a hero.

Longest train ride ever.

We finally arrive to Innsbruck, Austria very early in the morning. It's cold, we have our backpacks, and we briefly considered just waiting for things to open and then going about our day, but we eventually decided we should get a hotel and sleep a few hours else we'd be pretty unpleasant zombies all day.

The room had a nice view.

It was so close to breakfast that we stayed up a bit longer and ate before going to bed.

It was all pretty normal except for these weird spreads that I initially picked up thinking they were butter.

One was liver and the other was turkey. I'm glad they were free.

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