Day 11: 30/03/19
Location: Venice, Italy (AM), Bled Hostel, Lake Bled, Slovenia (PM)
Miles Driven: 155
After a slow get up we headed east (bit of a given really) towards Slovenia. On the horizon was a snow topped mountain range. Wonderfully foreboding, it acted as a nice piece of symbolism to mark the part of our journey in which we left Western Europe behind us and journeyed into Eastern Europe. As we got closer to both the Austrian and Slovenian borders, the towns became undeniably Austrian, onion domed churches and all. The border crossing into Slovenia was underwhelming. Not expecting much going from one EU country to another, it still felt strange to drive through a border with not a single police officer, border guard, or official looking person in sight.
Having done our homework via our Lonely Planet guide, after we crossed into Slovenia, we stopped off at the first petrol station to buy a 7 day “vignette” – the road toll sticker that you must have in your window to avoid facing a €800 penalty. With wild camping illegal (and strictly enforced), and the campsites still closed for the winter, we headed to a hostel in Lake Bled, an area recommended to us indirectly from Chris’ cousin through his uncle. By the time we arrived and had cooked dinner, it was fairly dark, and we were tired. We made our way to our dorm. Inevitably, despite it being before 10pm, there was already someone asleep, snoring loudly. After all, would it really be a hostel if there wasn’t?! A very last minute addition to our packing list was ear plugs. Thankful for this decision, we had a blissfully peaceful nights sleep, completely unaware of the noises and other goings on around us.
Day 12: 31/03/19
Location: Lake Bled (AM), Just outside of Ljubljana (PM)
Miles Driven: 42
A glorious day. We spoke to our families (wishing our brilliant Mothers a happy Mother’s day), walked around the lake, walked up two fairly steep hills to admire the Lake from above, and worked on our lobster-red t-shirt tans – an essential for any British tourist. After a late lunch picnic by the lake, we awoke Natalie from her slumber and headed to our next home – an AirBnB just outside of Slovenia’s capital city: Ljubljana. Our host for the evening, Mitja, was very friendly, and we spent the evening swapping stories, tasting Slovenian Schnapps, and learning about the voluntary fire services of Slovenia.
Day 13: 01/04/19
Location: Ljubljana (AM), Novigrad, Croatia (PM)
Miles driven: 110
It is always surprising how relatively simple tasks, that take seconds at home, can magically eat away time when in a foreign country. On leaving our Airbnb, we drove to Ljubljana for a free walking tour that we had spotted online. The tour started at 11am, and we were about a 10 minute drive from the city. Our host, Mitja had kindly shown us where the cheapest parking was, so we knew exactly where to go. Leaving Mitja’s at 10:00 should give us plenty of time, right? Wrong. Finding the parking spot was simple. However deciphering the ticket machine less so. By the time we had worked out how much we needed, found an ATM to get cash, gone into a shop to buy something so that we could give the parking machine the correct money (of course it didn’t give change), gone back to the car, bought a parking ticket and displayed it in the window, it was 10:56. Our tour start time: 11:00. Google’s estimation of how long it would take to walk to the starting point of our tour: 16 minutes. Heads down, bottoms up, it was power walking time.
Luckily we made it just in the nick of time, and spent the following two hours learning about the history of Ljublana (which largely revolved around the building, demolishing, and re-buidling of bridges) as well as Ljublana’s best eating and drinking establishments. Our tour guide was interesting, knowledgeable, humurous, and exactly what you would want from a tour guide. Plus, it was free. Better yet, we got another shot of Slovenian Schnapps. What more could you ask for?!
After our tour, we made our way out of the city to find another camping spot. Unfortunately there were none around. Conscious not to be caught by the police illegally wild camping, we hastily left Slovenia for the next stop on our journey: Croatia.