The last day that we were in Ljubljana, the weather was especially European. About 50 degrees and raining. Not so great for walking around. So, we decided to break out the car and visit another castle.
Bled is a resort town about 45 minutes northwest of Ljubljana, situated on a glacial lake and surrounded by the Julian Alps. In the middle of the incredibly picturesque lake, the Assumption of Mary church sits on a small rocky island. It has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries, and was preceded by a pagan Slavic shrine on the same spot.
There are dozens of little boats lined up on the lake shore to take tourists to the island, however, the weather was so nasty that there were no takers. My husband desperately wanted to go “conquer the island” despite the weather, but I do not do open boats on choppy water in cold rain. Ever. Instead, we visited the the nicely renovated 11th century castle that overlooks the town, and enjoyed the cold rain up there.
Fortunately, Blejski grad is what I call a Shopping Castle, with nice warm little handicrafts shops tucked into various medieval nooks and crannies. We visited a paper making and print shop, a blacksmith, an herbarium, and even a wine shop manned by a garrulous “friar.” There was also a pretty good little museum, with information in English.
Back down in the town, we visited the Sava Hotel Bled to try a piece of the original kremna rezina, or cream cake. It was very good, especially with cappucino. Of course we had to take photos ↓ along with every other cold, wet tourist in the place. You’d think the waiters would just roll their eyes at this, but in fact, our waiter wanted to know if we liked the cake, and insisted on showing my husband the bronze cake slices displayed at the front of the restaurant marking milestones such as “10,000 pieces served” so he could take a photo of those. Gosh darn it these Slovenians are friendly.
Finally, to console my husband for not being able to go for a ride in the cool boat, I consented to walk over to the parish church at the end of town. This neo-Gothic church, built in 1905, was not so much to look at from the outside, but had some pretty interesting frescoes inside. Dating from the 1930s, they are in a Socialist Realist style, and look very much like Works Progress Administration artwork in the States. Some tourists might be disappointed, but by now, I’m happy to see any church that isn’t Baroque!
What a lovely country, despite the weather. I’ll be back!