Have you ever seen a church you can swim to? It regularly tops lists of the most beautiful places in the world and I am proud to say that Lake Bled is actually on my doorstep. The tourists say it’s a hidden gem, a secret, a land of your dreams or alpine pearl.. but I call it home.
You know how people travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people ignore at home? And how one country’s dusty backyard is another country’s dream vacation? Well, I guess I am realizing now that if you realize you don’t need that much in your life and you know how to appreciate the given, you can travel much longer than you thought before. Starting by exploring your own backyard! So, let me walk you through mine.
Even though me and Uroš are not big fans of churches, the views at Lake Bled are seriously to die for! At one end, B l e d C a s t l e is peering down from the top of a craggy cliff, on other, fairytale church (with a bell that grants wishes) is nestled on the island at the center. To top that, surrounded by lush green mountains and exquisite turquoise lake, makes it a sight you simply have to stare at.
We had a blissful stay at G R A N D H O T E L T O P L I C E – located right on the shores of the Lake Bled, instantly greeted with flowers & that clear spring smell. The panoramic views & the stillness of the lake were the first thing that caught my attention. While settling into our cosy room, I realized we were given a private stone balustraded terrace with superb views of Lake Bled. Imagine my excitement levels going through the roof!
The following morning we were waken up by the light that was pouring in from the mountains to illuminate the most incredible scene. We pretty much spent the morning on our ultra-romantic balcony, relaxing and feeling like we are the only human beings in the world.
For lunch we headed to the B L E D C A S T L E R E S T A U R A N T. Once at the top we were taken back at how much we could actually see – the most unreal views of Lake Bled and the surrounding mountains. So peaceful.
The restaurant offers modern interpretations of traditional dishes and drinks. We were greeted with a champagne and delicious hello from the kitchen, followed by a cold starter and then extraordinary carrot soup with a scallop. For the mains we tried out the angler’s tail on mashed vegetables and saffron sauce that I will never forget, Uroš had tasted the slow cooked beef cheeks with spring vegetables and parmesan croquettes – both of the dishes were terrific. As surprise the chef saved the best until the last – rich and creamy chocolate mousse with forest fruit ice cream and strawberry trifle with panna cotta and tarragon macaroon. We were pretty impressed and felt like being sent straight to heaven – and I even try hard not to sound exaggerating, but it was oh, so glorious!
The atmosphere is luxurious, all the tables have spaces between them, making it feel very intimate. The wine list is great, the food is fresh and represented like the work of art, the views are straight from the postcard so it is best suited to daytime dining and the service is polished – nothing less than what you’d expect from a high-end restaurant praised by locals and visitors alike. Most certainly we will be revisiting in the near future, it is the single best restaurant in Slovenia, in our humble opinion. Oh, and a secret tip? *With a reservation, you don’t pay to enter the castle. Win-win!
We have spent the afternoon on the lake, rented a r o w – b o a t at Grand Hotel Toplice and made it complete with a champagne. Paddling out to the lake was a therapy session itself. For a while we just sat there & enjoyed the quietness of the area.
Coming back we were spoiled on the spacious private lakeside lido. Guests can swim in the lake, but the water was still too chilly this time of the year.
We finished the evening off at the hotel’s restaurant, which again has a lake shore setting, serves tasty local and international dishes as well as first class Slovenian wines. Served another 4 course meal, second time this day (!), felt like we gained a muffin top, but could not possibly ever say no to such culinary delights. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day.
The next morning the weather was trying to be moody and grey, so we guessed it is ideal for a health break at our hotel’s boutique wellness area with a various treatments (pretty magical) and an indoor thermal pool fed directly from a spring and replaced every night! High standard definitely, but what I liked most was the interior design, a small oasis with Roman style columns.
After the amazing buffet breakfast we climbed up to the summit of O j s t r i c a and O s o j n i c a, the hike was painless and very rewarding. That’s the thing about Bled – whether you walk up into the mountains or cycle around the lake, the view is ever present. We kept stopping as every other minute there was an Instagram-worthy view.
We finished off our trip with k r e m š n i t a (Cream Cake), Bled’s culinary specialty. This is something that can’t be missed – get spoiled at the top of the Castle again. Nothing beats a lovely terrace and a commanding position over the lake.
Now you can see there’s a very good reason why Slovenia has the word “LOVE” right in the middle of its name: because when you visit, you will fall in love with it as well. It is offering more charm than many major European destinations, only with fewer crowds. But be careful: you should hurry up as it is gaining recognition as the homeland of first lady Melania Trump.
❥ I feel sLOVEnia! What about you? Do you feel your country? If you could live in any place in the world where would you choose to live?