enchanting slovenia

August 18, 2009 at 3:14 pm 8 comments



our tour of eastern europe ended in lake bled, slovenia where we stayed for two days and two nights. it’s an enchanting mountain resort town. it used to be the residence of the yugoslavian royal family in the old days. it’s known for its beautiful scenery that features a lake with a small island in the middle.

we left rab island, croatia early in the morning. after a few hours drive, we crossed the border in jelšane, slovenia. as with other countries in europe, no visa was required for people visiting from the u.s. however, we were asked to get off the bus, fall in line, and present our passports at the border patrol counter.

slovenia is a country the size of new jersey with a population of 2 million people. although it’s the smallest among the countries that we had visited, it has the strongest economy so much so that it has already adopted the euro currency.

before proceeding to lake bled, we visited ljubljana, the capital of slovenia. we found it to be a modern city complete with western amenities.



one exception was the local mcdonald’s. around the world, this fast-food chain with its trademark golden arc has been home away from home for homesick americans if not only for its food but for its restrooms as well. there’s nothing redeeming in its restrooms in ljubljana. they’re portable toilets similar to those found in construction sites and camping grounds. they’re dirty and smell so bad that only the desperate could find relief there.

we spent four hours wandering around the city’s old town center.



we saw a parked car with the sign that reads, “war does not determine who is right. it determines who is left.” slovenes are mostly anti-war.




we walked along the ljubljanica river lined up with restaurants and shops selling souvenirs. we visited an open market selling produce and other stuff. among the landmarks that caught our interest were the tromostovje bridge crossing over the ljubljanica river, statue of poet’s france prešerene, tivoli park, st. mary’s church, and the national and university library. we could have explored more had it not rain hard.

lake bled is very touristy in terms of the number of tourists visiting the place, but it has so much natural beauty to make up for the crowd.



wherever you go, you’d find yourself surrounded by a postcard perfect view.



the summer residence of the late president tito. it’s now an hotel.

the highlight of our stay in lake bled was the visit to the island in the lake.



it’s a half hour ride by boat paddled by an oarsman. while on the way, we were entertained by an young accordion player playing traditional slovenian music.



from the dock, we climbed the 98-step stairway leading to the baroque church of the assumption of mary built in the 17th century. the church has been a popular place for weddings and each groom is bound by tradition to carry his bride up these steps. incidentally, a couple in our tour stayed behind after the tour ended to attend the wedding of a relative from the states who decided to be married here.



at the top of the steps, the panoramic view of the lake and the surrounding mountains and forests was simply magical. it was like seeing a piece of heaven.



inside the church, you’d see images of the madonna that bear resemblance to empress maria theresa who once ruled slovenia. coincidence? your guess is as good as mine.

before the altar, you’d find a rope attached to the church bell. it’s a wishing bell. if you make a wish and ring it 3 times, it’s said, your wish will come true. i rang it as instructed, but darn, i forgot to make a wish.

a farewell dinner was held on our last night in lake bled. over cocktails and drinks, we recalled the places that we had visited and the fun and the times that we had shared.

the tour had provided invaluable insight into the food and culture different from our own. it was further enriched by our local guides who shared personal stories about life under the communist rule and its eventual fall 20 years ago.

it was such a great group of people. for a moment in time, we’d bonded and shared our lives together. i’d miss them dearly.

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Entry filed under: Blogroll, travel, vacation. Tags: , , , , .

croatia on my mind The Lady on the Train

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sarah  |  August 18, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    kainggit naman ang adventures mo!

    Reply
    • 2. plaridel  |  August 19, 2009 at 10:32 pm

      sarah:

      talaga yatang ganyan ang may dugong pinoy. mahilig gumala. kung saan saan nagpupunta.

      Reply
  • 3. fortuitous faery  |  August 18, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    what an interesting name…”bled.”

    funny how mcdonald’s can be both a comforting sight in a foreign land and something that’s simply out-of-place. you know what i mean? 😛

    Reply
    • 4. plaridel  |  August 19, 2009 at 10:35 pm

      fortuitous faery:

      i remember our local guide in budapest saying that on mcdonald’s first day of opening in their city, the lines went down several blocks. to them, still living under communist rule, the hamburger represented the west. it gave them a taste of freedom and democracy.

      Reply
  • 5. Rob Layton  |  August 25, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    It’s so cool that you’re still blogging. It’s really hard for me because I just lose motivation, but you’re writing is so inspiring. I’m also really glad that you’re taking photos, now. You’re really expanding your range as a blogger, and I appreciate it as one of your fans.

    Reply
    • 6. plaridel  |  August 26, 2009 at 8:07 am

      rob:

      thanks for the compliments. if i’ve got pictures, that will help tell the story, i’ll use them..

      Reply
  • 7. Bb  |  November 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Ah… tourists.

    1) Slovenia is in CENTRAL Europe (East begins with Hungary)

    2) The adoption of the Euro is not an indicator of a country’s economic stability (check Romania for example). Even before the stock crash in ’08, a lot of people were jobless and worked for minimal wages (€600 – €800, some workers even received paychecks of €200/€300). After the crisis, the country went to hell having liquidated most of the national companies with long traditions. For example, in the north-eastern part of Slovenia, 20 – 25% of the population does not have a job and the 30% that do work for minimal wages.

    Strong economy? Yea, I bet…

    3) The only thing “western” in Ljubljana is McDonald’s and even they have modern toilets on the first floor. They had some major problems with high pressure that damaged the pipes from July – August (if I remember correctly) and because of some pathetic customers who threatened to sue McD ’cause they couldn’t take a dump, the management borrowed the portables off some construction company.

    4) Slovenians, anti-war…? “Left” in this particular context means that you’re a communist because some slovene idiots with IQ below 10 still can’t give it a rest with the “horrors” of communism. Most slovenes, especially educated people and scholars, are disappointed with the so-called “democracy” because a person is no longer treated and seen as human but as a social security number.

    5) Prešeren, not Prešerne

    Things aren’t always as they seem, I guess..

    Reply
  • 8. plaridel  |  November 9, 2009 at 10:08 am

    bb:

    živjo! thank you for your comments. i truly enjoyed my short stay in slovenia and hope that i can visit it again in the near future.

    Reply

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