Bled, Slovenia: Alps and astonishment

The color of the water is deeply green, and it is irresistible not to slide into it. A welcome coolness spreads through my body in the heat. The mountain air is clear and high, far from the overwhelming heat by the Adriatic Sea. My laps are slow and gentle, and I turn on my back to admire the painting which I am a part of. The mountain peaks which surround the small lake are covered in snow, and dark green pine trees climb the hills all the way down to the turquoise green water. The sky is high and clear blue. The Castle of Bled guards the whole painting with a proud expression.

Lake Bled is situated in northwestern Slovenia, close to the border to Austria. The atmosphere here reminds of Austrian mountain villages, while southern Slovenia relates more to Croatia and Italy, with olivetrees, vineyards and villages with roman architecture.

Most things in Bled are connected to the lake, which is heated by warm springs. The water has been awarded the international ”Blue Flag” for its excellent quality. Pletnas, traditional boats made of wood, are quietly sliding around in the water. The pletnas are rowed with firm hand by rowing men. Only those born in Bled are allowed to become rowing men, since they are the only ones considered to have the competence to maneuver the pletnas in the correct way. The only island of the lake, the tear-shaped Blejski Otok, can only be reached by pletna or by human swim laps from the beach.

Harmony, respect of the environment and authenticity are all things that the young nation of Slovenia stands for. Slovenia has 2 million inhabitants, and belongs to the countries in Europe where the land area is highly covered by forest. The clear alpine air and the clean water belong to the best of their kind in the world, and the capital of Ljubljana was awarded ”Green Capital” in Europe in 2016.

2016 was also the year when Slovenia celebrated its 25-year-anniversay as a sovereign state, enthustically encouraged by the neighbors in Croatia. Slovenians and Croatians have, in all times, stayed friends and supported each other. In modern time, the Slovenians sent firemen and equipment to support in the large fires outside of Split.

Reluctantly, I jump out of the crystal-clear green water onto the wooden landing slides of the pletnas. I have finished my lap around the small island and seen the church from all its beautiful angles. The air smells of lake and of sunburned wood. A light breeze caresses the lake of fairytales. The feeling of being in the Alps is strong, and in sharp contrast to the salty rocks of the Adriatic Sea. A few hours trip has changed my whole world. Because that is just how it feels to travel in Slovenia, and to arrive in Bled. Like stepping into a quiet and breathless fairytale – or in a gigantic movie set in ”The Sound of Music”.