One of my favorite destinations is Lake Bled, Slovenia. I have no doubt that Elizabeth Kostava described the fantastical Romanesque setting as her “not to be named” city at the beginning of her mysterious adventure in the Historian and perhaps the intriguing city is the motivation of where she finds a clue where Dracula lives.
Reaching the picturesque town located in the northwest nook of Slovenia is difficult. We hired a chauffeur from Italy; however, cross-country bicycling is popular. Bled remains secluded at the base of the Julian Alps and surrounds the glacial Lake Bled. In the center of the magnificent lake is the only natural island in Slovenia, Bled Island. The island sits like a masterpiece as the focal view for the community. Bled Island displays the 15th century building, Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary – a magical setting for a wedding. You could arrive by boat and ascend the pearly steps to the chapel to take your vows. Athletic tourists make use of the lake by rowing, sailing and swimming across it. The World Rowing Championships honored Lake Bled numerous times.
Lake Bled is hypnotic. Its misty texture and black surface beckon you to merge with its breathtaking beauty. Even the thinking about the atmosphere causes my heart to beat slower. We couldn’t resist walking around Lake Bled and my poor planning prove dot be an obstacle, once again. As is our family custom, I carried our child despite my wearing spiked heels. When we reached a rickety, wooden ladder emptying onto a floating platform that led to boulders along the shore, I refused to hike further. We were greeted by two elderly Englishwomen who advised me to keep a stiff upper lip for the Queen. Well, I did, but not without clarifying that I wasn’t wearing orthopedic shoes.
The Queen would have suffered her dignity by hiking around Lake Bled, also. The community kindly provides a cozy bar mid-way where you can elevate your dainty feet and appreciate communist sculptures before finishing the trail. When we continued our journey, we passed a horse and carriage. I questioned why my husband didn’t splurge on one of those.
Built earlier than the year 1004, one of Slovenia’s oldest castles looms over Lake Bled on a rugged cliff protruding from the fairytale forests. Bled Castle offers a museum with authentic ironwork. The seamless combinations of Romanesque, Baroque and Middle Age influences create clean lines and unexpected architectural features. A simplistic 16th century chapel is decorated with frescoes.
Trekking down the mountain takes such a long time, stairwells are carved into the mountainside, but you must remain alert in order to find them. Along the way from Bled Castle to the Lake Bled hotels you can find antique shops full of political statuary and bronze sculptures from the many eras of Slovenia’s history. The restaurants offer light dishes and delicacies for dessert. Children are welcome and if they are old enough to read stories about royal families in faraway kingdoms, they will love the holiday. Even I looked for fairies hiding within the mysterious forests.