In 2017 and 2018 I published A Firsthand Guide to Bled, Slovenia. This is the 2018 edition. For the book to have relevance, it needs to be written in Bled or soon after a visit. but as I can’t be there in 2019, I’m happy to provide this to anyone interested with the advisory note that parts may well be out of date.
Bled attracts visitors of all ages, interests and tastes. While many arrive in organised groups, increasingly large numbers come independently for a day, a weekend, a week and sometimes even longer. In 2017 there were 1 million overnight stays in this small town.
Some people see Bled as a short stopover, just a few hours to visit to the castle, take a short voyage on a pletna to explore the Bled Island, perhaps do a circuit of the lake in a horse drawn carriage. Some only get a snapshot by arriving in coaches to spend a very short time.
This guide is aimed at all and any of those people. Whether you spend an afternoon or a week in Bled, this book aims to help you find the best, the hidden and the most exciting aspects of the town whether that be food, drinks, activities, entertainment or sights.
I mainly speak directly to the reader and assume you are – even in an organised group – “independent”; that is, you decide what you want to do and where you want to go, are happy to explore something new and don’t mind a few words of advice from people who have been before you and are now coming back.
To that end, we travel together and independently.
“Every morning, I walk around the lake to my office. Bled is my hometown, but I admire its beauties everyday even more.”
Lea Ferjan – Bled Culture Institute
INTRODUCTION to 2018 Edition
2018 A year of Culture
2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage and Slovenia is anticipating a year of cultural tourism. Bled is an important part of the county’s heritage – the lake, the castle, the island, the pletna and even Bled cream cake. Many of the events held each year are part of the country’s and the region’s cultural heritage. As are the classical music of Festival Bled to the celebration of the accordion held at the beginning of May to the rowing and skiing events to the Taste Bled menus each summer and so many other occasions, big and small.
There are many other cultural attributes that can be associated with Bled including the national poet Prešeren who described the region in the epic poem The Baptism at The Savica where he writes about the waves surrounding the island and the pilgrims on their journey. He talks about the snow-capped mountains in the background, the castle, the fields in summer and ends by saying
“The land of Carniola does not have a more beautiful place,
when surrounded by this, the image of paradise.
Here the original
Tje na otok z valovami obdani,
v današnjih dnevih božjo pot Marije;
v dnu zad stojé snežnikov velikani,
poljá, ki spred se sprósti, lepotije
ti kaže Bléški grad na levi strani,
na desni griček se za gričam skrije.
Dežela kranjska nima lepšga kraja,
ko je z okolšno ta, podoba raja.
(By the way, Prešeren uses the work Kranjska, others say Carniola, I usually – but not always say Gorenjska. All three are appropriate.)
The Prešeren House is in the village of Vrba in the Municipality of Žirovnica about an hour’s walk from Bled, or 10 minutes by car and bus. France Prešeren was born here in 1800. You can visit most days; it is closed on Mondays. His home and work place in Kranj, Prešernova hiša, is in the old town near the tourist information centre at Prešernova ulica 7, 4000 Kranj. Phone: 386 51 615 388
For a translation of the poem and more about Prešeren go to the website www.preseren.net
Bees and beekeeping
From 2018 onwards, the United Nations will recognise 20 May each year as World Bee Day. It has taken three years’ work to convince the UN of the importance of beekeeping (or apiculture). The campaign was led by Slovenia where one in every 200 people is a beekeeper. The official word came just before Christmas 2017 when an official government announcement said, “Slovenia sees this confirmation of its efforts above all as an obligation to do even more to protect bees and to be even more active in ensuring biodiversity.”
The importance of bee keeping and the influence of bees to all our environment is only just being understood. This part of Slovenia is the home of the Carniolan honeybee the second most common bee species in the world. The Museum of Apiculture is in Radovljica, has a very impressive collection of historic painted beehive panels depicting images from the life at the foot of the Alps. Some are well over 100 years old. There are beehives in the shape of a giant man and a doll’s house. Radovljica with its tiny but beautiful old town is 10 minutes from Bled by bus.
Throughout this book there are many examples of Slovenian culture; music, wine, food and festivals. Yet Slovenia’s most important cultural asset is the people. Almost always friendly – there are a few exceptions anywhere in the world – almost always interested in you, where you came from, that you think of Slovenia, excited (well, usually amused) if you try to speak Slovenian.
Slovenes especially people in Carniola are cultured, they enjoy the outdoors, they are very family focused. If you engage with them, they usually will engage with you.
When that happens you really enjoy the country.
22 May 2018