Eastern Europe, Day 16 – Thursday, May 30, 2019

Bled, Slovenia

Again we were getting an early start to avoid crowds, but first, there was the breakfast buffet. This one had everything we had seen and/or tried before, with the addition of poached eggs, and champagne.

The town of Bled is known for its picturesque lake, which has an island in its center. The method of getting to the island is a boat called a “pletna.” It’s like a gondola, except that it can hold twenty people. Passengers keep very still to avoid tipping the boat, and the oarsman is obviously very strong. I was equipped with my Dramamine, but it was unnecessary because the ride was very calm. Did I mention that it was raining again?

One of the highlights of Bled Island is the Church of the Assumption, which is reached by climbing ninety-nine steps. On their wedding day, each local groom is expected to carry his bride up the ninety-nine steps to the church, and most of them succeed. Before we climbed the  steps, Katerina gave us a taste of the local blueberry liqueur. The island also has a clock tower, and we climbed another ninety steps to reach its top, where we saw the clock’s inner workings. This was fascinating to Nick and other science oriented visitors.

Legend has it  that if you pull the rope that rings the church bell three times and make a wish, your wish will come true. The line to get to the rope was short. We pulled the rope and made our wishes.

The lake is surrounded by many walking trails, so when we returned from the island, we began to explore.  We stopped for lunch at a place called Pizza Rustika, which specialized in pizza, of course. We shared a seafood pizza that was topped with shrimp and mussels. An English family of four including two young children sat at the next table, and I was amazed to see that each of the four ordered his/her own pizza.

After lunch, we ran  into two of our friends who were hiking to Bled Castle, which has areas that date back to the year 1011. We began to walk with them, but decided to go back to the hotel instead. We would all be leaving tomorrow and Katerina was kind enough to make reservations for cabs to get us all to tomorrow’s flights.

Dinner was at the restaurant next door to the hotel. We began with wine and canapes on the terrace, where we were entertained by a very good accordion player who was eleven years old. At our table, we shared platters of antipasti that contained wild boar, salami, prosciutto, olives,  and veggies. That was followed by a choice of soup, either cream of leek or cream of garlic. There were several choices for the main course, including meats, veggies, tagliatelli with truffles (Nick’s dinner the previous night), and trout with spinach. We both ordered trout with spinach. Throughout this blog, I have observed that if a main course included spinach, I order it!

Bled has a specialty cake called cremeschnitte, which consists of  crispy puff pastry filled with vanilla cream custard. That was our dessert, along with ice cream. After dessert, Katerina gifted us with a lovely coaster that she said she hoped we would put on our breakfast table to hold our morning coffee or tea, to remind us of our trip. She also gave us a group photo from our afternoon at the winery in Hungary.  One more gift was very personal.  In addition to celebrating birthdays, the people of Katerina’s country celebrate  Name Days.  That means that they celebrate the Feast Day of the saint whose name they share. Many typical  American names, no matter what the religion of the person may be, are the names of saints. Nick ‘s name and mine were easy. I knew that Saint Nicholas Day is Dec. 6, but I didn’t know that the Feast Day of Saint Barbara (Barbora in Czech) is Dec. 4. For those whose names did not correspond to a saint, Katerina used middle names. I was touched by her thoughtfulness. Nick and I will be thinking of her and Prague on December 4 and December  6. Also, Nick gave Katerina a  photo of Rick Steves  that appeared on the cover on the Sunday Times Magazine  of March 29, 2019,  that he printed and mounted. She said she would keep in her office.

10,101 steps