One of my favourite things about cruising is waking up each morning in a new location; it’s always a treat to open the blinds and see what’s there!
54 nautical miles east and slightly north of Venice, across the Adriatic Sea, is Koper, Slovenia, our first port of 7. Slovenia is one of the six former Yugoslav countries – along with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. With less than 50km of coastline, Slovenia lies mostly inland and that is where we headed.
Our guide, Nick, from Koper Tours was fantastic and gave us a lot of great information about the country as we headed north towards the mountains.
On the right side of the road were the Kamnik-Savinja Alps which run across northern Slovenia and southern Austria.
The white mountains below are the Julian Alps (they pronounce it Yulian) that stretch from northern Italy to the north western corner of Slovenia; they were to our left (mostly).
It was a beautiful drive to our first stop, Vintgar Gorge.
Vintgar Gorge is located in the north west of Slovenia. Located in Trignav National Park it’s a 1.6km gorge carved out by the Radnova River.
It’s one of Slovenia’s most popular attractions (unfortunately for us) so we went there first thing to try and beat the crowds. That meant that it was still cold and the light wasn’t the best for photography, but it was still beautiful.
The walkway winds itself along and across the gorge; the crystal clear water is amazing.
The rising sun was at just the right height and angle to create a beautiful reflection on the water
Even though it was early, it was still busy but manageable.
There were a lot of rocks piled up in the riverbed…
And even some on this downed tree…
After the gorge we headed into beautiful Lake Bled. First we drove around the lake; unfortunately they don’t allow vehicles to stop at the side of the road! This photo of Bled Castle was taken as we drove by…
Once in town, we went to get the famous Bled Cream Cake. This is the sign at the hotel restaurant where it was “invented” in 1953.
The cake is pretty simple but oh so good – with puff pastry on the bottom, then custard and whipped cream, another puff pastry layer and topped with icing sugar. It’s made in a big pan and cut to a perfect square – 7 cm x 7 cm x 7 cm. And, in case you’re wondering, it goes very nicely with a glass of Pinot Grigio!
With the cake out of the way, it was time to wander the lakefront and take a few pictures.
In the forefront is a small church that is actually sitting on an island. The only way to get there is by boat and there are 99 steps from the lake up to the church. We were told that in order to be married in the church, the groom must carry his bride up all 99 steps! Yikes!
The Parish Church of St. Martina reflects in the still waters of Lake Bled.
Medieval Bled Castle is said to be the oldest castle in Slovenia; it was built around 1011.
Such a beautiful spot…
These little wooden boats are Pletna boats; found only in Bled. A Pletna Oarsman stands in the back and rows with both oars to transport tourists around the lake.
Not really sure what the lanes were for…
We arrived back in Koper with plenty of time before the ship sailed, so we decided to explore town a little.
Koper is the largest coastal city in Slovenia with a population of about 25,000. It’s about 5km from the Italy border, so it’s no surprise that both Italian and Slovenian are official languages.
Tito Square sits in the centre of Koper’s old town. To the right is the Praetorian Palace, in the centre is the Bell Tower (we did not climb the 204 steps to the top) and the Koper Cathedral to the left of the Bell Tower. In the square they had a market set up, selling baked goods, olives and other local treats.
This building, built in the late 1600’s, was once St. Mark’s Salt Warehouse. It was used to store the salt from the nearby salt mines. Now known as the Taverna, it has served as everything from an inn, to a fish market and a tavern over the years. It’s currently used as exhibition space.
Koper is a beautiful little seaside town. It would have been nice to sit here and have a glass of wine, but it was time to get back to the ship and sail to our next destination – Zadar, Croatia.