Craving Quiet in Lake Bled
Rolling green hills, little hamlets with red roofed cottages in the distance, grazing cattle scattered through the valley, a rushing river and the sun shining overhead. It is a perfect day, and this is the perfect vacation. Lake Bled, Slovenia is our destination, and according to the pictures on the internet, the apartment we have booked will be perfect as well. I can feel it in my bones. Billed as scenic, romantic, and charming, I am sure it won’t disappoint as the pictures I examined carefully before I made the online reservation looked fabulous.
Arriving in Bled, we lose our way, and bump headlong into closed roads due to a local festival. I see the first grey clouds looming on the horizon. We finally arrive at the promised apartment and park in front of a newish looking building with balconies overlooking the scenic lake, as promised. We ring the bell and are ushered in with a smile by the manager and offered a drink of the local liqueur made from pine cones (you read correctly) to refresh ourselves after our long journey. How nice.
If there is one thing that my partner and I crave, it is quiet.
We look around the apartment. It is lovely. Compact, well furnished, pleasant, good bed, fluffy towels, and the view, oh the view. We are a mere ten meters from the edge of the Lake Bled. We step out onto the balcony to savour the setting sun, sending its last rays over the lake so smooth that all is perfectly reflected on its surface.
A cacophony of honking horns hits us in the face. An engine changing gears, automobile exhaust, rumbling trucks and the squeal of brakes are all part of the scene right here on the main road of Bled that circles the lake and just happens to be two meters from our balcony. We beat a quick retreat, closing the door and locking it shut, hoping to block out the din.
We look at each other. If there is one thing that my partner and I crave, it is quiet. We live rather frenetic lives most of the year and when we vacation, silence is golden. The noise from the road is so loud that even with the balcony door closed, we can hear the racing motorcycles down below. We decide to take a walk around the lake to consider our options. We bring along a bottle of wine and a piece of cheese for dinner, hoping they will cheer us up.
After crossing the street and walking into the underbrush for several minutes, the road sounds recede, and the greenery surrounding the lake and the woodsy smell take over. The medieval castle in the middle of the lake looks as if it is out of a storybook. All is peaceful, yet my mind is churning. What are we to do? We have booked the apartment for a week. We can’t possibly stay there.
Two glasses of wine later, we decide we will stay the night, as it is getting late. In the morning, we will talk to the owner, settle the bill, pay a penalty if necessary, and then find something more to our liking. We are feeling more hopeful on the way back. Undoubtedly, the bottle of wine has helped.
“Quiet?” she asks. “You want quiet?”
“That’s what you want? This is too noisy for you?”
We shake our heads in agreement.
“Well, let’s go. Hop in my car. I have another apartment three kilometres from here and I think you will like it much better.”
We happily squeeze into her tiny car, and careen over narrow, winding country roads for five minutes or so, ending up in front of a brand new building with six apartments. Our friend, for by now we have made a lovely acquaintance, takes us up to the second floor, shows us an apartment much larger than the first, tastefully furnished with a balcony, this time overlooking a tranquil valley and a trickling brook. The sounds of the gurgling water are music to our ears.
“Yes, yes, yes. This is it!” we nod happily.
Eight days later, as we pack our bags for our trip home, we shake our heads in amazement at how lucky we have been.
Top Photo By Mark Gregory