Bled, Slovenia – Caves and castles

In planning my trip months ago, (not an exaggeration – I booked my hostels in mid-May), I reserved a rental car, mainly to do a self-guided tour of the Julian Alps. Seeing as how the next two days are going to be overcast and raining with poor visibility, that is going to have to wait for Friday or Saturday – same with a hot air balloon/paragliding/skydiving. It’s going to be a busy end of my trip.

Instead of wasting the day inside the hostel like many other backpackers did, I decided to take advantage of having a car and get out of Bled to see some sights that didn’t require good weather.

My plan was to pick up my rental car at 8:00am when they opened. I quickly became disappointed when I remembered that reception at my hostel kept my passport and they didn’t open until 9am, so I waited. I did find my laundry which was folded – it’ll be nice to have clean clothes for the first time in 7 days. He finally arrived at 9:25am, so I quickly took my passport then walked to the rental car location.

The paperwork went pretty smoothly. I bought an international drivers license at AAA before I left, but he didn’t ask for it. After inspecting the car, I found the GPS holder was broken so it wouldn’t stick to the windshield so I had to put it in the seat next to me – not a huge deal, just annoying.

I was on the road by 10:00am. I headed south on the expressway towards Ljubljana, then went southwest, listening to the talking lady and looking down at the GPS whenever she told me new directions. I passed a mostly cloudy rural landscape, lined with corn fields and the occasional industrial building.

I stopped at a roadside rest stop and got lunch for about €8. Of course I didn’t finish it all, but at least I’m back to eating more ‘American’ food.

My car I’m renting in the front – VW Golf Diesel. Nice little hatchback.

My first stop was Postojna Caves. I parked in the lot, then walked in the rain for about 10 minutes to get to the entrance. After paying for my ticket (€18.30 or $24.35), I waited outside in the line to enter the caves. 

It wasn’t too much fun waiting in the rain without an umbrella.

Once inside, things got better. One of the nice parts about this particular cave is you travel into it by boarding a 2 person wide rail car with at least 50 rows. If kind of felt like a combination of the Haunted Mansion and Space Mountain at Disney – except without annoying kids and no seatbelts. The train did get fairly fast and oftentimes the celing passed less than 6 inches above my head – good time I’m not very tall.

Once inside everyone split into groups based on language so I followed the tour for English. He told us these caves are some of the largest is Europe and this one runs 12 miles long! Also electric lighting was added in 1884, before Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital.

The tour guide very sternly mentioned no photography with flash, which some people continued to ignore throughout the tour. Either way, I brought my tripod and was able walk at the end of the group and get some shots.

The caves were pretty neat and it was worth what I paid for it. There’s another cave in this same part of Slovenia, but I didn’t see much point in spending $60 to do both.

After the caves, I headed to Predjama Castle.

A castle was originally built inside the cave in the 1202, but then later was rebuilt in the 16th century outside as it appears above. I didn’t tour the inside and had to take this picture under an awning because it was raining pretty steadily, but it was well worth the detour.

After the caves and castle, I headed back towards Bled. I drove past the lake and decided to continue on to Bohinj, another lake about 22 km away.

I passed a picturesque church in the valley between the two towns. Despite the clouds, it looked for a good spot for a picture.

After seeing Lake Bohinj in the rain, I drove back to Bled; I might try to visit again later if the weather gets better.

I got dinner at a pizza place, Pizzeria Rustika which was also pretty good. I ordered a large pizza and ate all but one slice, but the best thing about it was my drink.

Salami and oregano – about €10 or $13.3

A glass full of ice!

The Coke was room temperature so they gave me a glass of ice instead. And not just one or two pieces like you normally get, but a glass filled to the top with ice – I was so happy.

After dinner, I went to my hostel and did some more reading on how to best plan the rest of my time in Bled.

Despite having poor visibility, Slovenia is my favorite country I’ve visited on this trip already. Parts of Croatia were nice, and Bosnia was something completely different, but Slovenia feels like Europe: mountains, church steeples, and castles. I wasn’t expecting the weather to be like this, but then again it is mid-September and the latitude of Slovenia is higher than NYC, so maybe this is expected. Hopefully it gets better!

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