Lake Bled, Slovenia: Summer Tobogganing, Bled Castle, and an Insanely Photogenic Lake

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This isn’t strictly a museum post, although we did visit a museum inside Bled Castle (of which more later), but my trip to Lake Bled was amazing, so I couldn’t resist sharing some of it!  As you can see, the lake is stunning, but scenery alone does not a day out make.  Truthfully, one of my main motivations for visiting Lake Bled was the summer toboggan run I’d read about, and it did not disappoint!

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I first spotted the toboggan track from across the lake, and was honestly kind of intimidated.  It was situated on the side of a huge, steep hill, and actually looked pretty scary, not least of all because the cars you rode on appeared to be made of plastic.  I pressed through the fear for once, because it did look super fun.  You can either walk up the hill, or take the chair lift, but since the ticket price includes the chair lift, why in the hell would you choose to walk?  Though the views from the top are fantastic, you don’t really have much time to appreciate them once you get strapped in to your little yellow sled, as you’re too busy concentrating on not dying.

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Seriously, the cars aren’t attached to the track in any permanent way; they just kind of slap them back on the rail after they get detached at the bottom and sent back up via the chair lift. And you control the speed yourself, via the brake/accelerator attached to your sled.  Despite all these perils, I can’t recommend this highly enough.  It was probably some of the most fun I’ve ever had.  I only got to go down the hill twice, but I could have happily stayed here all day if the tickets weren’t so damn expensive.

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The other main activities around Lake Bled, other than eating ice cream (which I of course indulged in) are taking the gondola (or row boat) out to the island to see the church, or walking up a steep-ass hill to see the castle.  Surprisingly, despite my distaste for exertion, we opted to see the castle, as they were packing the gondolas full to bursting, and I didn’t much fancy a sweltering boat trip whilst boxed in by sweaty strangers.  The long slog up the hill was helped somewhat by the ice cream vendor conveniently situated at the bottom of the trail.  A generous scoop of chocolate hazelnut gelato can even turn a hike into less of a chore.

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Upon reaching the castle, we were greeted with even more steps, plus an 8 euro admission charge.  Having paid (there was no way I was just going to walk straight back down again), we then proceeded into the small museum housed within the castle.

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Despite the presence of terrible wax figures, the museum wasn’t really anything special.  I think most people just come for the view, so the museum was a bit of an afterthought.  There was a section about geology, and then some information about the history of the region, which was accompanied by wax representations of peoples who had lived in the area.  The most interesting part for me was a room upstairs with a video about the history of the spas at Lake Bled, with accompanying photographs.  Nearly everything in the museum had an English translation, so there weren’t any language issues; there just wasn’t a whole lot of stuff there.

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Naturally, if you’ve made it up the hill, you’re going to want to take some pictures of the view, which we duly did.  There are a few shops and restaurants in the castle area, including a wine cellar, but the only other attraction we visited was the print shop (where I totally got suckered into buying a print. The paper was handmade!  I couldn’t resist!), which also featured a wax preacher at the top of some stairs, and a small exhibit about the history of printing in Slovenia.

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Strolling back down the stairs was markedly more pleasant than trudging up them, not least because I got the pleasure of passing panting people (how’s that for alliteration?) on their way up.  There was an attractive church at the bottom of the hill, and of course, more ice cream.

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As we could hear distant thunder, and the threat of rain was upon us, we didn’t linger too much longer in Bled.  I feel slightly guilty about not visiting the island or trying the famous cream cake, but I suppose it just gives me an excuse to return.  Though I still might pass on the cream cake, as it looked more like a slab of custard topped with whipped cream than an actual cake, and I have a special loathing for non-frozen custard.

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The views, lake, and toboggan run all get 5/5.  Perfection.  The castle museum only gets 2/5, but like I said, I don’t think people are hiking up there for the museum, and I’ve no complaints about the view from there.  This will be the first post in a series on Slovenia and Graz, Austria, so expect to hear a lot more about the area in the coming few weeks!

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