24/08/2015

Travel Diary: Slovenia & Italy


After an amazing week in Croatia, it was time to head north to Slovenia for the rest of our trip before finishing up in the beautiful city of Venice! 


Ljubljana 
After leaving Plitvice, we crossed the Croatian border into Slovenia and the first stop on our list was the capital city, Ljubljana (pronounced loo-blee-ah-na). Having not done much research on Slovenia's capital before visiting, I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised at what a beautiful little city Ljubljana is! With charming buildings, cobbled streets and a picturesque castle on a hill, wandering around the city almost felt like stepping into Disney fairytale.
Only spending one night in Ljubljana, Mollie and I were keen to squeeze as much as we could into our short stay. We arrived at sundown and had a brief wander around the city centre before residing at a bar by the river for dinner and cocktails. The following morning we were up bright and early for a walk up to Ljubljana Castle and I'm so glad we did. The panoramic city views were pretty spectacular and it was lovely being the only people up there early in the morning! I really liked Ljubljana and I'd definitely recommend a visit.
Lake Bled
Leaving Ljubljana, next we headed north to Lake Bled. This was one of the places I was most excited about visiting - even after a simple Google Image search! The Lake itself is truly spectacular and although I only spent two nights here, I could have easily stayed for an entire week!
The first afternoon we arrived was spent sunbathing in the blazing heat and eating ice-cream - a total must! We stumbled upon a cute ice-cream hut and I was excited to try some interesting flavours including Strawberry & Beetroot and Green Apple - so good! We also took a trip to Bled Island, the small bit of land within the lake which has quaint little bell tower, as well as beautiful views of the lake's surroundings. Dinner was spent in a lovely lakeside restaurant sipping wine and listening to jazz - so relaxing!
On our second day, we took the bus to another nearby lake, Lake Bohinj. More peaceful and less touristy that Bled, Bohinj's clear blue waters and epic alpine views were a perfect way to relax whilst taking a dip. After a couple of hours, we headed back to Bled with our sights firmly set on paddle boarding and pier jumping, we were certainly in for a fun afternoon! Watersports and renting boats etc. are all relatively cheap in Slovenia and I have to say paddle boarding out in the lake was definitely one of my favourite moments of my trip!
If I'd have had more time at Lake Bled, I would have loved to have hiked to the top of one of the surrounding mountains for a great view of the lake and the island. There is also lots more to do in the area like visiting gorges and waterfalls as well as sports like paragliding, cycling and zip lining. This will definitely not be my last visit to Lake Bled - I simply have to return.


Piran
A brief but lovely stop, we arrived in Piran from Lake Bled in the evening after a full day of travelling. Situated on southwestern coast of Slovenia, Piran is a delightful little town with a busy marina and charming buildings surrounding the main square. After an hour or so of basking up the last of the day's heat, we headed up to the town walls at golden hour. Here, we watched the sunset into the ocean, with the view of the town.
Not everything always goes to plan when travelling and we had to go to plan B when finding out our ferry to Venice the following day was sold out. It can be difficult to know when to be spontaneous and when to plan ahead more to avoid lengthy journeys or waiting for hours in a bus station. Luckily the following day, the journey wasn't too painful and by midday, we had arrived in Venice...


Venice
After two weeks of travelling, the final stop of our trip was the beautiful city of Venice, Italy. It was hot and it was busy (it was always going to be in August!) but we were very excited to check out Venice and all it had to offer. We were staying in the Cannaregio area of Venice which was an easy walk from the train station and a good location for exploring Venice too.
One of the first things I noticed about Venice was the incredible architecture and I was blown away by the intricate detailing in Piazza San Marco and at Santa Maria Della Salute by the Grand Canal. We also took a boat trip to the small islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello, each with a different beauty and charm. My favourite had to be Burano, which was filled with streets and streets of colourfully painted houses with canals and bridges in-between. It was like the Notting Hill of Italy!
It goes without saying that Venice is super expensive and after visiting Croatia and Slovenia (where wine was 80p) its difficult to adjust and fork out money for most of the time, less-than average food. Gondola's are infamous in Venice, but at 80 for a 30 minute trip (100 after 7pm) it was a little out of our budget.

I hope you've enjoy this two-part travel series and hope that it was informative and helpful if you're looking to do a similar trip in the future. I'm currently writing this whilst watching the rain trickle down my window in London, wishing that I was still travelling - major holiday blues!

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