coffee at the Castle

“Let’s have a cup of coffee,” I said.  Lojze shrugged his shoulders, “Or we could get a coffee in town.”  Certainly, the 5 euro per cup price was steep, but what you’re paying for is the view.  “I insist, it’s on me,” I replied knowing that I had to have a cup of coffee here.  How often does one find oneself at a cafe, inside of a castle, on a patio overlooking some of the most beautiful countryside in the world?  It was indeed a fine cup of coffee.

Sabina shot away with her Cannon & Lojze and I sipped our drinks.  She was getting a bit artsy and did a superb job capturing the castle; she does have a good eye for photos.  The sun was out and it was warm and pleasant.  I tried to savor the moment and soak in the atmosphere.

Later we visited the museum and the chapel inside the castle grounds.  I found the history of the area quite interesting; the Slavs moved into this area in the 6th or 7th Centuries A.D. and displaced or absorbed the previous inhabitants.  The museum had a lot of beautiful artifacts from the bronze age as well as more recent finds.  Sabina and I both took a lot of shots but as hers are on an SLR and have a much nicer look, I used her photos for this post.  The last two pics are inside the medieval printing shop and the monk’s wine shop.  While we didn’t buy any wine from the monks, I did pick up some antique looking post cards.


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Bled Castle

Next, Sabina took me to the beautiful Lake Bled.  I remember seeing Lake Bled on an episode of Globe Trekker (Lonely Planet).  Ian, the traveller host even slept in Joseph Tito’s Bed at his retreat, now a tourist hotel.  Located waaaay up towards the north of Slovenia on the border with Austria, Lake Bled is a glacial lake surrounded by beautiful woods and majestic mountains.

We brought brother Lojze along and he told me about the founding of Ljubljana by the Greek Mythological hero Jason & the Argonauts.  I guess while he was out roaming the world for the golden fleece, Jason dropped by this area and founded the city.  It has been since Junior High School that I studied Jason, I’ll have to look it up and do some reasearch…

While Lojze munched away on apples in the back seat, I shot some photos of the Slovenian countryside.  I suppose that it reminded me of northwest of Washington State, save for the Slovene language signs…

High up on a cliff above the pristine lake, Bled Castle has an amazing view of the lake and its island and monastery, of the town of Bled, and of the surrounding hills and mountains.  We drove straight to the castle and took the photo (below) later, when we were on the other side of the lake but I added it to this post as it shows the lofty location of the palace.

Before we headed up to the top of the castle hill, I shot this photo of Sabina and Lojze.  I was pretty excited to get up to the top to see the views.  Perhaps it’s that I love history, maybe it just seems very romantic or exotic to visit a castle, but I always feel quite enthusiastic to visit them.  And this one in particular as I had fallen in love with Bled after I had seen it on so many travel shows…

In the next photo, Lojze and I are coming up the trail to the castle with the town of Bled in the background.  When we came to the main gate I saw that it had a draw-bridge and a rampart gate above it with slits for arrows and an overhang that would allow soldiers to drop rocks or flaming objects on attackers.

Once we arrived at the top of the castle, I saw that it was more like a palace than a war fortress.  The grounds seemed to have all the amenities of a royal life; living areas, a nice patio with a stunning view of the lake and valley, a chapel, and a dining area.  We took our time and enjoyed the view and even had a cup of coffee (later post).

Looking towards the interior of the castle you can see the beautiful housing areas where the families lived.  This is really some choice real estate and I can imagine how nice it must have been to live here.  Now, both the chapel and the palace have been turned into museums, but we’ll also cover those in a later post.

Looking from the palace grounds towards the patio you can see the deck and its magnificent view of Bled and the lake.  Today, the patio serves as a cafe entertaining guests from around the world.  On this day, we were the only patrons, but I’m sure that in the summer time it is crowded with hundreds of tourists.

Out on the edge of the patio you can see the magnificent view of the town of Bled and the beautiful mountains beyond.  The architecture of the houses and churches certainly reminded me that I was in Europe rather than in, say, Colorado…

Looking towards the lake we can see the former President’s house and retreat.  Joseph Tito made took his weekend leaves here on the lake in the big white building in the photo below.  It has now been transformed into a hostel/hotel and you can pay some extra $ bucks to sleep in Tito’s actual bed.

Further up the lake, you can see the small island and its Monastery.  Later we would take a boat out to the monastery and capture some stunning photos of the castle.  The entire lake and its surrounding mountains and castle made a fairy tale like view that can only be appreciated when seen first hand.  I had to pinch myself repeatedly to make sure that this wasn’t a dream and that I was in fact in Bled high atop the castle overlooking the lake…


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Ljubljana Castle

We got an early start on the day and Sabina took me into town so that I could see Ljubljana in the daylight.  We had some scattered rain clouds and rain but the sky was clear enough to make a beautiful day.  We parked near the Republic Square (Ljubljana town square) and began the long climb up the mountain.  I never thought to go a kilometer or two away and shoot one from a distance but Dave at davestravelcorner.com was kind enough to let me borrow one that he shot (above).

Later, when we toured the museum, I learned a little about the history of this castle.  Excavations suggest that it has been continually inhabited since 12oo  B.C. and it is believed that the first fort settlements were built then.  First mention of the castle in written records was in 1144 when it was listed as a seat of the Carinthian dukes of the House of Spanheim.

In the 1400′s, the castle was built up to include walls, towers, the entry gate & drawbridge and a chapel.  Because no one lived in the castle that was of royalty, it fell into disrepair and was used as a military garrison and prison until modern times.  The castle was restored to its current condition starting in the 1960′s.

The view of the Ljubljana from the top of the castle hill was perfect.  We could see all around the city and it looked just charming.  I’m sure that it is no big deal to the Europeans, but to west coast Americans, its like being in a movie or fairy tale book.  Looking out from one of the tower windows, the Franciscan Cathedral with its distinctive pink color can be seen.

… the market set up in the town square…

Looking out over Ljubljana we had such a clear day and could see all the way to the hills and mountains.  The city bustled about and we enjoyed the nice view from one of the city’s best vantage points.  The photo below is shot from the outer wall looking inwards towards the castle’s inner courtyard.  The tall tower (where they fly the Slovenian flag) was under some reconstructive improvements.

I made a 360 degree video shot of the castle, the city, and the inner courtyard:

 

 

I wanted to go up to the top  of the tower to get a shot of the courtyard and the city below but it was closed due to the construction.  I was however, able to borrow this shot taken by Jacek Nowak.

On the way out of the castle, Sabina and I took some last photos before heading down to the market to get some lunch.  If you ever have a chance to visit Ljubljana, be sure to drop by the castle for a visit!


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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

Back to home page: http://scotttraveler.com