Continuing on from the Bled Castle, we drove to the west side of the lake to where we could catch a boat to the monastery. Near the north shore of the lake, I saw some more beautiful Slovenian scenery and I caught the photo above near the north shore. On the western edge of the lake, we were able to take the photo below with the castle and the monastery in the photo with us. As nice as the photos may look, they do not capture, in its entirety, the splendid beauty of this place. Some of the lodges and hotels on the south shore the of the lake must be wonderful honeymoon and weekend retreats. If I remember correctly, Austria is not too far behind these mountains…
While we were posing for photos on the lake shore, some ducks and a pair of swans came to inquire if we were carrying any food for them. Sabina’s Mom had sent us with a few fresh loaves of her wonderful Slovenian dark bread. A day or two earlier when I told her how much I liked it, she has been baking industriously to keep me in a full supply. When I departed some days later, she sent me off with some “takeaway” bread and I fondly remember eating it in the airport in Rome as I wrote (yet another) term paper for school.
As cute as the swans look, they were a bit aggressive. I caught the video below as Sabina was lured by their beauty, later to be surprised by their assertiveness.
After we had our fill of photos and of the swans, we boarded our boat that would take us to the monastery island.
En route to the island, using Sabina as an interpreter, I chatted up our boat captain. He has been rowing these boats to and from the monastery his whole life. He said that his father and grandfather had this same trade and passed it to him. We asked if his son was going to be an oarsman and he sadly said that “no,” he would not be. It seems his son has other business ventures that he is interested in. I asked if the man had grandsons and he said that he did. I suggested to him that maybe one of his grandsons would be interested and he could pass the family trade to him.
As we neared the monastery, I captured this photo. As I was saying earlier, the beauty of this place cannot be overstated. The sapphire blue water and the images that it reflected of these forests and medieval buildings sparked a certain romance and magic that is rare in this world. I looked at the beautiful colors, listened to the birds chirping and the water lapping against the side of the boat and enjoyed the cool breeze coming off the water. Along the horizon, tall and beautiful alpine mountains climbed towards the sky. I would like to come back some day and spend a week at this lake just relaxing, hiking and enjoying nature and the views.
Built six centuries ago, the Franciscan Monastery is in wonderful condition. Its location on the island provides some of the best views of Bled and its castle perched up on the hillside.
I watched an episode on Lonely Planet (Globe Trekker) wherein Ian Wright sleeps in the former Yugoslavian President Joseph Tito’s bed. Tito kept a residence on the lake and judging by the beauty of this place, I can understand why. Ian paid a few extra bucks and was able to sleep not only in Tito’s room, but in his actual bed. I’m not for sure if this is the Presidential Residence that is now serving as a hotel, but I think so. If anyone can positively identify it as this building, please send an email or post a comment below.
The centerpiece of the island is the Church of the Assumption of Mary. There are 99 steps to get from the lake to the church making for an interesting and beautiful climb.
Most of these shots are Sabina’s and my thanks to her for not only being a wonderful host, but also for letting me plagiarize her pics. I hope these photos capture the essence of the monastery and its island. If you ever make it to Slovenia, you must drop by and check it out.
And finally, a photo of me in front of the bell tower…
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