Monday, 6 January 2014

Welcome to Bled, Slovenia

With immense natural beauty, Bled, together with its surroundings, ranks among the most beautiful alpine resorts, renowned for its mild, healing climate and thermal lake water. The beauty of the mountains reflected on the lake, the sun, the serenity and the fresh air arouse pleasant feelings in visitors throughout the year, guaranteeing an ideal base or a relaxing break or an active holiday. Bled attracts businessmen, artists, athletes, explorers, sport enthusiasts, the old and the young, from all over the world, enchanting them to return again and again.

Bled in the winter evening(Author - B. Kladnik); www.slovenia.info
Altitude 501 m, Castle Hill 604 m, Mt. Straža 646 m. Number of inhabitants 5476. Tourist capacity 4000 beds. Lake: altitude 475 m, length 2120 m, width 1380 m, area 144 ha, maximum depth 30.6 m, maximum annual water temperature is 26°C.

Bled's is a mild, healthy sub-Alpine climate with the longest swimming season of any Alpine resort. The ridges of the Julian Alps and the Karavanke protect it from the chilly northern winds. During the summer months there is no fog. The average monthly temperature in July is 18,7°C and in January -1,2°C.  

TOP FIVE OF BLED

1. Lake bled with an island

6 km long trail around the lake is just long enough for simple recreation (walks or bike rides). This trail also leads to sightseeing rises – Castle Hill and nearby hills with splendid views. Take a rest on one of the benches and enjoy the view on the lake with an island and the Karavanke mountains in the distance, and observe the ducks and swans playing on the surface of the lake. Rowing is a very popular sports activity in this area as Bled can pride itself with a long tradition of the rowing sport and with hosting international rowing competitions. During the summer visitors can cool down in the lake or enjoy on the Castle beach which each year attracts a great number of tourists. In extremely low winter temperatures the surface of the lake freezes. Would you dare to ice skate on its surface?

Bled, the Island(Author-Klemen Kunaver); www.slovenia.info
Once, there was a tectonic basin located at the place of the present lake, which was later on carved by the Bohinj glacier. The glacier found itself in front of an obstacle – a giant rock which it carved and chafed against for so long that only the island we know today remained. The ice melted and the basin was filled with water, thus creating a 2.12 km long and up to 1.30 km wide Lake Bled. Its maximum depth reaches up to 30.6 m, making it ideal for diving exploration.

Must-take picture: Take a picture of gracious swans, traditional Pletna boats, surrounding hills and their reflection on the surface of the lake, the picturesque island with the church and the romantic sunset.

2. The bled castle 

The history of the castle reaches back to 1004 when the German Emperor Henry II gave his estate at Bled to Bishop Albuin of Brixen. At that time, only a Romanesque tower protected by walls stood in the place of the present day castle. The first castle was built in approximately 1011 but the Bishops of Brixen never resided there. This is precisely why the castle has no luxurious halls as the greater emphasis was placed on the defence system.

Bled, the Castle, with Triglav in the background(Author-Klemen Kunaver); www.slovenia.info
In the late Middle Ages more towers were built and the fortifications system was improved. Can you imagine entering through the outer walls with the Gothic arch and walking over the drawbridge above the moat? Today, the moat is filled with earth, but the sight is still able to stir up your imagination.

The distinctive feature of the castle is its double structure – the fortified centre part was intended for the residence of feudal lords, whilst the outer part with walls and buildings was intended for the residence of servants. In 1511 the castle was heavily damaged by the earthquake. Later on, the castle was restored and given its present appearance. The castle buildings are decorated with coats-of-arms painted in the fresco technique or carved in stone.

The Bled castle
The Bled Castle today
The Bled Castle is now arranged as an exhibition area. Display rooms next to the chapel present the ancient history of Bled from the first excavations, and the castle in individual stages of its historical development with furniture, characteristic of those times. Although these pieces are not originally from the Bled Castle, they are important as an illustration of the style of living in the historical periods presented.

During the warm months, the castle courtyard hosts numerous cultural events, from which the Medieval Days, when knights present the medieval life to visitors, are the most appreciated.

3. The pletna boat

There are various ways to take a trip across the lake or to the island. One of them includes a trip with the traditional boat made by locals which is only known at Bled – the Pletna boat. The origins of the Pletna boat go back to 1590, whilst it size allows safe transportation of 20 persons. You should be able to recognize it from afar as it is equipped with a colourful awning which protect passengers from the sun and other elements.

Bled(Author-Matej Vranič); www.slovenia.si
The Pletna boat is operated by the Pletna oarsman. This profession is very respected as it cannot be performed just by anyone. The title of the Pletna oarsman was handed down from generation to generation, which is why the profession of “Pletnarstvo” remained in individual families throughout the centuries. The Pletna oarsmen await you in the Spa Park, under the Park Hotel Bled, in Mlino and in the Rowing centre Bled.

What is the Pletna boat?
The Pletna boat is a wooden flat-bottom boat with a pointed bow and the stern widened with a step to enable passengers to enter. The boat is propelled with the special »stehrudder« technique where the oarsman is standing and rowing with two oars.

The origin of the name
It is said that the Pletna boat gained its name after its roof which was once wickered. The other explanation claims that the name came from the German word »plateboot«, meaning flat-bottom boat.

Must-try: Hop in the Pletna boat and let the oarsman take you on a tour of the lake. You will experience a most special feeling and you most certainly won’t get disappointed. Actually, there is saying which says that you haven’t really visited Bled if you haven’t taken a trip with the Pletna boat. You can also rent your own boat, but you will have to row it yourself.

4. The Vintgar gorge  

The 1.6 km long Vintgar gorge carves its way through the vertical rocks of the Hom and Bort hills and is graced by the Radovna with its waterfalls, pools and rapids. The educational trail leads you over wooden bridges and Žumr’s galleries, and ends with a bridge overlooking the mighty 13 m high Šum waterfall.

The Vintgar gorge
The Vintgar gorge also includes two man-made sights. The single-arch stone bridge of the Bohinj railway, constructed in 1906, which crosses the gorge 33.5 m above the trail, and the dam from which the water is routed to the small Vintgar hydroelectric power plant under the Šum waterfall.

Must-impress:  The Bled's Vintgar leaves an impression on every visitor. Its steep depths, vertical walls, rapid river beneath, vegetation and the largest waterfall in Slovenia are all intended to impress.

5. Cream cake »Kremšnita« 

Cream cakes, known to Bled for decades, are in fact the symbol of Bled. Although you can buy them elsewhere, those from Bled are simply the best. Ištvan Lukačevič, the former manager of the Hotel Park patisserie, tested recipes for many years before he finally succeeded. His cream cakes, which are prepared at this patisserie and sold in the café opposite the hotel, are famous.

Bled cream cake (Author - Aleš Fevžer ); www.slovenia.si
What is the cream cake?
What is the secret? In fact, there is no secret - only experience matters, and the cooks from Bled have plenty of experience. Over the last 60 years they have sold as many as 12 million cream cakes. Let us treat you: a golden crispy crust made from butter dough (mixed with butter, not margarine), a delicious vanilla cream of exactly the right consistency (with exactly the right amount of flour - if there is too much the cakes are no good, if too little, they collapse after cutting), topped with whipped cream and a crispy layer of butter dough and finally, last but not least, a good dusting of icing sugar. You see? Your mouth is watering already. 

Must-taste:  After you have finished your lunch of traditional Bled cuisine, treat yourself with the Bled Cream cake.

ACCOMMODATION: YOUTH HOSTEL BLEDEC

Welcome to our hostel and pension BLEDEC! Our building is located at the old part of town, named Grad (Castle), below the Castle of Bled and just five minutes from the lake. We offer comfortable accommodation in 12 rooms from 3 to 8 beds. We accept the groups!

Youth Hostel Bledec
Youth Hostel & Guesthouse is the first hostel with 15 years traditon on Bled. As true lovers of tourism, we offer our guests a friendly and efficient service. Many guests like us and come back every year. By us they find the best accommodation for affordable prices. Apart from accommodation and food, we offer all sorts of excursions and visits to nearby island and gorge and Bled surroundings. In the summer you can hike and bike or just take a swim in the lake, an ice skating hall is waiting for you in winter or you can ski on the hill in the middle of town. In the city center you can find shops and a lot of fun in the pubs. There is no age limit in our house.

Youth Hostel Bledec
Youth Hostel Bledec
Grajska 17
Tel.: +386 (0)4 574 52 50
Fax: +386 (0)4 574 52 51

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