Europe has my heart; it always will.
That’s why I felt so betrayed when I got sick in the Zurich airport. After a very brief overnight layover where our hostel accommodation cost three times that of our boutique hotel in Bangkok, I woke with an unpleasant sensation in my stomach.
I will spare you the details except to say that it was not food poisoning and I was glad we’d gotten to the airport early. I spent the short flight to Ljubljana writhing in the back row, attempting to find a comfortable position and cursing the innocent flight attendant for not having ginger ale on hand.
I was pissed because out of all our flights, I’d actually been looking forward to this one. Flying over the Alps is magical, and it’s not every day I get to do it.
I was also pissed because my friend was getting married in two days and I refused to be sick for the wedding, which was IN A CASTLE. I was going to be there, it was just a matter of whether or not I was going to be enjoying her wedding from the castle facilities.
The Ljubljana airport is tiny and extremely simple to navigate, so I slumped over our bags while Jared picked up the rental car. The drive to Bled took about 30 minutes and I was counting down the moment until I could make best friends with a bed. We stayed at Pension Kaps, and the host walked us through all of the nearby attractions that we could access with our car – there are a LOT of them – as I tried not to pass out and hoped he wouldn’t notice that the top button of my jeans was undone (please don’t tell me that I’m the only one who does this in order to achieve maximum comfort).
I immediately collapsed on the bed (which, in true European style, was two singles pushed together) and slept for three hours. I woke when Jared returned with pretzels and Sprite, then passed out again to the dulcet tones of the Kardashians on E! as he went to explore Bled.
The next day, a miracle.
Time had, indeed, healed all wounds. Either that, or the pretzels and some quality time with reality TV did the trick. Either way, I was well enough to explore so we hopped in the car and drove to Vintgar Gorge. In my confused state of the previous afternoon, I had gotten the idea that the gorge was 40 minutes away.
It was more like 5.
“Quickest 40 minutes ever,” Jared teased.
The gorge was awesome (in fact, you could even call it…GORGEous. As if I would pass up that opportunity.)
The gorge is a mile long, with a narrow wooden path trailing along its edges. I stopped every 5 meters to take a picture and exclaim over the color of the water. Just before its conclusion, at Šum waterfall, there is a high stone bridge. As we speculated about what it was used for, a train came cruising along the top to answer our question.
At the waterfall there is a small shop and ticket booth (access to the gorge is 4 euro) with information about other linked hiking trails. Due to time and my flagging energy, we decided to check out the waterfall and head back through the gorge. There are a few signs leading to a lookout point, the best spot for photographing the waterfall.
That is how we learned the Slovenian word for waterfall is slap, which was the source of much juvenile laughter between us for the duration of the trip. Also a funny joke was this sign, which I think is supposed to say ‘Pod slap.’
But all Beavis and Butthead-style laughter ceased when we saw the waterfall and I was again forced to shout exuberantly about the color of the water.
On the way back we passed an Australian tour group comprised of people in their 50s and 60s. We know this because Jared was wearing a Wallabies jersey and the Rugby World Cup had just kicked off, so every male in the group was giving him some form of positive acknowledgement.
Of course, one of these tourists turned out to be his dad’s old boss, who he hadn’t seen in at least a decade.
Life, man. It’s so random.
That afternoon we took another road trip to Lake Bohinj, less famous than Bled but the winner in terms of size; at 12km around, it’s the largest lake in Slovenia and twice the size of Bled. The area is not built up, and you’ll see more campgrounds than hotels. It even has its own Slap, accessible via a 15-minute uphill hike. It tested my stamina, but it was slaptastic (hmm…not as good as GORGEous).
There is more to do at Lake Bohinj than drive in and see the slap. There’s kayaking, and a cable car, and a pretty little church that I didn’t photograph, but we were content with a few quite minutes on the lake’s shore, feeling far away from routine and obligations.
And with one day in Slovenia, Europe won me back.