A Slovenian (& Italian & Austrian) Road Trip
One of the most underrated countries that we've visited thus far has been Slovenia. I'd been seeing blog & instagram posts about it for a while and the only thing I knew about it was it had "that Church on that island". So, I knew pretty much nothing. So as you do when you know nothing about a country, we booked a trip and started planning/reading up on it!
We found out pretty quickly that the best way to see this country was by car since much of what we wanted to see (that Church on that island) was away from the main cities. We also saw how close the Italian & Austrian borders were and I was even more excited to fit in some additional countries on our extended weekend trip. We had known someone else that had done a similar road trip, and pretty much everywhere she went was picture perfect. So, for my photographer husband (and me!), this was shaping up to be quite exciting.
But we still didn't truly know what we were getting into until we arrived in Slovenia. The pictures, stories & posts just don't do it justice. This country and its charm is something you have to experience for yourself in order to understand! But I can try and paint a picture for you (and show you a few as well!)
When you first land into Ljubljana, you are between the Julian Alps. We went in late November, so the Alps were lightly dusted in snow. Already you feel like you are in a bit of a fairytale.
Then as we drove toward Lake Bled (with the Church on the island), the Alps were even more majestic. Lake Bled is nestled at the base of the Julian Alps and in a valley with the town encircling the lake, with the Church at the center of it all. We stayed right along the lake and woke up to that view each morning. And since it was late November, it was absolutely peaceful & calm. I think during the summer, Bled is probably inundated with tour buses. So to have it somewhat to ourselves was even more of a treat. Although it was quite crisp & chilly, the sun still shone & made for quite a day!
So what's the first thing we did? Well, we rented a row boat to row ourselves out to the island to see this Church of course! It was so much fun (and rowing is no joke!) Thankfully Dan did most of the rowing as my attempt made us go in circles for a while.
We then continued to explore the town, walk around the lake, stop in for some local eats/fantastic wine, & had a nice relaxing evening in this adorable town.
The next morning we hiked to the top of the mountain overlooking the lake to try and capture the sunrise. But the sun that had graced us the day before decided that was enough, and then the winter-y weather rolled in. So we made our way back down and decided that we'd drive to Italy & Austria that day.
In order to do that, we drove up into the Alps that separate Slovenia from Italy and discovered even more beauty, emerald green lakes & snow.
After making it over to Italy, we stopped into the little border town of Tarvisio for a late lunch. Pro Tip: if ever in Tarvisio, go to Al Lepre! The staff were very friendly and the food was delicious! The food was very reasonably priced and the atmosphere was extremely cosy. I had the Gnocchi and it was absolutely DELICIOUS. My mouth is still watering thinking about it!!
Then we continued into Austria and stumbled across a Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) in Villach. It was the perfect timing for a market as the days were growing shorter and colder and a nice cup of Gluhwein was exactly what I needed!
We spent the evening walking around looking at the stalls, watching people ice skate & eating some of the delicious Brezeln before heading back to Lake Bled for our last night.
The next day, before leaving the northern region of Slovenia, we went to see the largest lake in the country - Lake Bohinj. It was even more magical as it had snowed the night before and we arrived to a serene winter wonderland. It was like we were inside a snow globe!
After wandering around the lake for a while, we spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening in Ljubljana! We walked around the old town, ate some delicious (and humongous) pizza, and enjoyed soaking in some of the local culture.
As we headed back to the airport, we were already planning our return trip. It was such a beautiful and surprisingly accessible country and I am already missing the food, wine & views.