Day 3: Slovenia’s Lakes and Alps
Lake Bled, Slovenia
We left Ljubljana to see Slovenia’s lakes and alps. Our first stop was Lake Bled, which is intensely romantic! My dream for a summer in the future is to rent a house on the lake and wake up every morning to swim. That or elope at the church in the middle of the lake, called the Church of the Assumption. Legend says that if you carry your bride up the hundred stairs to the church, you will have a long and happy marriage. The Pletna boat (pictured below), whose design is exclusive to Lake Bled, carries passengers to the church on the island. The Plenta boats are handcrafted and man powered. Lake Bled is known for ideal rowing conditions and was even home to the World Rowing Championships in 2011.
Lake Bled’s Church of the Assumption
Lake Bled Castle
Lake Bled Castle is one of the oldest Slovenian castles and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovenia. The oldest part of the castle is the Romanesque tower. The towers and buildings of the castle have been built upon throughout the middle ages. The buildings are arranged around two courtyards, which are connected with a staircase. There is a chapel on the upper courtyard, which was built in the 16th century. The castle also features a moat with a drawbridge.
Through the Vrsic Pass and the Soca Valley to Kobarid
We boarded the bus and took the scenic Vršič pass to the Soca valley where we arrived at our destination, Kobarid. When we stopped at the top of the pass Marijan surprised us with a toast with blueberry brandy. I think blueberry brandy is an acquired taste! There were a lot of sheep roaming the pass. They seemed interested in the blueberry brandy, perhaps their tastes are very sophisticated.
In July 1915, the Austro-Hungarian high command ordered a road be built over the Vršič pass. The pass was built by prisoners of war, the majority of who were Russian soldiers. The road, now named Ruska Cesta (Russian road), features this Russian chapel, which commemorates the Russian soldiers who lost their lives building the road. The site also features the remains of the work camp and telpher line (a overhead line powered by electric engines that carries vehicles and loads, usually over steep terrain), which are important historical monuments of WWI.
The Legend of the Golden-Horned Goat
As we drove over the pass,Marijan told us one of Slovenia’s legends. Like many countries, Slovenia has its fair share of folklore and myths. As the legend goes, a goat with horns of gold wandered the Dinaric Alps in Slovenia and protected the other goats. His gold horns were the key to the gold on themountainBogatin, which was guarded by the hundred-headed dragon.There was an inn amid the Alps where weary travelers could rest. Theinn-keeper’s daughter had many suitors but she loved a young hunter fromTrenta, the son of a blind widow. One day the young hunterhad an argument with theinn-keeper’s daughter and she scolded him for knowing all the riches of the mountains yet failing to bring her theTriglav rose.The hunter set out to bring the inn-keeper’s daughter the rose and the key to the mountain Bogatin. When he set out to do so, he came across the golden horned goat and shot him. He followed the wounded animal along a narrow path, which ended at a sheet of rock. The golden-horned goat reached the spot where the Triglav rose grew and ate it. The goat immediately regained his strength and ran toward the Trenta hunter in big jumps, causing the hunter fall off the mountainside. Having learned that her love died in pursuit of her hand, the young woman became a nun. Marijan mentioned that several of Slovenia’s legend feature a man dying and a woman becoming a nun.