Our last port stop is Koper in Slovenia. Koper is a small mostly commercial port with a small downtown area. I volunteered to organize our tour here. There were a number of choices including caves and visiting the original home of the Lippizon horses but We decided to tour the Castle at Lake Bled, which with its lake with church filled island below has to be the most picturesque place in the country and visit Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital.
We were picked up by Allie our driver. He is a masters candidate in business and speaks wonderful English. During our hour and a half drive, Allie described the geography, economics and history of Slovenia. It was a beautiful drive form the coast over and through the hills to the flatland that contains Ljubljana. The Ljubljana plain is surrounded by the alps…or at least the foothills of them…it was great to see the snow on them on our drive.
We arrived at the castle after starting what I later realized was the start of our third death march….unlike the others, this one was divided into three portions. The first was the climb up the steep smooth stoned road to the lower courtyard of the castle where we got to see the lake and church located below for the first time. Then came the next part, climbing the steps up to the upper courtyard. While there we toured the little chapel, the wine cellar and a print shop.
We had planned on taking a rowboat to the island in the middle of the lake so we could visit the church and ring the bell which is the tradition in Lake Bled. However, Allie highly recommended that instead we spend our limited time at a nearby river gorge. We put it to a vote and thankfully I lost, since the day had turned out to be beautiful after a cloudy misty morning and the walk through the George and along the river was incredible. However, if I had of known the walk was going to become the second leg of our death march, I might have fought harder to relax in the rowboat on Lake Bled while someone else did all the work.
After the gorge, we drove back to Ljubljana for what was to become the third stretch of the death march. Allie walked us around this beautiful city with a river through it. Ljubljana suffered an earthquake in the 18th century so it is more modern than Split or Dubrovnik. There are a number of public squares on both sides of the river joined by beautiful bridges. After completing Allie’s death march we enjoyed a relaxing respite in a cafe. I tried out Slovenia’s version of Krempita, called a creme slice. Like Krempita it is a layer of crispy pastry on the top and bottom with custard in between but in Slovenia they has a layer of whipped cream on top of the custard and under the top pastry….mighty tasty. We also had the national beer which Allie recommended because his grandfather had been the brewmaster.
As we returned to the ship, Allie gave us a quick drive by tour of Koper. Small town and from what we saw (and later heard from other cruisers), I was glad we had traveled outside of the port.
For our last night aboard, we had a relaxed dinner on the aft deck of the ship, chicken wings, burgers, and lots of laughs….the it was back to the room to finish packing (wasn’t that hard to do, we had packed one suitcase full of dirty clothes earlier in the week…and with the two rollaboards, there just wasn’t that much! And then to bed to catch a few zzzzs before our 4am alarm so we could watch the sail in to Venice.
On our way to the castle:
Heading up to the castle, the two courtyards and views down to the lake:
Chapel and printing press:
The dancing “goats” that greeted us when we returned to the ship: