Slovenia - April 2009


Easter and I start my quest to visit every country in South East Europe before I leave Munich. First on the list Slovenia. I didn't realise it was so close basically sitting between Austria and Italy. Only 6 hours by train from Munich. This would probably been less than 3 hours were it not a Slovenian train which stopped every couple of miles with each stop long enough for the driver to jump out and have a cigarette.

Ljubljana is a beautiful old city with a river running through the middle. Closer in look to Austria than how I'd expect a former Yugoslav city to look or feel. After dropping off my bags first thing I did was walk up to the castle which over looks the city. After 6 hours sitting on the train good to have a decent walk and the views once I got up there were worth it. View across the city to the hills and the snow topped mountains.

The river is lined with bars and restaurants which are great for lounging about in the sun, sipping cocktails, drinking the local brew (which like Munich is basically light or dark) or eating eating ice cream which seems to be the national pastime of Slovenians. Ljubljana has an Italian feel to it and not just the ice cream. Most of the restaurants serve pizza and pasta, they seem to drink more wine than beer and the way they prance around everyone seems to be in love with themselves. There are some great looking women about, much taller and thinner than the Bavarians but why do they have to dress like high-class hookers? Give me the natural look any time.

Went along to the Slovenian Museum of the 20th century. Swallowed up by Austria-Hungary, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, invaded by the Germans, taken over by Mussolini, celebrated liberation (picture above), aligned with Stalin, Tito-Stalin Split, economic powerhouse of Yugoslavia and independence.

Above one of the Dragons guarding the Dragon Bridge. These Dragons have now become the symbol of the city. Below the Hot Horse fast food shack. Hot Dogs don't contain dog (outside of South East Asia) but Hot Horse does what it says on the tin, and very tasty it is too!


Bled is about 55 kilometres from Ljubljana in North-Western Slovenia near the Austrian / Italian border at the foot of the Julian Alps and it is absolutely gorgeous.

A fairy tale castle sitting on a cliff over looking an emerald green mountain lake. In the lake a tiny island (the only one in Slovenia) with a little white church. The Church of Sv Marija Bozja.

On the lake traditional Bled Pletna boats row the tourists along the lake to the island. On the 4 mile path around the lake horses and carts full of tourists trot by.

All of this is surrounded by forested hills and snow capped mountains. This may sound like something written by the Bled Tourist Board but it's all true. I think it rivals Halong Bay as the most beautiful place I've ever visited.

I got up early and jumped on the bus from in front of the station €6.30 each way. About an hour and twenty minutes as it seems to stop every 10 minutes for non-existent new passengers. The guide books say that if you visit Slovenia then you must go to Bled. Their not wrong and I picked a great day to go. Clear blue skies, trees and flowers were budding and the winter snow still on the mountains.

First thing to do a steep climb up to the castle. It's real proper castle, towers, turrets and a moat. A small museum showing how the valley was carved by an Ice Age glacier. Evidence of ancient man and a history of the area through the ages. Quick wander, loads of photos and back down to the lake. The walk all the way around gives more and more great photo ops, the castle, the island and church, the mountains, amazing.

Down one end are lots of rowing clubs and grand stand. Wikipedia says this is a famous rowing lake and will hold the World Championships again in 2011. Even if you don't like rowing tune in just for the scenery!