My friend,
Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well
tonight. At three tomorrow the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place
on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and
will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a
happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.
Your friend,

I like this line from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. So polite. So ominous. Anyway, BLED has nothing to do with Dracula. Except that he might have liked the name.  Anyway, this is a travel story, which begins when I left Vienna for the fairytale wilds of Slovenia (pictured on the header of my blog)….

There comes a point when you get sick of looking at Famous Buildings, and at this point, I abandon Vienna and head for Bled in Slovenia.  The start of this trip isn’t exactly auspicious: there’s a huge poo blocking the train toilet, and the elderly lady opposite has for some reason decided to sit with her enormous thighs open almost to the crotch, displaying record-breaking swathes of cellulite.

In the train on the way to Slovenia

You know when you’ve left Austria for Slovenia.  In Austria, the mountains are gorgeous, Sound of Music affairs, all the farms look like they’ve come off a kids’ farm set, and all the villages could win tidy towns competitions.  As soon as you cross the border, the woods get wilder and messier, the train tracks are lined with market gardens, and the houses look more Wicked Witch than Goldilocks.

Now we're in Slovenia!

Slovenia is the most incredibly beautiful place I’ve ever been.  How beautiful, you can see from my header bar, which is actually a photo I took of the Vintgar Gorge.  My hostel (Jakelj in Selo)  is half rubble – the owner was renovating – but HE is just as sweet as he could be (he shuttles you around, and offers you strong drink for free!).  Funnily enough, he used to be a jackaroo in outback Australia!

On the first day I go for a ride up into the mountains, with a guide, to visit some orphan brown bears who were rescued as cubs.  Apparently there are lots more in the forest.  We pass a field full of young horses, which all gallop down to the fence to see what’s new, as horses do.  “Wow, they’re beautiful!” I exclaim gushingly. “Uh huh. They’re being bred for meat,” replies my guide matter of factly. “They’re at their tastiest at about eight months.’  I later check this against a menu in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, and there it is ‘Braised Foal’.  Ms M comments later that this is no worse than eating cows, although no better – and I agree, reluctantly (neither of us eats cows either, as a rule).

horse riding!

The hostel has free bikes so me and a Dutch fraud lawyer set off towards the town of Bled.  On the way there’s a statue of a Slovenian guy with his hands tied behind his back, about to be shot, and underneath a list of all the people from the area who were killed by the Nazis.  It’s very moving.

Resistance fighter-dead

We cycle to Vintgar Gorge, where you walk along beside the river to the 26 metre Sum waterfall, and then back.  The river is crystal clear and oddly green, with coca-cola commercial grade waterfalls and HUGE fishes swimming in the depths, all rushing downstream (not the fish though) at an incredible volume.  Here’s my take (cheap and easy camera!)..

Strange green river gorge

and here’s someone else’s…MUCH better!

Vintgar Gorge


Lake Bled is a fairytale, an opal of a lake surrounded by dark-forested, snow-tipped mountains.  On an island in the middle sits an old stone church.  We row out there in a hired boat, but when we get close I jump in and swim the rest of the way.  Interestingly, later over dinner we’re approached by a slightly manic American woman who had tried to swim off the shore (near the town) and had been told she had to pay a large fee.  Ha ha.  The bell of the church is always ringing, cause there’s a legend that if you swing off the bell chain, your wish will be granted.  So I did (and wished that Mr F and Ms M would have long and happy lives).

Here is MY Lake Bled…

church on Lake Bled

and here is the travel photographer’s Lake Bled, in this case much more accurate!

Lake Bled


There can’t be anything much better in the world than sitting on the outside wall of a 13th century church in your swimsuit in the sun, dripping wet, swinging your bare feet and looking out over Lake Bled.  Even Dracula would’ve cheered up.

Later…overheard from a group of young men, having dinner in the pub in (village): ‘The demise of the American empire has begun.’  Sorry folks.  You heard it first from Slovenia.

Back in the village


  1. Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat.Com™ and commented:
    I always enjoy your travel adventures, especially the photos. Thank you and I want to wish you & your family a wonderfully joyous Kwanzaa, Christmas & Hanukkah & a healthy, happy & prosperous New Year.

    1. It’s definitely worth going. I think Slovakia and the other states around there are also really beautiful – and all so close to one another!


      1. Both..I’ll go back to Slovenia but see Slovakia and Hungary as well, and also check out northern Greece – never been there. I want to show Ms M how lovely it is – also she’s good company!

  2. A good read, Rose… Kinda reminds me of a trip to Poland I took last year; off the beaten track as far as holidays go yet surprisingly interesting and a trip I’ll always remember…!
    Sad about the foals, Rose; guess one man’s horse is another man’s cow/goat/sheep/dog…..!
    Really enjoyed that… Seems I’m about up for another ‘out of the ordinary’ venture..!

  3. I walked from bled to Vintgar gorge but did see a few cyclists doing the trip – it looked hard work! But worth it when you get there. Awesome colours and my favourite country too.

  4. Great story and pics; sounds like a really fun trip. Lamenting the loss of the thighs, though. Do you sketch or paint at all? Wouldn’t that be grand, to sit and sketch those marvelous thighs (though that might get you strudelized even quicker)?

    1. I sometimes try to sketch but the results are pretty unimpressive. Yes, it would be interesting – I’ve always thought that if I could draw, I’d draw women with lumpy bits, because nobody else does, much.


  5. Gorgeous photos, Rose. All this time I’d been under the impression that your header was some beautiful waterfall somewhere in Australia. I can’t get over the blue of that lake! One more place to visit before I die…

    1. Actually that strange green colour – I did see a lake that colour when I went to Jenolan Caves with Mr F (and that’s Australia) – I think it’s because of the limestone. I don’t think you’d regret going to the Slavs, Sally.


    1. Me and Ms M will be there sometime next year…either April or September, I think, depending on the finances and various things…you could meet us there, Darla!


  6. I love this, Rose. The pics are great quality, & I love how you rode off with the Dutch fraud lawyer 🙂

    That statue – agree: is moving.

      1. SERIOUS? Cheep one click. Bloody good pics. I remember getting a disposable underwater camera for shots of Daniel and me. Blurr, blurrrr, blurrrrr.

  7. Just the ticket. Mr. Don sent me a similar travelogue yesterday after a wee meltdown.

    Slovenia is AWESOME … i will add this to my travel itinerary, along with Australia; Scotland (again); Glacier National Park, Football Hall of Fame, Vienna, Salzburg … i won’t live long enough to go to the beautiful places i want to visit.

    I want to go where the larges collection of CEZANNE’s exist. I may have found it at the Barnes Foundation in Philly, PA, USA. XO

    1. At least the Cezannes aren’t too far away then! (or am I showing my ignorance of the USA). I know, I’ve got bucketloads of places I want to go. I want to go every year to some place for about a month. The USA is on my list too!


      1. There’s loads of good stuff in the USA. The Western Mountains are majestic and quite “sharp”. Northern Maine is rustic, but aging. There are lots of monuments and yadayadayada … I like nature and i like to visit people as well.

        All the art i want to see started in Europe, and a lucky, SMART man bought up all the Matisse’s, Cezanne’s and Renoir’s when NO ONE thought they were any “good”. Yes Philly is near NYC. It’s 1000 miles. US, we use miles. It’s a LONG drive, but only a 2 hour (or less flight) from Chi.

      2. I know, that’s why I wanna go (to the US). That and maybe to have coffee with my favourite blog friends! As for the French guys, think you’d better fly then Mel 🙂


    1. It’s so beautiful it’s hard to believe. And Bled is rather touristy – there are other lakes, apparently, which are as beautiful but much less frequented.


      1. Are you awarding me, Mel?? You know you were the first person ever to give me one…it was a big surprise and I was really pleased! Anyway of course I”ll accept it. Which means of course that you must have got it yourself first. So congratulations! thoroughly well deserved (actually I think you should just get the Mel Award, for being You)


  8. I studied abroad in Austria for about 3 months, and you are so right about how the mountains change from being happy mounds of earth to downright sinister. Personally, I prefer the sinister, but not sure what that says about me ha. I loved this post. Thanks for writing it!

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