May 9, 2019
Environmentalists warn of imminent drinking water pollution for people living in the municipalities of Bled, Gorje, Žirovnica and Radovljica, whose water source is situated at Ovčja jama water protection area in Pernik.
Water originating from Triglav National Park is, or rather, should be, among that with the best quality in the entire country. Nevertheless, water coming from Pernik now has added chlorine since contamination with faeces was discovered several years ago due to the spread of farming on Mežakla and cutting down of the forests.
This April, a passer-by noticed a loaded truck from a construction company from Kranj driving up in Mežakla and unloading what appeared to be construction waste soil into a sinkhole in the otherwise pristine nature of a protected water area.
Bled Environmental Protection Society immediately informed the relevant authorities. The same day an inter-municipal inspector managed to catch the driver in action, and prevent any further dumping of the problematic soil.
When a few days ago the camera team of the national broadcaster headed to the site to take footage of the waste, the owner of the land first almost ran over the journalists with an excavator, then jumped out and scare them away with a pickaxe. The journalists called the police while the landowner and his son allegedly spent the night in a psychiatric ward in Begunje, claiming insanity.
The inspector ordered the problematic waste soil to be removed by the company that brought it there, while special supervision of the company’s activities has also been launched.
The problematic soil, which includes plastic, plaster, adhesives, concrete, asbestos plates and asphalt, according to the Bled Environmental Protection Society, for now remains where it is. However, according to colourant marker studies, conducted by the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering of the University of Ljubljana, water from the problematic area in Mežakla can trickle down the karst floor to the drinking water wells area in a mere 13 hours.
If visitors to Slovenia go to only one place outside the capital then it’s almost certainly to the picture perfect, chocolate box location of Lake Bled, famed for the views of the church on the island, castle on the hill, and kremšnita on the plate.
While four hours is just about enough to do it all, if you move fast, a day is recommended if you enjoy walking in the open air, and two days if you really want to soak it all in and see a little more of what the site has to offer, which includes swimming in summer, skiing and ice-skating in winter, and fairlytale views all the time.
The list of essentials around Lake Bled is fairly short and obvious. You’ll want to get good view of the castle and island, visit the island, and eat a kremšnita.
When it comes to the lake all eyes are on the island, with the Church of the Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja). This was built in the 17th century and is approached via 99 steps that grooms are supposed to carry their brides up, with the island and Castle here being popular wedding spots. If no one’s getting married on your visit then do go inside and look around. You can also try ringing the bell three times for good luck, something you’ll hear others do throughout your visit.
You don’t need to pay to visit the island, so well done if you choose to swim there or bring your own canoe, but there is a fee if you want to enter the church and bell tower, currently €6 for adults, 4 for students and seniors, 1 for children, and 12 for families. Other places to explore on the island include the chaplain's house, provost's house, and a small hermitage – more than enough to make the trip across the water worthwhile, whether or not you have a wedding to attend.
The most touristy way to get to the island – not that there’s anything wrong with that – is via a traditional Pletna boat, powered by an oarsman who stands up (currently €15 return for adults, €8 for children), with these leaving from the Health Park, Hotel Park and the rowing centre (for more locations, see here). If you want to hire a kayak, rowboat or stand-up paddleboard, then Google will help, while if you come in winter the lake might be frozen, and you can simply walk or skate across (at your own risk, of course)
That said, you won’t get a good view of the island from the island, for that you’ll want to get up above the water. If you fancy a a short hike, of between 45 minutes to an hour in each direction, then three popular spots for this are the 611 m hill known as Ojstrica, or Osojnica’s two viewing areas, Mala (Small) at 685 m and Veliki (Big) at 756 m.
Source: Google image search
These are where you see a lot of Instagram shots, and you can find out how to take a picture like the ones above here. However, with about 90 minutes to two hours for the round trip you might want to find other options if just here for a short visit.
In which case, don’t worry, the view from Bled Castle is just as good. What’s more, if you’re really pressed for time then the short drive, bus ride or 15-minute walk up the hill will let you kill two or three birds with one stone – see the Castle, get the view, and eat one of those cakes, which we’ll get to, I promise.
The Castle, set atop a 130 m cliff, first appears in written records in 1011, and over the years the various owners have made their own changes to the property, making it the attractive mix of styles you’ll see today. Entrance costs €11 for adults, 7 for students and 5 for children enter (although free if you book a table at the restaurant), and inside you’ll find a museum, wine cellar, forge, printing press, chapel, knights’ hall restaurant, souvenir store and yet more impressive views of the area, which are not limited to those of the island.
Not every place has a “must eat” dish, but Bled surely does, and – as noted above – it’s kremšnita, which you’ll find everywhere. This is a truly delicious slab of custard, cream and pastry, perhaps best enjoyed with a cup of coffee. Another dish to consider, and before the kremšnita if you have enough time, would be fish from the lake.
If you’d like to make your own kremšnita, then you can see our recipe here. It failed, in part, but you can learn from our mistakes and / or simply appreciate the craft that goes into making “the real thing”.
If you stay longer, and there are plenty hotels where you can spend the night, then you can really explore the area. In this regard hikers are in for a treat, with many paths and trails offering stunning views in the surrounding hills, or you can keep close to the water and follow the 6 km trail around the lake.
Turning back to the lake itself,and season permitting, fishing is allowed, with Bled recently listed among the “ten best fishing holidays in Europe”.
While we’re on the subject of “best of” lists, golfers should note that in 2018 Royal Bled was added to the list of “best and most beautiful courses”, which is hardly surprising when you consider the views on offer as you walk from hole to hole.
Finally, if you’be spent a day or two exploring the area then consider taking a soak in one of the many spas in the town, with the water coming from the natural hot springs on the north-east side of the lake. In short, Bled offers much more than a cake with a view, and will reward visitors who choose to stay a day or two longer than most.
If you want to keep up with all the news about the area, including the things they don’t tell the tourists, then you can do that here, while if you want to visit the local tourist centre’s website to find out about the latest offers, then you can find that here.
FishingBooker, “an online community that enables you to list, find and book the best fishing trips worldwide” has released a list of the “10 best fishing holidays in Europe”, with Slovenia’s Lake Bled among the featured destinations.
As the site says in write-up of an area perhaps less known for its angling potential than its castle, church on an island, kremšnita and seasonal crowds:
Bled feels like a different world or maybe even a different century to most European holiday spots. Between Lake Bled’s island fortress, and the green slopes of the Julian Alps, the area seems almost too good to be true. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Bled every year to admire the serene beauty of this town. For anglers, Bled offers alpine, chalk stream, and freestone rivers full of four different trouts, all within half an hour of each other. And it’s not just about the rivers. Lake Bled is home to pike, carp, and even zander. All this, in one of the prettiest places in Europe.
The full list, in alphabetical order, is:
Costa Adeje, Tenerife, Spain
Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Herceg Novi, Montenegro
STA, 9 December 2018 - The lakeside town of Bled, one of Slovenia's top tourism destinations, is set to see another boom year in tourism, having broken last year's record as early as October this year.
Visitors to the Alpine resort have spent over one million nights in one of its accommodation facilities in the first ten months of the year after the one millionth mark was broken for the first time ever at the end of last year.
It was British visitors who spent most nights at Bled (177,000), followed by Germans (92,000) and visitors from the United States (67,000) and Italy (65,000).
Since many Italians tend to spend their Christmas and New Year holidays in Bled, the local tourism board expects they will overtake the Americans as the third largest group of visitors in terms of nights.
Tourism statistics are expected to improve further because Bled has also attracted many of the biathlon fans and athletes competing at the Biathlon World Cup opener on Pokljuka just above Bled this week.
Photo: Screenshot of Google Image Search
STA, 22 November 2018 - The iconic Alpine lake of Bled is to become even cleaner as the local authorities have purchased an electric vessel which will be used to clean the surface of the lake, removing leaves and various waste, such as plastic bottles and bags.
The floating electric robot has been purchased on an initiative of the rowers of the traditional Pletna boats, which are used to take tourists around the lake and to the picturesque Bled Island.
Funded from the fees that the local authorities collect from the various users of the lake infrastructure, the device is the first of its kind in Slovenia and this part of Europe, the Municipality of Bled announced on Thursday.
The vessel will be collecting various waste and debris on the lake surface and will cause no additional pollution, as it does not use fossil fuel.
Jakob Bassanese of the municipal utility Infrastruktura Bled, which will operate the vessel, said that this was yet another solution with the aim to contribute to the sustainable management of the lake, which attracts an increasing number of tourists.
The device produced by the Swiss company Grove Boats is actually a prototype, Bassanese said, adding that the vessel had arrived at Bled about week ago and that the initial tests yielded satisfactory results.
The remote-controlled vessel, whose batteries can last for two hours and which can carry rakes and nets of various densities, will be docked in the bathing area just below Bled Castle.
On Sunday, the bottom of the lake will meanwhile be inspected by divers in a campaign initiated by the organisers of the Bled Water Festival, a leading festival in the region in the field of water innovation.
Another campaign to clean up the bottom of the lake will be organised in the spring by the Slovenian Diving Association in cooperation with the local diving club.
This week’s photo is a stunner, although it’s unlikely anyone will recognise the location, despite it being near one of the most visited – and photographed – spots in the country.
Interviews with BSF secretary-general, Peter Grk, and programme director Meliha Muherina.