Thursday, October 1, 2009

Lake Bled, Slovenia

We spent a quiet Sunday with DeWayne and Mari's family at church and playing games at home. Monday DeWayne left for a conference in DC he couldn't get out of, so we helped Mari grocery shop and prepare her for ... three days with just her and four kids. She offered to watch Hyrum and her kids while Joy and I took off with their van for a few days to do some longer-distance touring. Joy was understandably nervous about being a bother, but they volunteered, so we took off Tuesday with an air mattress in the van, some luggage, and enough Propel to drown a goat.*

Driving east past Trieste, we entered Slovenia. This was a much bigger change than going from US to Italy. I have a smattering of romance languages and so can make sense of many of the Italian signs and directions. Slovenian not so much. Joy was navigator and we had to come up with nicknames for their major cities so she could direct me. The capital is Ljubljana, for instance. Rather than let Joy struggle it (my best guess: lyub-lyahn-ah) out each time we turned towards or away from it, I told her to call it Lublub. Anyway, we skirted Lublub to the north until we arrived at the amazingly picturesque Lake Bled (pronounced close to Blade).

Lake Bled is the real life ideal on which so many stories are based (the Platonic ideal, even). Perfectly gorgeous little lake with an island lighthouse in it. On one side of the lake is beach and the other side has a sheer cliff face that merges as one with the grand Castle Grad overlooking it (this picture isn't mine). We drove up to the Castle just as dusk was gathering and enjoyed watching as the view over the lake and resort hotels shifted in the sunset.

The castle today is a museum where most of the old, crumbly parts have been plastered over to make it look nice. Lots of fairly standard exhibits about how ancient man lives, some fossils, geology of the area. Enh. Upstairs was a bit more history about the castle and town itself. It was given to the local bishop as part of a deal to secure political control of the area and church support back around 1004.

During the 19th century, they decided the area would be a great resort area for people who need water treatments and it became THE place for the rich and famous to go for fresh air. Jane Austen fans, think Bath. Same idea.

A major fire in the 1940s gutted most of the place, hence the renovations since then to turn it into a hotel and then a museum.

Thankfully, the chapel seems to have been spared the worst of it, so you can see the original artwork on the walls, ceiling, in each cranny. This chapel was a little different from most we visited in that there was a top box for the bishop to sit in, rather than for the organ. No organ that we could see.

Here's another shot of that island in the middle of the lake.

After this, we drove through the Alpan tunnels into Austria and found a quiet residential street in Salzburg to park for the night.

* - No actual goats were harmed in the making of this blog.

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