Skofja Loka, Lake Bled, Heiligenblut
113 days away
158 miles / 254 km since last post
6,332 miles / 10,190 km total
We left Ljubljana on Wednesday morning, driving west. We took a brief drive through Skofja Loka along the way, where we also made a stop for lunch. The scenery has certainly become more dramatic through this area of Slovenia - lots of beautiful countryside, rolling hills and the odd mountain in the distance.
After quite a long drive we made it to Lake Bled. As we arrived late in the afternoon we didn't do anything for the rest of the evening other than settle in to our campsite. It's a very big site, with clean facilities. They had obviously been experiencing some wet weather in the days prior to our arrival, as some of the pitches were quite muddy. We tried one and the front wheels started to skid a little. Thinking it wasn't worth the risk of getting bogged down, we instead took a pitch which was right at the front of the site on some gravel.
On Thursday we decided to head out on the bikes for a ride around the lake. We had heard that Lake Bled was supposed to be nice, but we were still quite surprised at how lovely it was. It is a really big lake, containing an island in the centre with a church. Overlooking the lake from a high cliff is Bled Castle, and the lake is surrounded by hundreds of trees and paths. The great thing is that the walking path follows the circumference of the lake the whole way around, so it made for a great bike ride. The weather was fine and dry, but it has definitely started to feel like Autumn. Riding on the bikes kept us nice and warm, but I think we should have worn some gloves as we really felt the cold air on our hands.
I can imagine that in the summer a place like this would get very busy. I'm also sure that our site would have been a much busier a month or so ago. Despite it not being so warm now, I think we were both quite happy to be here in October when the main season is over, as it felt lovely and quiet.
We spotted a Pizzeria along our cycle and decided to pop in for lunch. It turned out to be a great idea, the pizzas were good and the local draft beer even better! Feeling a little weighed down after a big lunch, we finished off what remained of our cycle around the lake and headed back to the motorhome for a nap!
On Friday morning the sun made a welcome return, and we headed out on the bikes once again. This time taking a ride up to the Castle. Well, we rode about as far as the bottom of the hill road that leads up to the castle, then slowly pushed our bikes up the rest of the way - it was very steep. A little sweaty, we made it to the top only to find that you needed to pay to get in the main castle entrance, although this wasn't completely unexpected. Stu spotted a free trail which took us around the side of the castle to another lookout - and this made our steep journey all worth it. The view was amazing over Lake Bled and beyond, but it's pointless me describing in words so I will let the photos do the talking.
As we rode back down the steep road, we just happened to notice a pizzeria at the bottom. Stu had a brief look inside but said it didn't look particularly inviting, so we decided to head back to the same place we went for lunch yesterday.
We had a lazy day staying at the campsite on Saturday. We had considered setting off, but the next place on our itinerary is the Grossglockner Pass in Austria. This is a drive which takes you along Austria's highest mountain range, and therefore it really requires some clear weather to make the most of it. We had checked the weather forecast for the coming days and it wasn't looking clear until Monday or Tuesday at least. So it meant no rush to get there, and afforded us a rest day.
On Sunday we did finally leave Lake Bled, taking in the last few views of it as we drove out. It wasn't long from here, heading west, that we crossed over into Austria once again. Another vignette was purchased for our journey (€8.60 for 10 days), and we made our way to a place called Heiligenblut - a village just at the base of where the Grossglockner pass starts. The whole drive, from leaving Lake Bled in Slovenia to Heiligenblut in Austria was great. The scenery was stunning - rolling green hills, little houses dotted about on the high hillsides, misty mountains, winding roads. This is Austria as I imagined it, really beautiful.
It was quite a long drive getting us to our rest stop for the night. Beautifully situated in a valley, with great views of the mountains and the village on the hillside above us. There were hardly any other campers here - nice and peaceful. Although there is normally a charge for the use of the internet, they very kindly gave us a free voucher to use it for an hour. Their WiFi aerial wasn't working very well however, so we had to make use of it inside the restaurant. This wasn't such a bad thing as it was a nice enough place and meant we could enjoy a local beer from the bar. It also gave us the chance to have a catch up on Skype with my brother Mark and my lovely nieces.
On Monday we had hoped that the weather would have cleared a little for a drive along the Grossglockner Pass, but it was still very foggy. Instead we went on a nice walk around the village and made the most of the lovely scenery here. We stopped at the only open restaurant for lunch, sadly with people smoking inside. It is amazing how just a small amount of cigarette smoke can stay in your clothes. How lucky we are that smoking inside is banned in Australia and the UK.
So, one more night in the foothills of the mountains. Tomorrow morning looks partly sunny, so an early night and an early start tomorrow for the pass.
Games Without Frontiers
The Beta Band