Interlaken is publicized so much more; skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, canyon jumping and night sledding in the Alps. All of this sounds and is amazing, and fortunately, I got to experience it myself. But little do many people know, Lake Bled, Slovenia has all of that to offer, and even more.
After a Thursday night of posting up at the bar in Lion's Fountain, I got home and made a game-time decision around 1:30am to join Euroadventure's weekend trip departing that morning. Although my roommates and good friends were still out and declined the offer, I kept thinking, 'We are lucky enough as it is to be studying abroad, why wouldn't we take advantage of everything that's available to us?' So, I sent Cathy a text saying I was coming on the trip, and began packing for Slovenia.
Somewhat hesitant because I did not know a single person going, let alone the slightest clue where this country was even located, I packed my warmest clothes, wrote my roommates a note, and left to walk to the train station at 6 a.m.
Six hours later, I stepped off the bus and was surrounded by about five feet of snow, accompanied by an unbelievable view of mountains, a castle, and a gorgeous lake. Not a fan of cold weather by any means, but the scenery of this place overcompensated for any complaints I would have had.
Our small group of 21 took a walk around the lake, getting to know each other and seeing the awesome views of the only natural island in Slovenia; Bled Island, as well as a castle that sits on top of the mountains bordering the lake. Absolutely beautiful.
Having a dance party in a igloo is something many people cannot check off their list. But now we can. Taking a bus 30 minutes into the Julian Alps of northwestern Slovenia, night sledding, then hanging out and jamming to music in a giant igloo, was our Friday night in Lake Bled. After warming up back at the hotel and making new friends at the local pub down the street, we were ready for a day filled with sky diving, paragliding, snowboarding, skiing, and treating ourselves to massages. We woke up Saturday morning and boarded a bus to Kranjska Gora, a ski resort town about an hour away from the hotel.
Being in Interlaken, many people were hesitant to do anything adventurous. Whether it was the extremely high expenses or lack of skill, there seemed to be more limitations. Lake Bled offers the same activities for almost half the prices of Interlaken. Every one in our group participated in one thing or another and it's safe to say, no one left with any regrets. After canyon jumping in Interlaken, I thought that was the most thrilling activity I'd do, but after reassurance from the locals in Lake Bled, I decided to go snowboarding for the first time.
I was pumped. Renting all the equipment; boots, board, pants, etc., for as cheap as 21 euro, we spent a full 8 hour day at the ski resort. Everyone took advantage of the amazing, sunny weather, skiing and snowboarding until the last round of lifts went up. Perfectly content practicing on the smaller hills and hanging by the pubs, I can finally say I snowboarded in the alps of a different country.
Hitting up Pub Bled later that night, some of us not coming home until 6am, we all met downstairs Sunday morning for the best free breakfast I've had traveling in Europe so far.
While some of our group decided to hike up to the castle, the rest of us went to check out, Wellness Ziva. A well-known spa and salon resort with a wide range of massages, baths, saunas, body and facial treatments. Why did I not do this earlier in the weekend?!
We sat in the outdoor jacuzzi while it was snowing, over-looking Lake Bled and the castle in the mountains. After diving in the snow in our bathing suits, and jumping back into the hot tub, we put an end to our great weekend. If this was not a version of paradise, I'm not sure what is.
Overall, this spontaneous trip to Lake Bled was a total eye-opener. Of course I hope to be back later in life traveling through Europe, but going to a place that seemed to be extremely unheard of is something I felt I needed to do. I traveled alone for the first time, creating an even higher level of independence for myself as well as forming numerous relationships I know will carry on throughout the semester. I was actually sad that my close friends back in Florence could not experience this with me and almost felt bad for people who do not know about this Slovenia trip. It was incredible.
So, moral of the story; A few drinks at Lion's Fountain may be just what you need to make the decision of a lifetime...
Juuuust kidding. But in all seriousness, take the chance to explore something completely new. Do something on your own to broaden your relationships and independence. This is the perfect example of straying away from the more 'popular' trips and discovering one of the many hidden treasures Europe has to offer. I could not be happier with myself for going on this trip and have nothing but amazing things to say about Lake Bled, Slovenia.
We are lucky enough as it is to be studying abroad, why wouldn't we take advantage of everything that's available to us?