This blog post was copied from www.travellinghewitts.com – the blog I maintained between 2015 and 2018 with Lena, my now ex-wife who I was travelling with at the time. I have no intention of going through the old posts to update them – the past is what it is and doesn’t change. Apologies if some of the context seems a little strange as a result!
Our last “real” stop on the trip was Slovenia. We started with the capital Ljublana and after that moved on to a little place near Bled. I’d not really appreciated how small Slovenia was and what a pleasant surprise it was. The capital city feels like a lovely little town – but with all the investment and care that is usually shown to a capital city. I’d been expecting Bled to be fairly touristy and full of sun-seekers. In reality the lake itself is tiny and it was not at all packed.
Ljublana Castle deserves a special mention – after a half days work we took a stroll to the cable car which takes you up and noticed that the guided tour and the audio guide entry price was the same so, obviously, we went for the guided tour. It was us and another couple alongside the guide and the actors. I hear you thinking “Actors, how terribly naff”. Amazingly, no, they struck the balance just right and pulled off Roman legionaries, Napoleonic soldiers and imprisoned wayward women with just a hint of tongue-in-cheek. Much better than sticking a stupid speaker to your ear. The castle itself is a perfect example of what can be done with a historic building – it’s still very much in use whilst remaining an interesting historic site. There are historic exhibits alongside modern photography exhibitions. Restaurants and shops that somehow don’t ruin the site. They hold open-air cinema and comedy festivals.
Stand Up Paddling on (in) Bled was an experience; of course my terrible balance landed me in the drink a few times. The lake itself is at the base of the Triglav national park and blessed with great views of the mountains. Like the country as a whole it’s well worth a visit. Slovenia has a wonderful feel to it; the people are friendly, the prices reasonable and the landscape beautiful. Lena hit the nail on the head when she described the county as “soft”. It is, it’s such a comfortable and relaxing place to be – the perfect stop before the long ride home.
The trip as a whole has been fantastic, a good mix of “Adventurous Albania” and the gradual transition back to Europe “proper”. We’ve met great people, had great food, visited beautiful places, overcame challenges, indulged in some luxuries, had accidents, been sick and generally had a great time. Sad to have to head home – part of me would have loved to turn south from Slovenia and make my way back down to the boat via all the places we missed – Serbia especially. We heard so many stories of the Yugoslav war that it would have been good to hear the version of history as told by the other side in the conflict. I regret not routing us via Pristina too; what we saw of Kosovo was brilliant but we had to cut somewhere and their capital city got cut. We’ll be back though.