Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Hi from Slovenia 21.8.11

Dober Dan (Hello) from Slovenia this time!! 
Slovenia is a small Eastern European Country which is centred within the borders of Italy, Austria, Hungary & Croatia.  This is our third night here in ‘Ribcev Laz’, which is a small village nestled alongside the gorgeous Lake Bohinj.  As we step out of our very nice “Four Star” Hotel we are about 10 metres from the Lake.  This is the life!!! 

We arrived at Lake Bohinj on Friday and after settling into our hotel, we wandered down to the Lake and went for a short swim.  Well, not sure if you can call my ‘effort’ a swim.  If slowly edging into the freezing cold water (whilst complaining about the cold with each step) and then standing still for fear that moving may stir the small warm patch (or less cold patch??) that I was standing in can be called swimming, then swimming it was!!!  Needless to say, it was very refreshing. 
That short swim (?) somehow seemed to create a monster appetite for us all (not sure how, but it did?), so that night we enjoyed the largest pizza I have ever seen.  And yes, that was a pizza each, not a shared one!!!  We all left a small piece behind which I am sure was more to save the embarrassment of actually being able to eat a pizza so large, rather than because we were too full!  I was simply just keeping pace with Melinda and Ros???
The next day, we headed off on a day trip to Lake Bled, the most well known and beautiful lake in Slovenia. The Lake has a small Island Church in the middle of it, which we had to catch a canopied rowing boat to get to it.  We then walked up a 99 step staircase which led to the Church.  Inside the church there was a 15th Century Wishing Bell hanging from a small tower.  Legend held that if you rang the bell to honour the Blessed virgin, you would have your wishes granted.  Well, I wasn’t going to miss out on this opportunity, so I pulled on the long rope and rang that bell long enough to make sure I squeezed in two wishes!!!  Will let you know at the end of my trip if they come true J.  Actually, it was pretty amazing as we could hear the bell ringing most of the day from wherever you were around the Lake. 

We then made our way to Bled Castle which was on a sheer cliff overlooking the Lake.  Just gorgeous views! 

Then we caught a little steam train (with the cutest little carriages) which drove us the 5 km’s around the lake.  Don’t worry after we had worked out which was the most picturesque side of the lake we then walked half way around it taking photos.  But we obviously had to reward ourselves with gelati at the end of our walk. I thought I should at least try and compare how Slovenia matched up with the gelati’s of Italy.  Disappointingly, it didn’t even come close!! 
Today we made more of an effort to work off our breakfast, which continues to be a main meal of at least 4 courses!!!  We decided to walk half way around Lake Bohinj and then up 1000 steps (well, that’s what it felt like) to get to a waterfall.  We worked out we walked about 10 km’s, and with all the photo stops, it took us 5 and a half hours!!!  The girls (Melinda & Ros…I am so blaming them), decided that again we should be rewarded for our efforts.  This time the reward was a triple chocolate/vanilla/nut Sundae!!!  I could so feel the cream just sliding down into my thighs!!!  

That actually ended up being our late lunch.  For afternoon tea, I found the snickers chocolate bar I had to buy to be able to use the toilet at the cafe near the waterfall. I almost gagged using the free port-a-loo at the lake side earlier today, so I would have paid anything to use a normal one. And obviously, the chocolate was a bonus!!  I tried to convince Mel & Ros that the snickers bar could really be considered to be a ‘health’ bar, due to the amount of nutritious crunchy nuts, but they weren’t so sure??
Now, winding back a little, the last time I wrote I was in Prague.  As I mentioned previously, I spent 4 nights in Prague with Ros.  We loved Prague!!  Our hotel was just a short walk to the old town square which was so full of character (and shops J). We caught up with Adriana over two mornings, where she guided us around the streets of Prague to see some of the main attractions (Prague Castle, The old Town Hall, Astronomical Clock, the Charles Bridge, numerous churches and much more).   Gosh, we got quite the work-out.  She was like a drill sergeant.  We almost had to run to keep pace with her.  But she was so lovely.  She even bought me a small book all about Prague.  Was great to see someone so proud of their city.

The rest of the time Ros and I wandered around photographing the beautiful coloured buildings and wandering through the shops.  Actually, we had no choice but to visit a number of shops, as it rained for half the time we were there.  They have no eaves on the buildings in Europe, so each time it rains, the only sensible place to shelter is actually in the shops!!  Especially when there was a huge billboard outside one of the lovely looking buildings which advertised that there were 200 shops within!!  Obviously giving us plenty of shopping entertainment to wait out the storm!!
Ros and I also thought it would be a lovely idea to go a dinner cruise to see the river view of all the beautiful sights.  Our booking included a free transport to the wharf and a lovely buffet meal.  All was going splendidly until again it started raining.  Initially we were thinking how lucky we were that we had positioned ourselves under an awning on the front deck of the boat.  Then the boat docked and we ran to the waiting minibus…to find that the free transport was only TO the boat, NOT back to the hotel.  What the???  We didn’t know where we were?? HHmmm…stranded on a wharf, somewhere in Prague, in the rain, with no umbrellas!!!  That about covered it!!  We had to run to a building where we saw others sheltering, then ask for directions to work out where we were (lucky I had a small map with me) then walk all the way back to the hotel in the rain.  We very quickly understood why this dinner cruise was a little cheaper than the others!!
Then it was time for Ros and I to catch a train to Vienna (Austria) to meet up with Melinda.  We spent 3 nights in gorgeous Vienna.  We certainly made the most of our first day together.  After a “power breakfast” which even out-did the breakfast offered in Prague, we headed off at 8am to the Markets.  After a little shop of one small purchase (a delightful little pink scarf which I am sure will get a lot of use in Cairns??), we then headed to the Cathedral.  Thankfully for the ‘power’ breakfast as we had to climb 300 steps to get to the top tower of the Cathedral!!  We then caught the underground train and visited a number of famous sights (Hundert Wasser coloured buildings & Schross Scholobrunn Palace and gardens). 

And after what felt like 15km’s of walking around the streets of Vienna, we made it back to our hotel and rushed to get ready to go and see the Vienna Mozart Orchestra.  Was quite amazing as everyone in the Orchestra was dressed in historical costumes.  Melinda loved it.  Ros and I decided that Opera & classical music wasn’t quite our thing, but the experience was worth the small fortune we paid to go and see it.
The next day we saw the Lipizzaner horses in training (the famous white horses that put on shows of classical horsemanship).   They were the most gorgeous creatures! And then it was decided that due to our extensive work-out the previous day, we would treat ourselves to a leisurely day of shopping! 
Now, Carmelina had emailed me to explain that it was the tourist thing to do to attend one of Vienna’s famous Cafés to taste their famous cakes.  Well, at the slight mention of this, Ros and Melinda’s eyes lit up and we were seated in Mozart’s Café ordering chocolate cake....before I even finished the sentence!!! 

And then to complete a successful day of shopping (which means we all bought something), we ended the evening with a horse and carriage ride around the streets of Vienna.  Just beautiful!!

And that brings me to the end of this email.  Tomorrow we head to Ljubljana, which is the Capital of Slovenia. 
Oh, just one last thing of note.  Melinda and Ros have decided to travel with backpacks for this trip.  Ros arrived in Prague with 11.9 kg’s.  Melinda arrived in Vienna with 9.6 kg’s.  When I flew from Florence to Prague my suitcase weighed in at 22.5kg’s (after having now left a small (?) bag of things in both Sienna & Rome…which I need to collect before flying out of Italy in October)!!!  I may have to confine my purchases to small (shiney?) items or soon I will have to ship home a small crate!!! Oh dear…..
Hope all is well in your corner of the World.
Love, Joy xxxxxxx

1 comment:

Merry said...

Oh wow...so many amazing photos Joy. I can see that Colin and I will have to add this place to our one day list to travel too. :-)