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Lina's Slovenia trip report- part of Croatia/Slovenia trip

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Nov 6th, 2002, 08:26 AM
  #1
Lina
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Lina's Slovenia trip report- part of Croatia/Slovenia trip

This is the continuation of a trip report I have already posted for Croatia. This will be the Slovenia part of our 2-1/2 week trip to Croatia and Slovenia in Sept/October 2002.
We took the train from Rijeka, Croatia to Ljubljana (2-1/2 hours) and then the bus to Bled (about 1-1/2 hours). There is a train to Bled which actually stops in the village of Lesce-Bled, several kilometers from Bled, while the bus goes right to the town and stops near our hotel. However, the bus is slower and the cab fare from Lesce is very reasonable. If you can take the train straight through, it probably makes more sense but they wouldn't sell us a ticket past Ljubljana in Rijeka. Our first impression of Bled was just slightly disappointing - probably because we had built it up so much in our minds. The problem was the large unsightly cement type hotels on one small portion of the lake and some large ugly buildings around the town. However, the charm and beauty of the lake really quickly overcame these and we were quite able to just not see them. The views from the 4 and 5 star large hotels are the best in town (since you look at the lake, island and castle and not your own hotel). We stayed at the Vila Preseren for 5 nights on the lakeshore at the edge of town under the castle. It was a lovely small hotel with only 8 rooms and an excellent restaurant on the ground floor (88E/night). The view from our lakeview room was partially obstructed by the roof of the lower porch, but the view was still good and the room very comfortable and well furnished. The buffet breakfasts were exceptional and the restaurant probably had the best food of the trip.
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 08:27 AM
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Lina
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The lake is very enchanting and, on the gray, misty days, was a lovely dark green against the green and orange hills rising into clouds. We spent one lovely, misty fall day walking around the lake (about 3 miles, I think), renting a rowboat at the far end and rowing to the island with the church, and also climbing up to the castle for the stunning views. The fall colors were lovely and it was truly an enchanting spot. On our walk around the lake, we stopped at the Pension Mlino on the south shore for lunch - a wonderful outlook and I highly recommend the following dishes: mushroom soup with buckwheat mash (the soup is kept hot over a candle and the buckwheat is in a separate dish to be added to your bowl) and the pancakes (crepes) with ricotta filling and caramel/burnt sugar sauce. Our soups, the order of pancakes, tea, 1/4 liter wine and a schnapps cost about $15.
We ate dinner a couple of nights at the Gostilna Pri Planincu, a cosy, informal country inn just up the hill from our hotel and near the bus station. We had excellent meals, huge portions, and a very comfortable atmosphere.
We spent a Sunday in Ljubljana (buses run about every 2 hours on Sunday) which is a lovely city to wander around. We basically stayed in the old part of town and enjoyed walking along the river (huge flea market) and around the streets of the Old Town and climbing up to the Castle. There was some sort of medieval fair going on with pigs roasting on spits, and grills of sausages and spiced ground meat patties and lots of beer and people sitting at long wooden tables, and some people in costume. It really is a beautiful, old-fashioned city with willow trees hanging over the river and lots of people strolling around even on Sunday with the shops closed.
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 08:29 AM
  #3
Lina
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The next day we took the bus (about 40 min) to Ribcev Laz on the shore of Lake Bohinj- a lovely ride through steep canyons and wide valleys and tiny villages. It was a gorgeous, clear fall day and we really fell in love with this area. Lake Bohinj is a little larger than Bled, has no picturesque island or castle, but is completely undeveloped along the shoreline and is surrounded by mountains on all sides (limestone bluffs with evergreens and golden larch) and views of Mt Triglav (highest peak in Julian Alps). There are a string of little villages that run from Ribcev Laz east to Bohinjstra Bistrica. We walked about a kilometer to Stara Fuzina, the first one - a very compact village with narrow streets and lanes and lovely, small traditional houses quite close together - barns and gardens and hayricks and flowers and balconies. Everything is very harmonious. We stopped at a gostilne in the center of town and sat on wooden benches outside to have cappuccinos and homemade "mountain" schnapps - pale green and potent! After lunch on a hotel terrace in Ribcev Laz, overlooking the lake, we rode the excursion boat to the end of the lake and back and we were the only people on it - a private ride, and absolutely glorious with the fall colors. Instead of taking the direct bus back to Bled through Bohinjska Bistrica, we took another bus that ran through the string of villages and ended in B.B. where we could meet the direct bus. A feast for the eyes and the senses -mountains and pastures and fields and lots of hayricks and tiny, old houses all clustered together and the bus going down and around impossibly narrow lanes.
We liked this area so much we went back the next day and spent a couple of hours in the village of Sredna Vas just wandering around and having a picnic in the little town square (the only inn was closed that day). We definitely plan to come back and stay in one of the villages. This is our 11th trip to Europe together in the last 12 years and the first time we have ever been tempted to rent a car! The roads are so quiet and the cars are all very small and everyone seems to drive at a leisurely pace (at least in this small area). My knee had kind of given out on this day, so my husband actually tried to rent a car but it appeared that his license was expired (but actually was renewed on the back - he didn't realize).
We were happy to come back to Bled after our explorations and to experience the lake at different times of day and in different weather, and we also found some of the older neighborhoods of the town to wander around. Our visit to Bled really rounded out our vacation experiences in Dubrovnik and Hvar, Croatia and it seems we had an amazing variety in our 2-1/2 weeks.
We flew home to Seattle from Zagreb, Croatia (via Amsterdam) instead of from Lljubljana because of the good fare going round trip to Croatia. We took a direct train from Lesce-Bled to Zagreb (about 3-1/2 hours) and, to our surprise, it turned out to be one of the most scenic train rides we have had (and we have done a lot of train travel). Most of the way we were along the Sava River which had colors from deep green to turquoise. There were hills/cliffs/mountains on either side covered in green and gold, and gold leaves floating in the river and gold flowers on the river banks. Sometimes we would be in a sort of gorge and sometimes in a flat valley with brilliant green pastures and farms and hayricks and little villages and churches perched on the hills. In a way it reminded me of a sort of compressed Vermont with rounded humpy hills.
 
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Nov 6th, 2002, 08:31 AM
  #4
Lina
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We only had the evening in Zagreb before our early morning flight. We stayed at the Hotel Jadran about a kilometer from the train station and near the center of the old town area. The location was excellent, price about $80, but it was a little tattered though perfectly ok for a night. The old part of Zagreb was very attractive and we really enjoyed wandering for a couple of hours, stopping on a pedestrian street for a drink and at a pizzeria near our hotel (how about a carrot and pea pizza - one of the few nontranslated menus we had during the trip). The hotel arranged for a cab for an early trip to the airport and all went smoothly, but the cab was fairly expensive (about $40) and next time we will probably check out the airport bus from the bus station if it isn't too early in the day.
We are now pouring over our Lonely Planet Slovenia in anticipation of a return trip - and our Croatia guidebooks, too. I love to plan our trips - it is really my hobby during the year. This trip to Croatia and Slovenia exceeded our high expectations. We chose to go to some of the most popular places, but they are popular for good reasons. There is kind of a tourist track running up and down the coast of Croatia and we often saw the same people from place to place. We saw one English family in six different places from the ferry to Hvar to walking around Lake Bled. I think during the summer it might be unpleasantly crowded but it was perfect the end of September and early October.
If you have questions you think I might be able to answer, I will be glad to try and help.

 
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Nov 9th, 2002, 02:03 PM
  #5
Dora
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Thanks for the report. I've been thinking about Slovenia and this helps.
 
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Jan 24th, 2003, 10:37 AM
  #6
susie
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I loved your report. We're thinking of a trip in June. Can you tell me what it would have cost to rent a car for a day (not booking first in US)? Thanks.
 
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Jan 25th, 2003, 11:01 AM
  #7
lina
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Hi Susie, In October in Bled, the major companies like Avis and Budget as well as the Atlas Tourist office were charging about $50/day for a small car booked on the spot. I don't know whether you would do better booking ahead from the US. In any case, the driving looks very pleasant.
 
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Jan 25th, 2003, 11:11 AM
  #8
nina
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For the best deal you should rent from a local rent a car company, avoid the Avis, Hertz and Budget.

Nina
 
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Jan 25th, 2003, 11:15 AM
  #9
jack
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For anyone interested we drove from Vienna to slovenia via Ljublijana,lake bled and the west coast>but the highlight was the Logarski Dolina(a canyon surrounded by mountains with a 200 foot waterfall) and a ww2 hospital in a narrow canyon near the village of Cervko.We found Slovenia beautiful,modern and inexpensive.
 
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Jan 27th, 2003, 05:21 AM
  #10
Rory
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Please do visit Slovenija -- but make sure you don't miss Maribor. I live here and don't know why it seems to be overlooked so often by tourists as it is very historical, has great hiking nearby, as well as lots of interesting international restaurants and nightlife.

By the way, driving around Slovenija is no problem as the roads are well-marked. Just rent a car and go; that's actually THE best way to see any country, especially Slovenija.
 
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