Walk through the wardrobe to … Slovenia

April 11, 2015 § 2 Comments

When Lucy first walked through the wardrobe door and found herself in Narnia, it was a world of winter. A world of snow. A world of magic.

That’s exactly how I felt from the moment my plane flew low over snow-covered fields -black trees creating an incredible contrast – into Ljubljana, Slovenia back in February.

Jumping straight on a bus from the airport I headed to Lake Bled – recommended highly by a number of friends who had raved about its beauty. And walking around the picturesque lake, complete with quaint church perched on an island in the middle (an image, I imagine is one of the most photographed in the country), it was quickly discovered that they weren’t lying.

If you’re looking for wild nightlife (heading out with fellow hostel-goers on a Friday night we went to a bar which our host promised would be “pumping”, we found ourselves with a grand total of eight other patrons) and a range of sights and attractions, then Bled is probably not for you. But for anyone craving a few days surrounded by incredible natural beauty and a quiet, peaceful town then put Bled on your bucket list.

I suspect that in summer, with its hiking trails and as a base for many water-related activities, Bled would be much more crowded and touristy. But in winter, it was the perfect place to chill out, mooch around and take in the scenery with hardly another person – visitor or local – around. And for that (and the feeling that I was in some sort of wintery paradise) I am glad that I went in the low season. Somehow, it made the trip that little bit more special.

In retrospect, I would advise anyone visiting both Bled and Ljubljana to head to the capital first. While quaint, with its castle-perched-on-a-hill, cobbled streets and expansive Tivoli Park, it did feel much like many other larger cities in Europe and certainly didn’t hold me as captivated as Bled had. In saying that, it is definitely worth a visit, but a day is more than enough to take in the sights.

With that in mind and on the advice of a Slovenian/Australian traveller I’d met on the plane, I headed to Škofja Loka, one of the oldest medieval towns in Slovenia. Truth be told, it didn’t feel too medieval, save for the tiny ‘old town’ with narrow roads and bridges and a former castle perched high above.

What was worth the visit, were the hiking trails on the hills behind the town. Snow covered and mildly perilous when wearing anything but proper hiking footwear (note: heeled boots are not appropriate shoes), they offered stunning views and the promise of heading to who-knows-where if you kept following the paths. On this occasion, I chose to head back after a brief spell of walking, but in warmer weather I would have trekked for hours.

I don’t know when it may be, but I am sure that one day I will once again step through the wardrobe into Slovenia. You should do the same.

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