Hello, are you still there? I know it’s been a while, like, a really, really long while. But life-insanity is starting to slow down a bit, and there are so many colorful travel photos in my back-log to share. Some highlights from the past few months? I wrote a book! If you enjoy my musings at Amsterdam & Beyond, you’ll probably love my take on Amsterdam in The HUNT Guide. It comes out in August and I am so excited to flip through the pages and hold my words in my own two hands! I write for different travel apps and sites around the web, but this is my first published print work.
Ohh, and I also bought an apartment. A horribly crappy apartment. It’s located in the canals, it has huge bright windows in every room, and it was just the right size. Other than that it was a sad shell, built in the 1960’s and not given much love since. And so I made floor plans, knocked down walls, steamed off wallpaper, commissioned builders, removed tiles, bought faucets, a kitchen, doors, and a big-ass bath tub. And two months later, voilà! With a little bit of imagination and a lot of hard work, my horrible-crappy apartment is slowly transforming into my dream home :) So those are the two big projects that took up most of my spare time the past few months, plus regular work, friends, family, and travel (as per usual!)
Last September, Kai and I took a trip to Lake Bled in Slovenia. I stumbled upon these beauties earlier this week when picking out a few photos to print and hang in my new place, and was inspired to share!
On our way to Lake Bled, we toured around Italy and Slovenia by car, stopping in Venice and Trieste in Italy and Ljubljana in Slovenia (one of my new favorite European cities!) It was a relaxing road trip with the end goal of spending few nights cabin camping by Lake Bled. I’ll start somewhat out-of-order with the Lake Bled photos, and if I’m good and keep up this whole blogging thing, I will get to the Trieste and Ljubljana ones next :)We stayed in this cabin I found on Airbnb. It was really adorable, situated on a river and very close to Radovljica which had some great restaurants, a gingerbread shop, and a beekeeping museum. And it was only a 10 minute drive to Lake Bled, which was awesome since we were outside of the touristy bustle that tends to surround the lake, but had east access to lake trips and the surrounding area. One night a thunder-storm rolled through, and so we played cards by candlelight in the cabin, drinking beers cooled by the river, using flashlights to see our cards. And despite the restaurant photos later in this post, we did cook dinner one night over a big, open fire. We also attempted to cook eggs and bacon for breakfast a few mornings, but we’re not really campers and ended up having burnt bread and runny eggs!Ohh hello, who is hiding there?Around the camp site were a lot of farm animals – in the morning, roosters would descend on our fire-pit, pecking up crumbs from the night before. I can’t say I love being woken up by loud roosters in the morning, but it was all part of the fun, odd Slovenian experience!
Visiting Lake Bled was the highlight of the trip for both Kai and myself. We got there later in the afternoon, and instead of hopping on one of the Pletna Boats to get to the island, we decided to rent a small rowing boat so we could spend more time exploring, rather than sticking to the leisure boat’s timeline. The trip over was absolutely dreamy, with purple clouds floating in the background, the church on the island off in the distance, and my row-boat chauffeur looking mighty fine as well ;) Hats off to Kai who rowed us the whole way over, while I sat there taking photos and throwing grapes at ducks and my boyfriend.On the flip side, minus points for Kai who kept taking blurry Ali-photos. I got some awesome shots of my chauffeur but apparently it’s somewhat difficult to row and take photos at the same time! So ^^ this is the best Ali-photo we got!The island itself was adorable. Slovenian architecture is prim and elegant, and the lawns and greenery of the island were beautifully manicured. We found a dock where the plenta boats were moored, and it looked like a good swimming spot so we hopped in! I love that Kai is a water bug just like me. We swam around until our fingers and toes got pruney (which actually happens so you have better grip in the water – I never knew!!) and then hopped out after the sun went down to return to our little row-boat. The wind was starting to pick up on our row back, but luckily it was blowing in the direction of the shore. So we had a pretty speedy return, racing along the last plenta boat to depart the island.The next day we wanted to do something slightly more active, so we looked into local hikes that weren’t too far from Lake Bled. We decided to check out Tolmin Gorge, which was €4 to enter and had well maintained paths throughout gorge. It was a fun walk, but as it was such a hot and sunny day out, it kinda sucked to be down in the cool shade all morning! I’d recommend going on a grey day – it’s a fun activity to do without the sun, as you’re a few stories deep in rock and moss and don’t really see the daylight! It was also quite busy, with lots of people walking along the path, and in retrospect I think we both would have given it a miss. It was a fun hike but I think we’d look for something a bit more off the beaten path next time.That said, the waters were a crystal clear blue, and at times I felt like I was hiking in Thailand or Vietnam versus somewhere in Europe.We left the gorge after about two hours of trekking along the path. The sun was still bright in the sky, and so instead of hopping right back into our rental car, we stopped at a nearby restaurant to have some drinks in the sun.In the afternoon, we drove about an hour the nearby Lake Bohinj. While Lake Beld is quite picturesque, it’s also quite populous. It’s hard to find parking, there are lots of other tourists about, and while it’s definitely worth a visit, you’re there with at least a hundred other people who all think the same. Lake Bohinj is a hidden gem. It’s not as touted about as Lake Bled, but it’s equally if not more so beautiful. It’s quiet and more secluded, and after hiking alongLake Bohinj’s shore for 15 minutes, Kai and I found a small, secluded beach in the sun all to ourselves. We laid in the hot rays, swam in the cold lake, and got ice creams before and after our beach basking. I don’t have any photos of Lake Bohinj as I kept my camera in the car on day two in favor of savoring the day. I did however take these snaps later in the evening as the clouds rolled in and we drove back to our cabin.There were a few things in the area we didn’t get to check out, such as the Savica Waterfall, Kozjak (which is a waterfall hidden in a cave where you can swim!) and a nearby bee farm. Slovenia also has a pretty rich wine country that we also unfortunately did not get to sample on this trip. However, I have a feeling we will be back again for more hiking and nature, and maybe even some wine next time around!Slovenian food is . . . interesting. The closest thing I can compare it to is the rich soups, stews, and hearty roasts I ate a lot of when visiting the Czech Republic. It feels like you’re eating food straight out of a medieval castle, with lots of tender roasts, dumplings, and crunchy breads (the kind of food I imagine they would eat in Game of Thrones!) While we cooked one night over an open fire at our cabin, the second night we got a bit more dolled up and went to Lectar, which had awesome Slovenian food and I’d highly recommend!However, before we ate, we wandered down into the basement (which I thought was a gift shop), where we found the most charming gingerbread bakery.Here, two little ladies rolled out cookies, popped them in the oven, and topped them with pristine frosting swirls. It was literally like wandering into a fairytale, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the very bakery where the enchanted gingerbread man came to life.After stocking up on cookies for family and friends back home, we headed upstairs for some nosh.The ambiance was rustic and fun, and we made sure to order all of the most Slovenian sounding dishes on the menu.We started out with mushroom soup, and accidentally ordered the biggest carafe of wine. It was listed for €8 and we weren’t 100% sure of the size, so we went for it and it was definitely sized for an (adult) family of four.
To accompany our wine, we split dumplings and a vegetarian share plate that had everything from warm roasted cabbage to deep-fried cheese. To be honest, I have no idea what some of the other items were on the plate, but they were delicious and were perfectly paired with numerous dumplings :)We also killed a big stew of meat and vegetables served in a deep fried bread bowl, but it was so savory and delectable I wasn’t able to snap a picture before we dove in!As Kai was the designated driver, I was left with the task of finishing our six gallon decanter of wine.Challenge accepted!The next day we woke up slowly and packed up the car. We stopped again in Italy for lunch on our way back to the airport, but I’ll share those photos in another post.
Overall we had an awesome time, and for nature lovers, I’d strongly recommend a trip to Slovenia. There are gorges to be scaled, caves to be explored, and lakes to dunk in! An outdoor lover’s dream!