I’m mighty hungover but it’s time to put my love affair with Slovenia into words.
Arrive in Maribor from Vienna by car(pool). Train to Ptuj, stay overnight and explore the next day. Train to Ljubljana then coach to Bled, spend two nights. (Blog post 2:) Back to Ljubljana for mum’s last night, then two nights there on my own, one day spent back at Bled.
The number one reason I loved Slovenia was the people. Our carpool driver Marko was a Maribor native, desperate for us to enjoy his city and country. He joined us for dinner, introduced us to local customs, and gave us a walking tour of Maribor. His advice was invaluable and gave us the best possible start to our Slovenian tour.
(Despite the negative report from my guidebook, nighttime Maribor was lively with local music, food and drink. One night probably enough though.)
We headed to Ptuj that evening, to a strange little youth hostel in a school – super cheap though, so no complaining! With daylight, the city proved to be charming and historical, with the castle and its view over the city having an essence of Prague. No tourists, naturally.
Travelling to Bled the next day introduced us to the biggest problem facing travellers in Slovenia; the journey wouldn’t have taken more than two hours by car, but we spent around five hours across three trains and two buses. Talk about wasting daylight hours on transport!
Worried that Bled would be a tourist heap, my hopes weren’t that high. Thus I was completely overwhelmed when I found it to be just as beautiful as the photos I’d seen, if not more. The water really is that clear, so clean and refreshing – the banning of motorised boats on the water is to thank for this lack of pollution. There are a lot of swimmers and sightseers, of course, but they tended to be local sunseekers rather than holiday makers from afar.
Strolling around the lake is a must, at only three and a half miles (my favourite view of the island is from the south with Bled castle and the Julian Alps as a backdrop). Visiting the island is a relaxed way to spend an hour or so, taking the cultural boat trip across, but it costs €12 plus paying to get into the island church. Up to you.
So far so good, Slovenia.