We had agreed on an early start in order to spend the bulk of the day at Lake Bohinj, but honestly being on holiday and getting up at 7 AM felt like hell so in a welcome change from the norm I slept in till 7:30 AM whilst Anne-So got ready.
Around a quarter past eight we popped down to the basement for the breakfast buffet (don’t worry, the other two hotels on this trip did feature breakfast buffets but they were not in the basement). The breakfast room was near enough empty (woohoo!) and we were warmly welcomed and offered made to order egg dishes if we wanted them. I can’t say that the buffet was excellent quality but then I’ve been lucky enough to have been royally spoilt over the years. That said, there was a solid selection of hot and cold food, fruit juice and most importantly a coffee machine!
After breakfast we made the short walk to Bled Bus Station to get our connection to Bohinj. It was a bargain 4 €10 each one way. There was a good system set up where a multilingual person sold all us tourists tickets before we got on the bus, saving the not so multilingual bus drivers a lot of work. Our bus was a little late, very busy and thankfully well air conditioned. The views from the tinted windows were pretty decent as well; mountains, railway lines (train geek alert) and little villages. We got off a little later than the crowds (well, the majority of the bus is a better description, but crowds sounds more impressive) who headed straight for the lake as a few stops down the road we had a cunning plan to enact!
At the cross roads with the funny sign (It says ‘Slap Savica’ I couldn’t help myself) we headed slightly away from the lake and up hill. Five minutes later we’d arrived. Yes, we were taking the cable car up the mountain side to Vogel Ski Centre. However, it would’t be us without some minor drama… First of all the cable car ride wasn’t super cheap at 24€ return per person and secondly it did not help that we didn’t double check our tickets. It helped even less that the lady at the ticket office seemed to have taken a particular disliking to us and gave one of our two tickets to the group behind us (we worked this out as they stated they had an extra ticket) and then completely denied it. We all make mistakes and luckily on this occasion two wrongs and one nice tour group (yes, they do exist!) made a right and we were luckily reunited with our missing ticket as the cable car was about to depart.
loves loathes cable car rides and heights so we enjoyed a joyous ride up the mountain side with the pain of finger nails digging into my hand as a constant reminder. One of us at least was able to marvel at the beautiful view below. Things got even better once we escaped our capsule as there was a wonderful viewing platform at the mountain top. I tried my trusty NEX, I tired my wide angle lens and even my poor old phone and even then I couldn’t do that view justice. Looking down on the lake, along the valley and across the mountains was worth the drama, the arguments and the now subsiding pain in my hand.
For the next few hours we enjoyed the mountain air, mountain walking, the most beautiful mountain cows, mountain hens and apparently a the most amazing mountain pig you ever did see! We took loads of silly photos that are not fit and proper on a serious travel blog such as this! A word to the wise, whilst you don’t need any fancy walking poles or hiking boots to tread the mountain paths, a pair of trainers with a decent grip are a must as the gravel paths are steep and slippery making it easy to loose your balance.
I persuaded Anne-So to take the chairlift down, in hindsight I’m still in two minds about the quality of my idea. On the plus side it definitely helped Anne-So overcome her fear of heights. On the downside there’s nothing worse than seeing someone you love suffering from a full blown anxiety attack in a space where once you are on you cannot get off without killing yourself! To put it mildly for at least the first half of our chairlift ride Anne-So was petrified and I thought she was going to hyper ventilate into a full blown panic attack. The marks from my hands have only just faded. That being said it was a smooth ride and a beautiful way to enjoy the mountain scenery if you can keep your eyes open! It’s also a heck of a lot easier to get off these things when you’re not wearing skis!
It was now lunch time, that cool mountain air and mountain ‘hike’ had left a hole in my belly and being captive on the mountainside we had a choice of – ‘tourist trap’ place by the chair lift exit or ‘tourist trap’ place by the chair lift entrance! We ended up at Chalet Merjasec which was closer to the cable car. At least that’s what we thought! Whilst the service was a touch brusk we were treated to huge portions of food at a very reasonable price. Anne-So ordered the sausage with buckwheat mush and sauerkraut and I chose Wild Boar Stew with Polenta. We enjoyed our beverages of choice as usual, with me going for an ice cold beer. I have to say our meal was very tasty and noticeably cheaper and quite possibly better quality than the previous days lunch. Unfortunately during our meal I was struck with a horrible bout of Bohinj Belly and if you like making jokes about my stew resembling my diarrhoea then now’s your chance!
I’d like to say I enjoyed the cable car ride down, taking in my last glimpse of the wonderful views but that would be a lie. I had one thing on my mind, being first off the cable car and first to the bathroom. Luckily we were near the door and I and made a dash for the loo. Whilst I’m not a big fan for paid for public toilets at restaurants/tourist attractions, especially those with faulty locks on the door that are not particularly clean, this was the best 50 Euro cents I’ve ever spent!
Once I’d relieved myself in anger for the last time that day – further movements during the day were not of the involuntary kind, we were able to walk the lake. And what a stunningly beautiful place Lake Bohinj was! If Bled is where the cool kids hang out for a stroll or a drink or five, Bohinj is where people come to camp and soak up the sun. We followed the Fairy Trail past the battalion of tents, stamping our hands at the various Fairy Trail checkpoints like the overgrown kids we are. There are a few caveats in that a parts of the walking path around the lake are not in great shape. I would imagine it would be significantly worse if you were going by bike, with bits of the lakeside bumpy in places with rocks, tree roots, a dry river bed, skinny dippers young and old and the searing hot sun.
It was a great walk and exhausted we stopped for drink at possibly the worst place I can ever imagine, but they had cold drinks, shade and aircon which made up for the awful slow service, flies and appalling atmosphere. That Pepsi Max was just perfect.
It was time to head back to Bled. Finding the bus stop was easy enough. A similar ticketing system operated to Bled Bus Station where tickets were purchased before getting on the bus. Time ticked on and the queue got bigger and bigger. Some of the hotel hoppers and park and rides were filled to the brim, but the folks kept on coming and coming. In the end our bus was 15 minutes late and annoyingly for those of us that had arrived on time, they opened the rear doors letting all the late comers on first. The bus was very crowded and thanks to Anne-So’s quick thinking we were lucky to both have a seat. At least the bus was cheap, the views pleasant and time passed quickly. Our company was some backpacking kids talking boyfriends, girlfriends and drinking, what more could we want. At least they were old enough not to mirror our famous ride on the BO bus in Ardeche (yuck)!
After getting off the bus we retreated to the hotel not before our first encounter with our new brass band Orange Friends from Copenhagen. We then enjoyed a well earned rest and much needed shower.
After a good rest it was dinner time! Our first attempt was Penzion Berc (Sounds so funny in French, but what the heck), it looked good and was right next to our hotel but we failed as it was all booked up for the night. In the end we followed that Bled Blog and our instincts and ended up at Restaurant Babji zob near the lake. I have to say it was a pretty decent choice and we were lucky to get a table almost straight away. The service was friendly though 100% on holiday time (perhaps they were a person short, at least that was how it felt). We started with a delicious bottle of Slovenian white wine, perfect as a cooler on any summers day. Not feeling massively hungry we skipped starters. I chose the “Chicken Breasts Wrapped In Prosciutto, Filled with Spinach, Dried Tomato and Feta Cheese with Spiced Roasted Potatoes” and Anne-So picked the “FuŽi with Smoked Salmon and Smoked Cheese”. Both portions were humongous and beautifully presented. This was definitely better than your average trap by the lake, it was a perfect summer holiday meal. Somehow we cleared our plates and of course no trip to Bled is complete without a slice of that famous cream cake. Although the photo doesn’t quite do it justice the portion was easily big enough for two. It was a good job we shared!
Whilst we finishing off our wine we noticed a flash in the sky and the far away clap of thunder. No rush we thought, just a few minutes walk back if it starts to rain. By the time we’d polished off the bottle the flashes had become a touch more frequent and rumbles a little closer. We requested the bill and prepared to head home as quickly as possible. We settled up as the first drops of rain fell from the sky. The wind had really begun to whip up at this point but with so many folk sat calmly outside, beers in hand we didn’t really worry too much. About half way back to the hotel the wind had more than just whipped up and some of the bars were closing up. The rain had also got a touch heavier and those rumbles and flashes felt ever closer. Despite this we still felt safe being just about five minutes from our hotel.
Those five minutes turned out to be one of the longest five minutes of our lives. The rain poured, the thunder roared behind us, the lightning filled the sky and we were stuck outside with no shelter as the howling wind blew the torrential rain this way and that. With 4 minutes and 30 seconds walk to go things had moved on from a nice spot of summer rain, the calm before the storm had turned into a disaster. We were soon soaked to the skin and if I’m being honest a touch scared. After about 5 minutes that felt like half an hour we decided to make a run for it. I’m not sure if this was a mistake or not but as we stood petrified by our bedroom window watching flash after flash it was probably the right choice. Strangely enough I really felt like a hot shower. After a beautiful day we’d not forget it was time for a sleep as tomorrow we were back on the road!