Today was another day of exploring so Chris arranged to have the car again. At first we considered taking the bus to Lake Bled but Chris found another Rick Steves recommendation for a day trip over the Vršič Pass to get there, so we decided on the car option. Glad we decided to do it this way. Lucille was going to run in the Ljubljana marathon today so she would not be joining us.
The breakfast area was inundated by all the marathoners staying at the hotel. So many lean, fit people eating healthy foods! We still managed to fill our plates with breakfast and lunch goodies, wished Lucille good luck and set off. Al, and Emma – the name given to our wonky gps unit, managed to take us 20 kms out of town in the opposite direction that we needed. Hard to blame Al, with all the road signs in Slovene. I certainly wouldn’t have done any better :(. But Emma should have known better.
After discovering our error and finding an exit off the freeway, we were off in the right direction. Such are what adventures are made of. We stopped in the little town of Indrija for coffee. It was Sunday and the town was pretty vacant but lots of people in the café/pub. It would have been nice to be there on a weekday as it is an old mining town, formerly the second largest mercury mine in the world, and I would have loved a mine tour.
Our route followed river valleys, first the Idrijca, then the Soca, through Tolman, Kobarid, Zaga and up to Trenta. A little past Trenta, the road starts climbing up the Vršič Pass, a steep (14%) twisty climb with 26 numbered switchbacks over 9 kms. The scenery was beautiful, with the snowy Julian Alps peaking through gaps in the rounded foothills bathed in fall colours. We pulled off the road at a small parking area to a path leading to a viewpoint in Triglav National Park, the only national park in Slovenia. We decided this would be a good place for a picnic lunch.
The trip down the other side of the pass was just as steep – this time with 24 switchbacks, all of them cobblestone. I couldn’t help thinking about how exhausting it would be to ride that pass. We saw a few cyclists, all on downward legs, and it is supposed to be a popular bike route (especially if one is masochistic).
We continued on to Lake Bled, a popular resort and tourist spot and home of the only island in Slovenia (!). We found a paid parking spot and started to walk the 7 kms around the lake. It was a leisurely stroll, with a bunch of photo ops of the Bled Castle perched high on a crag overlooking the lake and, of course, the island. We didn’t have time to visit either places but the walk was nice after sitting in a car for the last few hours.
We arrived back in Ljubljana at 6 p.m. and had a lot of trouble finding parking again. So we resorted to what proved to be successful yesterday – re-arranging the construction barriers by our hotel. Not entirely legal but it works. And soon after, just as happened yesterday, a car moved while Chris was watching. So he quickly took its spot, returned our barrier to its rightful position and all was legal again.
We met a tired-looking, but hungry, Lucille and went off to our last supper in town at Spajza, one of the top restaurants in Ljubljana. We were led to a back room, which we shared with 6 Norwegian marathoners. Another night of good food, good wine and great companions. The evening ended with more ice cream (a nightly ritual when we couldn’t get gelato), and our usual game of Wizard. And more wine. Ah…I’m going to miss Slovenia.