Host report by Jane and James Tullett
Wow – what an incredibly beautiful location for our Refreshers holiday. Lake Bled has to be one of the top places in Europe to visit of outstanding natural beauty. We were so fortunate with the weather, having clear blue skies and sunshine all week, with the exception of one morning. Our bridge room enjoyed views of the lake and looking up to the Julian Alps. It was just as well that James’s seminars were all interactive, otherwise the view out of the window may have been distracting to our bridge learning!
We enjoyed a group walk round the lake on our first afternoon together, with guests going at their own pace, to take in the spectacular views of the lake, island, churches and mountains. Several guests were spotted at coffee shops during our stroll, enjoying ice creams as well as the famous Bled cream cake (which originated in our hotel in 1953).
Our second group venture was to Vintgar Gorge; the majority of the guests took the local transport to the Gorge entrance, but the more adventurous of us enjoyed an hour long stroll (stopping to photograph a praying mantis of all things!) to meet up at Vintgar. The gorge is stunning, with a series of waterfalls and steep sided tree lined walls, all accessed on sturdy boardwalks and bridges criss-crossing the river.
The gorge is 1.6km long and at the end is welcoming little café offering superb hot chocolate and local cakes. The energetic of the group continued our circular walk up to the small medieval church of Sveta Katarina which offered lovely views into the valley and down to Bled.
With so many lovely vistas and places to explore around the lake, guests were spotted in our free afternoons taking a traditional boat ride out to the island and then ringing the church bell three times as rewards for climbing 70+ steps to the top. Others walked/ took a taxi up to the castle and appreciated the views from a high down on the lake and town. The more daring went zip-lining, others took the cable car to Vogel and some explored the caves.
Our organised excursion, included in the holiday, was to the capital city of Ljubljana. City in name but not size, making it very easy to walk around with no danger of getting lost. We took the funicular train up to the castle and enjoyed the views over the city. Our trip was timed to perfection as it was the last Friday street food market of the year and we were treated to an array of cuisine from around the world, accompanied by local wines and beers. A real feast for the senses.
Our final group outing was by local bus to the quaint little medieval town of Radovljica. Described as the sweetest town of Slovenia, it boasts to be the capital of chocolate and honey, hosting an annual chocolate festival and houses an apiculture (bee keeping) museum. We had a delightful time exploring the gingerbread workshop, watching the biscuits being hand decorated and the history of the delicacy explained to us. The smell of proving gingerbread was devine.
We were entertained with traditional music and song outside a wine bar as we enjoyed the sunshine.
Several of us found a delightful taverna with a terrace overlooking the valley for a coffee / lunch. The walkers of the group then took a 7km amble back to Bled, enjoying the trail beside the river and appreciating the local fauna and flora.
The photographs do not fully convey the beauty of the area, you really have to come and experience Lake Bled for yourself.