Online Journal: Bled Day 3 (05/18/2013)
After our rain-filled Friday, we hoped Saturday would provide a better scene for an adventure through the spectacular Bled countryside. It was the most picturesque day one could hope– with a perfect sky, and the temperature holding steady around 70–and we were ready to take full advantage of the marvel placed before us. We set off for the Vintar Gorge, recommended to us by Jani. We knew the gorge would not suffice for the entire day, so we asked Jani about hiking options. He told us there wasn’t hiking near the gorge and we became quite depressed at our poor luck. Nonetheless, we were off for the gorge early in the morning. We walked about 4 km on the back roads of Bled and were rounding the final bend to the gorge when our worst nightmare appeared: a tour bus full of picture hungry Asians. We ran ahead of the large group of touristing Asians in order to beat them into the gorge and make our hike through much more bearable…when we saw the ticket kiosk. We refused to pay the 4 Euro to enter the gorge–more because of lack of money than unwillingness (although Dan did mention it ludicrous for the Slovenians to put a price on nature’s beauty)–and instead walked up the free bicycle path which circled high above the rampaging river. It was the best decision we had made on the trip. After hiking for a time on the path, we decided, “screw this” and became trail blazers, hiking off the bike path and up the hillside to our lefts. We climbed high into the Slovenian hills and eventually we could see miles over the horizon. We saw dozens of little villages and the view was tantamount to the best I’ve seen in Wyoming or anywhere else. Still, we climbed higher onto what was quickly becoming a steep mountainside. We continually spoke sarcastically of Jani saying there was no hiking in the area as we ascended toward to clouds. “No hiking” turned into a nearly panoramic view of the Slovenian countryside as we reached the highest point on our ridge. We found a tree which we believed to be mounted on the highest point of the bluff. I reached for my key to our room and inscribed “BROSS” on the tree and Teddy followed by placing the date above (18/05/2013). We reveled in the climb we had made, but had to return to earth. Our legs moaned as we descended, but our adrenaline at having made the climb trumped the pain. I know I will never feel as lucky to have been without money as the moment we viewed the Slovenian landscape from our ridge. Near the end of the path leading out if the woods, we saw our opportunity to view Vintar Gorge gratis. We slid down a hillside an landed on the wooden paths provided for the trek through the gorge. Overall, Vintar was disappointing as it was only a rushing river flowing through the mountainside. The walls of stone surrounding the river were a better sight than the river itself, but having cheated our way out of the payment made the trip through Vintar worthwhile. Now exiting Vintar became tricky and we took a wrong turn. Despite following a trail leading out of Vintar, we ended up on a Slovenian back road. Luckily, a group of older women was standing outside and we asked about Bled and, despite their limited English skills, the funny and kooky women pointed us in the right direction. I’m sure they still wonder if we made it safely back to Bled, as women of their age are apt to worry about us adolescents and young adults when we appear to be clueless. The day was far from over, as we had left the hostel at 8:30 and it was now only 4. We decided to trudge back up to the viewpoint above Lake Bled as today was–as I have said–picturesque and yesterday was miserable. The view, despite having already seen it, again made me, as well as Teddy and Dan, hold my breath for a moment. It’s awe-inspiring beauty shall never be forgotten by this writer. We rested a our legs screamed after the 8 hours of continuous walking, mostly uphill. It was a sad moment when we meandered back down to the lake level. We all knew we needed a good meal and so we prepared a chicken and pasta dinner with some broccoli on the side. It was the best meal I had eaten since arriving to Europe. We recanted the day’s events and the events of days past. Around 8 we found our way back to Lake Bled where we awaited what the Internet had called one of the 20 best sunsets on earth….but the sunset never came and we waited in futility for something concocted by an author’s imagination. Eventually, cold weather and Mosquitos won out and we said our final goodbyes to the magnificent lake with the isle resting in the middle. We all wanted to be early to bed with a 5:15 am train looming. We packed in preparation for Novalja, Croatia and then one-by-one we convened in the world of dreams.