Our recent trip to Slovenia was the essence of Slow Travel. After spending a quick overnight in the city of Graz, and visiting the infamous synagogue that had been dynamited on Kristallnacht, and rebuilt and dedicated on November 11, 2000, 62 years after Kristallnact, we made a beeline for Lake Bled where we spent six glorious days. That was followed by three more days at a Slovenian spa in Rimske Toplice, but more on that later.
Lake Bled, an hour’s drive from the capitol of Lublijana, is a shimmering blue gem, with surfaces that are so still, they reflect the lush trees surrounding the lake. We had originally anticipated renting an apartment with a panoramic view of the lake for six nights. Little did we realize that the apartment was situated directly above the road ringing the lake, and aside from the view we would be treated to cars, buses and motorbikes switching gears right under our panoramic window.
We quickly bailed out, and luckily our landlady manages another property about 3 kilometers outside of Bled, with the perfect apartment just waiting for us. This one bedroom newly constructed apartment sported a balcony looking out over a peaceful meadow, with the sounds of a running river not far below. It was situated at the end of a tiny village Bodesce, and about a five minute drive from Bled. Amazing what five minutes will bring you! Peace, quiet, tranquillity. Everything we were looking for in this Slow Vacation!
Once our suitcases were unpacked and the refrigerator filled, we were ready to set out. First stop was a bike trip in the countryside. We rented bikes in Bled and set out on the recommended 35 km route, on empty country roads that included rolling hills, small villages, and outstandingly peaceful scenery. We stopped at a small restaurant for a drink and conversation with some local school kids that were gearing up for summer vacation. The cycling trip ended abruptly when Mike’s gears froze on a fairly lonely stretch of the road. Fortunately, Slovenian people are outgoing and ready to help. Within ten minutes a man driving a van appeared out of nowhere, loaded our bikes into his van and took a 30 minute detour from his ride home to get us back to the bike store in Bled. Talk about serendipity!
The next day we set off for a road trip to the Julian Alps. Alps might be a misnomer, for these mountains rise up only 2800 meters at Mount Triglav, but the scenery is outstanding and the ride was beautiful. We stopped several times to snap photos, and enjoy the views.
We made our way down to the Socha Valley, and enjoyed crossing over the Socha River, sometimes called the Emerald River ( you will see why) on rather shaky suspension bridges.
From there we crossed into Italy making our way home via an excellent cup of coffee (finally!) and an Italian supermarket. Those Italians know a thing or two about food that the Slovenians could learn.
Sunday brought us to Lake Bohinj, a thirty minute drive away from our apartment. We once again rented bikes, and this time set out on a 25 km bike ride to the lake through thankfully flat countryside.
We took a break from biking to take a cable car ride up to Mt. Vogel, a ski resort, enjoying a beer and the beautiful views at the top of the mountain.
Monday we sadly bid goodbye to our apartment with the wonderful porch and headed towards Lublijana and on to the Rimske Toplice Spa, but more on that in the next post.
So why, you might ask, is this “slow travel”?
“It sure sounds like you were running around alot,” you say.
In fact, we did move around a bit, but we didn’t do more than one site each day. We never rushed. We started out each morning after waking up without an alarm clock, enjoying a leisurely breakfast, sometimes learning or reading for awhile, and only then packing up to go out. We came back each evening and enjoyed preparing and eating dinner, watching movies on TV and reading. We never felt that we had to “accomplish”, “get to”, or do anything in particular. We took our time, and decided day by day, hour by hour, what was next. For me, this is the essence of slow travel.