Bled and and Bohinj: Paragliding and peace in Slovenia

Well, Bled, I showed up sick, looking forward to a relaxing few days by the lake, taking in the beauty and the swans. Getting off the night train from Worgl- which, incidentally was an experience since of course no other routes to Slovenia were open since Germany had closed its border except this 1:38 am train. No guards checked tickets, and each compartment went a different direction during the trip, so I wasn’t sure I was on the right one, especially since they’d also shortened the train. Finally at day break, we stopped somewhere called Lesce-Bled and I jumped off prematurely, choosing to walk 4km rather than take it on to Kranj and then take a bus back to Bled.
The walk itself was actually really scenic- a nice walking and biking pathway by the road with emerald green rivers, nature, and chirping birds at 7am.

As soon as I got into Bled, though, I could tell the books were right. Asian tourists emerged, taking pictures and inching closer and closer to all the swans and ducks. I found my hostel- a villa up on a ridge overlooking the lake, actually, and they were more than accommodating. They did my laundry and invited me to wait in their comfy common room until the room opened up. I waited a bit and then went into town to go pick up my paragliding ticket and get some groceries. Man is Slovenia cheap. A bunch of fruit, some orange juice for this cold, and an amazing red pepper paste ran me about 4 euros. I actually didn’t know what to hand her because I was expecting it to be higher. Across the street, I grabbed a vanilla cream slice, the speciality here apparently (declines, but a bit too rich for an entire slice in my opinion) and a huge loaf of fresh bread, and walked around the lake.

 As gorgeous as it was, I have to say it felt really commercialized, which I think is the general consensus among Slovenians too. So as nice as my hostel was (including a private balcony overlooking the lake and the prettiest old- style windows you can imagine) I didn’t feel too guilty taking a long nap in the afternoon and then checking out the next morning before paragliding.
At 8:30, with the help of an amazing Slovenian boat guide who told me exactly where to stand (bus stops in Slovenia aren’t the most well-marked), I headed to Bohinj for paragliding. The guides picked me up in a small, muddy Jeep, and I wasn’t too sure where we were going but it was exciting. She told me that Slovenia is definitely seeing more tourists every year, and last year, the first tourists from the Middle East even started showing up. After 2 gondola rides, we got to our take off point. She gave me some close instructions and next thing I knew, we were in the air, 1650m up overlooking the amazing greenery of Triglav National Park and the tiny lake Bohinj below. It was exhilarating and also just really comfortable at the same time. Closer to the bottom, she asked if I wanted to feel the “G force,” which meant that seconds later we were spinning super quickly downward. So glad I said yes.

 At the bottom I had a better chance to explore and walk around Lake Bohinj, her favorite part, mostly because it’s in the middle of Triglav National Park and therefore can’t be touched and spoiled the way Bled has. It was so much more pristine, mirror-like, and peaceful than Bled. The tiny church added character, and the few people who were there looked relaxed, enjoying nature at its best. Only a few line kayakers graced the middle of the huge lake. I really wished I could have spent longer. If you come to this area of Slovenia, Bled is worth seeing, but I would highly recommend spending more time around Bohinj and in the National Park, which doesn’t have the over-commercialized feel Bled now does.

 At the bus station waiting for my bus to Ljubljana, ran into a French girl who was staying nearby, in a little guest house with almost the whole house to herself and a very warm host. Oh well, that experience for after Ljubljana!



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