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Lake Bled Slovenia August 2013

Lake Bled Slovenia August 2013

Our first stop in Slovenia is the Bled Castle (Slovene: Blejski grad), which is a medieval castle standing on a rock about 100m above the Lake Bled. A Romanesque tower stood in the place of the present castle in 1004, while parts of the castle were added the period of 800 years. The views from the castle grounds are wonderful and there is a restaurant and small café to enjoy the views. The panoramic view is breath taking. In the middle of Lake Bled is the Bled Island, which is the only natural island in Slovenia. The island has several buildings, the main one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja), built in its current form near the end of the 17th century. Many legends exist connected to the island, one of which is related to a young widow Poliksena once lived at the Bled Castle, who had a bell casted for the chapel on the island in memory of her husband. During the transport of the bell, a terrible storm struck the boat and sank it together with the crew and the bell, which to this day is said to ring from the depths of the lake. After the widow died, the Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to the Bled Island. It is said that whoever rings this bell and thereby gives honour to Virgin Mary gets his wish come true.  
 
Next, we went to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovania, sometimes described as a mini-Prague. The old town is a blend of Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau buildings, watched over by a medieval castle. The place has lots of outdoor cafés and a relaxed, youthful vibe; its cuisine and wines are surprisingly good - and affordable. Before we left Slovania, we went to the Postojna Cave (Slovene: Postojnska jama) which is a 20,570m long karst cave system in which 4km is covered by an electric train that runs as far as the Big Mountain (Velika Gora) cavern. It is the largest cave in the “classic karst” and the most visited show cave in Europe. The railway lines were laid in the cave in 1872, and it's extremely cold inside the caves at a constant temperature of between 8°C and 10°C with a humidity of 95%. We stood under one of the five signs identifying the language (we went for the english version0, and a guide escorted us through halls, galleries and caverns. These are dry galleries, decorated with a vast array of white stalactites shaped like needles, enormous icicles and even fragile spaghetti. From the Velika Gora cavern we continued across the Russian Bridge, built by prisoners of war in 1916, through the 500m-long Beautiful Caves (Lepe Jame) that are filled with wonderful ribbon-shaped stalactites and stalagmites two million years old (it takes 30 years to produce 1mm of stalactite). The tour continues south through the Winter Hall (Zimska Dvorana), past the Diamond Stalagmite and the Pillar Column, which have become symbols of the cave. We then entered the Concert Hall (Koncertna Dvorana), which is the largest in the cave system and can accommodate 10,000 people for musical performances. There is such a bizarre pink creatures that we saw in a tank at the end of the tour which is called the Proteus anguinus, unique 'human fish'.



Lake Bled Slovenia August 2013

Our first stop in Slovenia is the Bled Castle (Slovene: Blejski grad), which is a medieval castle standing on a rock about 100m above the Lake Bled. A Romanesque tower stood in the place of the present castle in 1004, while parts of the castle were added the period of 800 years. The views from the castle grounds are wonderful and there is a restaurant and small café to enjoy the views. The panoramic view is breath taking. In the middle of Lake Bled is the Bled Island, which is the only natural island in Slovenia. The island has several buildings, the main one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja), built in its current form near the end of the 17th century. Many legends exist connected to the island, one of which is related to a young widow Poliksena once lived at the Bled Castle, who had a bell casted for the chapel on the island in memory of her husband. During the transport of the bell, a terrible storm struck the boat and sank it together with the crew and the bell, which to this day is said to ring from the depths of the lake. After the widow died, the Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to the Bled Island. It is said that whoever rings this bell and thereby gives honour to Virgin Mary gets his wish come true.  
 
Next, we went to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovania, sometimes described as a mini-Prague. The old town is a blend of Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau buildings, watched over by a medieval castle. The place has lots of outdoor cafés and a relaxed, youthful vibe; its cuisine and wines are surprisingly good - and affordable. Before we left Slovania, we went to the Postojna Cave (Slovene: Postojnska jama) which is a 20,570m long karst cave system in which 4km is covered by an electric train that runs as far as the Big Mountain (Velika Gora) cavern. It is the largest cave in the “classic karst” and the most visited show cave in Europe. The railway lines were laid in the cave in 1872, and it's extremely cold inside the caves at a constant temperature of between 8°C and 10°C with a humidity of 95%. We stood under one of the five signs identifying the language (we went for the english version0, and a guide escorted us through halls, galleries and caverns. These are dry galleries, decorated with a vast array of white stalactites shaped like needles, enormous icicles and even fragile spaghetti. From the Velika Gora cavern we continued across the Russian Bridge, built by prisoners of war in 1916, through the 500m-long Beautiful Caves (Lepe Jame) that are filled with wonderful ribbon-shaped stalactites and stalagmites two million years old (it takes 30 years to produce 1mm of stalactite). The tour continues south through the Winter Hall (Zimska Dvorana), past the Diamond Stalagmite and the Pillar Column, which have become symbols of the cave. We then entered the Concert Hall (Koncertna Dvorana), which is the largest in the cave system and can accommodate 10,000 people for musical performances. There is such a bizarre pink creatures that we saw in a tank at the end of the tour which is called the Proteus anguinus, unique 'human fish'.