Dinner at A l’Art Bled – Vila Istra

This is a review written for Trip Advisor

This was the most inventive and memorable dinner I have had in many years. A good dinner is not just about sitting down and eating; it is about the whole experience and the company.

Dawn and I arrived a little early – no problem a cold glass of Slovenian Champagne with mint “from the garden” was our welcome as Dejan asked whether we preferred to sit inside or out. We were briefly tempted to sit inside the stunning 1878 Austro-Hungarian house on the edge of Lake Bled, but it was a warm sunny evening so we sat outside on the veranda overlooking the lake.

Miha the chef came out to talk to us about what he had been preparing. A proper conversation about food, ingredients, and source.

Dejan talks in detail about each wine on the list; there is an emphasis on Slovenia – a country which produces some excellent award winning wine, but like much else about Slovenia, not well known, or at least not known well enough. Miha came to the table at each course to tell us about what he had prepared. His ingredients included flowers and herbs from the hotel garden, and mushrooms from the surrounding forests. After the main course we invited both of them to join us for a glass of wine. We talked about food and dreams and ideas. This was a table for dreams and plans as the sun set behind the Slovenian Alps.

Dejan brought us a glass of the best desert wine I have ever had – I tend to avoid desert wines – and local pear brandy. I should have taken notes – I’ll have to go back to find out what they were.

Expensive? Not compared to any northern European city restaurant with such high standards of cooking, welcome, presentation.

By the end of the evening we were exchanging email addresses and links to Facebook pages and promising another visit. It can’t come soon enough.

End of week two

Most of the time I will be blogging about Bled here. But sometimes I’ll post on davysims.com

Yesterday cycling (yes, me, cycling) around the hamlets nearby, there were several cars being re-packed for the long drive home. Sunday marks the end of the holiday and if this were a normal holiday we would be waking up at home this morning, not here in Bled.

There was another wonderful thunderstorm last night. After a day of bad weather in Austria and Italy, the mountains could no longer hold back the weather and the overspill into the sunny side of the Alps was dramatic, noisy and entertaining. This is the third thunderstorm in just under a week. Whether it’s hot and sunny, wet and thundery or just bright and cool. like this morning, the weather is not boring.

We are both feeling healthier. Local fresh food from small supermarkets, fantastic salads, bread, fruit. I don’t think we have ever ate so well.

And exercise. Walking mainly. To Bled centre is 25 minutes. I’m cycling or just following paths. Some are too challenging. But I’ll get there. 

And there is so much more to Bled than Lake, Island, Church, Castle, Pletna boats. And you don’t have to look far to find them. Some of the buildings are beautiful/impressive/interesting … oh and there are several ugly hotels, but at least they are in the one place and most of the time you won’t see them.

Coming up this week; to Ljubljana for the day.

Some of my best photos are here on Flickr.

Why some web advertising doesn’t work

I’m sure everyone has examples. Among the promises of web advertising were to be that messages would be targeted, relevant and usable. Over the years advertising relevance has improved, but there are some glaring weaknesses.

Here’s one.

A few weeks ago I searched for flights from Belfast City Airport; Aer Lingus was among the airlines I checked out, but booked with another (and in my experience even if I had booked Aer Lingus, I would still be getting the messages below.

I’ve now completed my travels and am now in Slovenia. Aer Lingus does not fly to/from Ljubljana (or anywhere nearby that I can see). It’s not the airline’s fault, but looking up the opening hours of my local Mercator I got this page. I’d really rather have had information about this week’s offers.


Why some web advertising just doesn’t work

In praise of easyJet … Honest!

In praise of a budget airline with world class standards.

The the last three years I have taken between 20 and 30 flights on easyJet. It has been consistently good to a pleasure. And half of those flights have been with someone needing “special assistance”.

Long gone the days when we passengers were herded into people corrals with the easyJet ground staff more like aggressive sheep dogs rather then caring shepherds. Our blood pressure up as we reached near panic, hepped up adrenalin and fear of not getting a “good” seat. Cabin crew whose attitude was “sit there, shut up, and do as you are told for we have the power and you are no more than walking freight. And have the right bloody change if you buy coffee!”

No longer.

I don’t know when the change occurred or the cause. Was it when Stavros the owner left? Allocated seating (which you can chose if you pay a small fee), staff trained to care, smile, be helpful. Humour and friendliness have supplanted dominance and aggressive directiveness.

The Belfast to Stansted yesterday departing about 3:00 pm may count as one of the best flights I have ever had with any airline.

I’m writing this in Stansted waiting for the Ljubljana easyJet to Ljubljana. I hope it matches expectations.


UPDATE The cabin crew were mainly the same crew on the Belfast flight. Excellent.