Lake Bled, Slovenia
Though we wanted more time in Ljubljana, we were headed into the mountains to Lake Bled. A quiet and tranquil place, we set off to walk around the lake, even though it was threatening rain. A castle perched on the point above the lake set the scene. We strolled along the lakefront path, about a quarter of the lakeshore. We stopped at a dock to catch a boat to the island in the lake. Hand-oared boat service shuttled us to the shore, where there were 99 steps to take us to the top of the island. Legend has it that the groom must carry his bride up the steps for good luck in their marriage.
More gift shopping, a coffee stop, and then a discussion about returning to the shore. Kate and Kevin brought their swim suits, so Ellen and I planned to catch the next boat back to shore carrying all of the gear. Unfortunately for the swimmers, the distance was shorter than they thought, and the wait for the next boat was longer than we thought. We found the intrepid swimmers shivering at the side of the lake. Kate, relying on the kindness of a friend, had borrowed a fleece. They quickly changed into dry clothes behind a dumpster, and we took off at a brisk pace for the buses. We got back in enough time to bolt over to a bakery to purchase bureks (coiled dough stuffed with meat or cheese) before we headed off to Venice.
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On the road to Ljubljana
Back on the bus, we are excited to see what Slovenia would bring. It’s a long bus ride: five hours, including the border crossing. Arrival in Ljubljana was expected about 5:30, with an evening in the old city.
But, the travel gods had other plans for us.
When we reached the border, the line to clear immigration was immense, and was not moving. Since we were in the special line for tour buses, with a grassy area nearby, many were getting off the bus to stretch. There was a group of college-aged students out on the grass, and suddenly they started singing.
Well, that was it – we were all soon off of our busses, and the directors met. This was a group of Turkish college students, on their way to Perugia. Their conductor had studied ancient Christian music of Anatolia, and the music they sang was very interesting – very different harmonies and rhythms compared to the bundle of Renaissance music in our folders. So, of course, we sang for each other. It is magical how two different cultures can meet and connect so quickly, on the side of the road. It was a particularly poignant exchange, considering recent events in Istanbul: who knows what they will face when they return home. Every embassy should have their own music group – imagine what a different world this could be.
It took three hours to clear the border – apparently the agents there are not amused with losing their jobs once Croatia implements the Schengen agreement. We were not amused either, arriving in Ljubljana about 10:00pm.