|Bled Island. Photo used courtesy of Sava Hoteli Bled|
This month I've written about our forays via car, airplane and raft. But our most romantic means of transport was taking a rowboat across Lake Bled in the Julian Alps of Slovenia.
I wish I could tell you that ‘Bled’ is Slovenian for ‘fairy tale’. It seems impossible that such a prosaic name could be given to such a picture-perfect location. A glacial lake, surrounded by tree-covered mountains, with a tiny island in the middle. You could easily believe that once upon a time Rapunzel was held in the church tower on the island. And that only by rowing across the lake could the prince release her.
In truth, the voyage to the island wasn’t nearly full of the perils that would be required for a prince to prove himself. It was a short twenty minute trip from dock to dock. We all took turns rowing, although Andrew was the only one capable of steering the boat toward a destination rather than taking us in circles. But the day was warm, the breeze was mild, and we were in no hurry.
Bled Island was as lovely a destination as we had hoped. We climbed the stone stairway of ninety-nine steps that leads from the dock to the church. We admired the views back to the alps on the mainland. We visited the church and rang the wishing bell, which guarantees that our wishes would come true. As we took in the beauty around us, we felt as if they already had.
|Departing Bled Island|
The lake is small enough to walk around in a few hours, which is what we did the following day. We climbed a steep pathway to reach the medieval castle that overlooks the lake. (Set on a high, rocky cliff, it’s a more likely place to have imprisoned Rapunzel.) On our walk, we fed the swans, and stopped for lunch at a little restaurant with a perfect view of the lake and the island. But for sheer fairy-tale beauty and tranquility, nothing beat the rowboat trip to Bled Island.