Monday 30th June, 2014
I have an 11.30am bus to Ljubljana, Slovenia and then straight on to Bled. The Aussie gals had told me they had caught the tram from the train station easy peasy. I try hard to catch one but it isn’t really obvious where I should be standing, and the trams are all packed, Melbourners – think St Kilda Road trams on a weekday at 8am, aaaand it started to rain. So a taxi suits me just fine. I was quick to understand that I was catastrophically ripped off on my journey to the hostel the first time around. I didn’t take any notice of the recommended cab companies that were listed on the hostel web page and just jumped in the first one I saw. This time round it was half price. Lesson learnt.
The bus ride was the quickest so far and I am in Ljubljana before I know it. I wasn’t really sure what to expect of the city, but in a way it looks how I imagined, slightly draconian, medieval style statues of dragons and gargoyles, sharp spindles on churches. I thought it was very intriguing. I was kind of hoping when I got off the bus that I would have an hour or so to kill so I could go and take photos but no, I have two minutes before the bus to Bled departs at 2pm.
Travelling more locally means a downgrade in bus and road quality so for most of this leg I have a very bad case of cheek-bounce (maybe the eastern European diet has finally caught up with me?). On a side note, the Welsh girl from Sarajevo asked if I was a Kiwi before I had volunteered the information saying that the general stereotype was blonde hair, blue eyes, small noses and generous cheeks, which I fit perfectly. So I’m comfortable owning the cheek-bounce for the time being.
There is snow lingering on the nearby mountains which frame fields of green all around. I see two fawns emerge from one corn crop and quickly disappear into the next.
I am sitting at a bus station tapping away on my iPad when the driver comes marching in my direction shouting “Bled, Bled!”
“Oh, is this Bled already?”
“Yes. Bled. Out”.
When I get off the bus and my ticket is checked before my pack is given to me, the driver tells me I have actually gotten on the wrong bus. Right destination, but wrong company. When I boarded I knew the bus wasn’t at the platform that that the ticket said it would be, but it was only one off and there wasn’t a bus at the correct one, and I only had two minutes. What’s a girl to do? I then got a small lecture from a local about how I should always get the tickets from the drivers and not the ticket booth because then you don’t pay for the reservation blah blah blah. This combined with the fact that it takes me AGES to locate my seemingly easy-to-find hostel in this tiny town, full of HILLS means that by the time I ask the fourth person, who happens to work at the hostel I am in a GRUMP. Poor guy. I read somewhere it takes 12 subsequent meetings to blow off a first impression. Pity. Looks like I’m forever going to be the girl that arrived a grumpy hot mess. And just to clarify that’s the sweaty, puffing, red-faced, greasy hair kinda hot, not the sexy, zen, boho-gypsy traveller girl kinda hot.
I thaw quickly as Mika takes me through Castle Hostel explaining what’s what. I thought I would have seen the lake by now and make it my second priority, after groceries. I contemplate going for a run around the lake but instead buy a pack of lollies and eat them in front of the lake, which is nearly the same thing. I then pass out in a lolly coma on a park bench for an hour while the sun goes down.
The iconic things in Bled are the church on an island in the middle of of the lake, and the small castle on the hill which overlooks it. Very picturesque. The actual town is very small but being such a popular holiday spot there are 17 hostels.
Tonight I make my very first home cooked meal in a month. Unfortunately the supermarket had a very disappointing array of fruit and vegetables so I’ve got pasta with bolognaise sauce mixed with capsicum and zucchini. It’s not too terrible.
It seems every person in the hostel is from the UK. I get chatting to one girl who tells me that her group of 10-15 are travelling together after completing a uni exchange in Vienna. Most others are in groups too which does make it a little harder for a solo traveller to make friends when everyone already knows each other. A few glasses of I’m-not-sure-what-kind-of-red-wine-because-I-can’t-read-a-word-on-the-label and I am asleep in my otherwise unoccupied four bed dorm.