A crowded train brought us from Ljubljana to Bled, where we considered the considerable merits of kremna rezina (cream cake).
Actually the train on Friday brought us to the town of Lesce, a few clicks away from Bled by taxi.
The idea of a railway from Vienna to Trieste, via Maribor and Ljubljana in present-day Slovenia, dates to 1829. At the time, all these locales were Habsburg domains. The first actual through train from Vienna to Trieste finally ran in 1857.
Lesce is not on this line.
Rather, it’s on the stretch of railroad extending north from Ljubljana, through Villach in Austria to Salzburg (and on to Munich). I took this picture from the rail car window when we stopped just outside Lesce.
However, as the gateway to Lake Bled, Lesce is less than an hour from Ljubljana.
The point to this digression is that since medieval times, Bled has been a tourist town because pilgrims came to the island church (Church of Mary the Queen, also known as the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, or Our Lady of the Lake).
Then, since the mid- to late-1800s, Lake Bled not only has been a known vacation spot, but a place easily accessible by rail from two of the continent’s wealthier population centers.
Friday afternoon was devoted to an orientation stroll with bouts of snacking and drinks. The Christmas market was open (it will be depicted in the next chapter), but in many respects our visit to Lake Bled took place during regional tourism’s shoulder season; “summer” ends in October, and then things are relatively quiet until it snows, when winter sports and skiing rev up in the surrounding mountains.
Dinner was taken at our Hotel Astoria Bled, where we shared a somnolent dining room with one other table. Understandably, there was a fixed-price menu with the barest of options, and the bar didn’t bother opening. Shrug. This photo is of a beer garden nearby which I’d have patronized, except it was closed for the season.
Saturday morning’s breakfast buffet was better. I heartily approved the inclusion of spreadable lard as part of a “local products” table (with cheese, salami and sausage). Lard is better smeared on bread as an accompaniment to beer, as opposed to coffee. But we all make do.
As in Ljubljana, it was expected that we’d be dodging patches of rain throughout the weekend. Luckily most of the precipitation came at night. With the Saturday morning forecast cool and cloudy with little chance of rain, we decided to circumnavigate the lake, a four-mile walk. It was a rewarding hike.
Here are highlights, beginning on the north side of the lake and returning via the south shore.
The next few photos are of the Tito’s villa, Vila Bled (now a hotel) and the immediate vicinity.
After Saturday’s walk we enjoyed a bite at the Christmas market and purchased supplies for sandwiches to eat later in the evening. We’d booked time in the evening at the hotel’s spa, which includes hot tubs and saunas. It was a fine, steamy way to wind down from a long, rewarding day.