After our wedding in Cornwall, England three months ago, we chose to go on a ‘mini-honeymoon’ for five days in a cottage about 30 miles down the road – adventurous or what!
Our thought was that we would be so exhausted from the build-up to the wedding and the day itself that we wouldn’t have much energy to explore somewhere new.
Instead, we made an agreement that we would have a proper holiday a few months down the line where we could throw ourselves into a real adventure.
So, where to go?
Being an international couple ourselves (one from Ecuador, the other from the U.K.), we are comparatively well travelled and are always on the lookout for new places and experiences.
We could have gone anywhere!
But places like New Zealand, French Polynesia, Kenya and Canada were all discussed and then discarded.
Instead, we chose somewhere much closer to home, Croatia.
You see, every time we were chatting to friends about places we were keen to visit and happened to mention Croatia, people literally could not contain themselves.
It was like a bell to Pavlov’s dog:
“It’s amazing, you have to go!”
“The water, it’s unreal – make sure you go snorkelling.”
“It’s like a better version of Italy and Spain combined into one.”
“Until you’ve been to Dubrovnik, you haven’t lived.”
Whilst everyone acknowledged that other destinations were absolutely worth visiting too, we just couldn’t shake off the unbridled enthusiasm everyone showed when talking about their time in Croatia.
Were the Croatian tourism board paying our friends?!
Either way, by now we would have felt guilty for going anywhere else other than Croatia.
So we planned an eight day road trip – in our opinion almost always the best way to get a good overview of a country.
From there we would rent a car and head south, stopping at Krka National Park, Sibenik, Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik.
‘Why Slovenia?’ I hear you cry!
Great question, thanks.
The second reason is that Slovenia is massively underrated…
Lake Bled, somewhere we’d actually been before, is surely one of the top ten most beautiful vistas on planet earth.
The ancient whitewash monastery on a small island in the middle of a beautiful turquoise lake, in front of a backdrop of stunning mountains, is a pretty incredible combination.
And even in the height of summer it’s not really that touristy – although that will probably change as word spreads.
A walk around the lake is about three miles in total and was the perfect way to start our holiday.
At the half way point, we hired a small rowing boat and rowed across to the monastery, before enjoying a dinner at one of the many (alpine in feel) restaurants in the old town.
In complete honesty, 48 hours is about all you need to properly explore Lake Bled.
Once you’ve done the lake walk, other options include the awesome gorge walk which feeds the lake, a visit to the ancient castle overlooking the lake, or some of the adventure sports on offer at the region’s white water rivers.
But the real gem in the Lake Bled crown is trekking up the mountain overlooking the lake to enjoy the stunning view from on high.
It’s a pretty hard climb, but that, coupled with the fact that it’s very badly signposted, means it’s virtually empty of tourists, particularly if you manage it in the morning.
A fairly new addition to Lake Bled is the (possibly a little unsafe but still incredible) toboggan run and activity park on one of the mountain slopes next to the lake.
The toboggan run is about 500 metres long and steep, snaking its way down to the water.
The best bit, you control your speed as the toboggan is attached to a rail with a simple brake or go system.
Genius. If that’s not for you, the chairlift up the mountain to the top of the toboggan run provides another great view of the lake, whilst the tubing runs are much shorter and more gentle.
Whilst Lake Bled is an increasingly popular destination, it’s still easy to stay for a good price.
We drove straight from Ljubljana airport to the Lake which only takes around 20 minutes on a good run, although buses run fairly regularly from Ljubljana coach station too.
Most people simply overlook Slovenia, in favour of its ‘sexier’ southern cousin, Croatia, but these people do so to their own loss.
Slovenia is a beautiful little country, and Lake Bled is the perfect introduction if you do choose to visit.
To be continued…