Saturday, September 3, 2011

Slovenia Blue

After Finland and Sweden, Slovenia is the most forested country in Europe. About half of its territory is covered in trees. It has the happy distinction of being a small country nestled between the Adriatic Sea and Alps, creating a huge diversity of habitats, including stunning lakes and rivers. We spent some of almost every day in the water.

The most famous lake is Bled, a spectacular turquoise blue, warm lake, perfect for swimming and boating. At one end, on a forested little island is a beautiful church, and towering above, on an impossibly steep and narrow cliff is the Bled castle.

Almost every shot I took could have been a picture postcard. Bled is also a resort town, attracting many visitors, especially on a hot day in mid-August. There are numerous activities, splendid walking paths next to the lake, and hiking trails in the mountains above. One can swim, rent various types of boats, eat in a variety of restaurants from the humble to the exalted, gamble in the casino or picnic and sun bathe on the shore. It didn't feel crowded at all.

Swans and ducks posed for photos and eagerly accepted handouts. Quinn found this quite enthralling as the swans were almost as big as he.

We had wanted to rent a sailboat, but changed our minds as the sun was fierce and we were a bit concerned for our lily-white charge. Besides, we had heard that there was another even more beautiful lake further down the road, so after a couple of hours we decided to push on.

We ditched the crowds and headed for Bohinj, another lake at a slightly higher elevation which was reputed to be colder, but more secluded. We went eastwards up the mountainous road.

When we got to the lake, Quinn had fallen asleep, so we continued on up the mountain. We went as far as it would take us before the road ended in a large parking area. This was a trail head which led up the mountain next to a crystal clear stream. We managed to transfer Quinn into his backpack and headed up the trail.

Anyone who knows me is aware of how much mountain rivers and streams thrill me to the very core. I can almost see the sprites and fairies dancing along the surface and singing along with the rushing water. This one, with its incredibly huge boulders, looking for all the world as if a couple of giants had been tossing them carelessly around, was particularly charming. The air was hot and the water cold, a perfect combination.

When Quinn woke up, he was anxious to get down to the water's edge. He scrambled around the boulders like a little mountain goat and we followed behind as fast as we could. He isn't old enough to be afraid yet.

On our way back down the mountainside we stopped at Bohinj lake for a swim. I'm not sure if it is prettier than Bled, but it was quite pleasant to spend a few hours on its banks and dip ourselves into the water. After the icy cold river, it seemed quite warm to us.

Quinn had his water wings and floating alligator. He positively adores the water, just like his mother before him. Once, when Emily was about ten, a friend of mine dared her to stay in a very cold California lake by telling her he would pay her one dollar for every minute she remained in the water. I knew he was making a huge error in judgement. After twenty minutes I told her she really had to come out, my poor friend would likely have gone broke. She could have stayed in forever.

After Quinn's dip, while we were sitting on a blanket in the shade watching him, he performed a kind of conducting ritual towards the water, as if to cast a spell.

Any trip through the Slovenian countryside is bound to take one past numerous enchanting little churches. There is one on every hillside and in every village. Their steeples look rather Russian in influence to me, you see nothing like them in France.

On another hot day, we went to the Iska river for a splash. This little area is only a twenty minute drive from Ljubljana. It was positively crammed with cars and people, but again, no one got in our way and no one made the crowd seem too crowdy. There was no loud music, no screaming children, no annoying behavior of any kind. We all just found our corner of the riverbank, and staked out our section of water and got on perfectly well together.

The water was so low that everyone used it like a road, just walking down the center. I love the rocky river bottom, it encourages the making of bridges and dams.

We all had our water shoes on, as without them the stones are a bit hard on the feet. Quinn floated and cavorted and in general had another wonderful watery day.

1 comment:

  1. ooh I love these photos mom! Makes me want to go back!