Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Beautiful Bled - 21 May 2007

Smlednik CalvaryThe big high over Central Europe arrived today, good timing, as we set out for the mountains.

Our first stop was the Smlednik Calvary: built in 1772 and one of the oldest and most beautiful in Slovenia, the 14 restored Baroque stations of the Cross snake up the hill to the three crosses at the top.

Skofja LokaOn then to Skofja Loka: founded in 973 and complete with an upper class square for the wealthy, and a lower class square, for the others; the difference is still very obvious today. The Capuchin Bridge [background], a handsome, single span arch was built in the 14th Century and is one of central Europe’s oldest bridges. It has now been augmented by other crossings but is still in use for traffic today.

Kranj was better from a distance but did provide the rather unusual spectacle of some men scuba diving in the main street.

Lake Bled, Otok Island and the CastleAfter that, it was on to the popular tourist destination of Lake Bled where we found a lovely lakeside pension to stay in. Otok Island

Across the road we were able to take a boat ride to the picture-postcard Otok Island.

Vintgar Gorge4km north of Bled is the very stunning Vintgar Gorge. The afternoon had turned very hot, so we really enjoyed the walk in the cool shadows of the cliffs. The walkway is about 1.5 km long, and most of its length is a boardwalk, built out from the cliff edge.

Lake BledAfter dinner, on a balcony overlooking the lake, we walked along the lakeside into Bled. Surpsingly, for a 1000 year-old settlement, the town itself has no appeal: but the setting is fabulous; justly deserving its place as Slovenia's premier tourist resort.

Hay racksThird impression of Slovenia: the countryside is dotted with racks for drying hay. There are distinct regional variations to these racks, some single, some double, some including corn drying areas, some built into barns.

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