I said goodbye to my dad, Vienna, and the funniest, weirdest host, Florian, today as I made the journey into Slovenia with my sights set on Lake Bled. The whole train ride was supposed to take a little over 10 hours to complete with stops and changes, by far the longest leg yet of the whole trip. I sat on the train journaling about all the challenges and triumphs I have experienced on the trip and the people I have met on the way. While with my dad I had not met nearly as many people as when I was traveling solo, so I kind of felt some regrets as I reviewed the first half of my journey. I overhead some English speakers from Scotland and talked to them for a bit and ended up sitting with them on the train. Turns out they were headed to Bled as well. Thank God I met them. Not only were they ridiculously hilarious and quirky but they told me I was making the train ride to Bled longer than it should be. They saved me 3 hours of sitting at some train stop twiddling my thumbs. I followed them around like a little duckling since I had no clue where to go. I had no hostel booked so I went in hoping for the best and ended up getting a great hostel for dirt cheap. After we parted ways, I was dying to just relax in the water the whole day but that is not the way I am wired. I explored the area and found a path leading towards what I believed to be Bled Castle. The castle has been around for 1000 years and although it may not be overly impressive on its own, the view of Bled below takes your breath away. A friend talked about how great of a place Bled is and all the majestic pictures were a teaser; I never thought I would have an opportunity to be here. I stood there looking down at the lake and town in front of me and just shook my head in disbelief. All the cities I have been to had worthwhile sites and views but in this quiet town in the valley of the mountains, I could not help but feeling blessed to be here. I continued my hike with the thoughts of swimming seducing me towards the water’s edge. An island sits a little off center of the middle of the lake with a church taking over the majority of the land. Most people hire a boat or row to the island but being the adventurous person that I am, i swam to the church. The swim was only 15 minutes but I took my time while looking up at the castle and Julian Alps that surround the area. Once I got to the island I felt like Sandra Bullock at the end of Gravity as she took those first few steps on land. With bare feet and completely drenched I dried to convince the guy to let me get a quick peek at the church but he did me one better by giving me some great advice on some food I have to eat and hikes I must try. For me, the history and monuments of these cities brought me here, but the people I meet and the customs I experience are what I will remember most and keep with me forever. Getting late, I swam and hiked back to the hostel for some much needed rest. With hostels being the great meeting places that they are, I met some girls from Ireland while watching the World Cup. We talked about how people from Ireland rarely speak Irish (it is more of a village kind of thing) and the differences in our accents. We shared stories about our journeys and just basked in the fact that we are so far from our homes and we are seeing places most people only dream about. I only have two nights booked but Bled may keep me around a little while longer.
Day 26: Lake Bled