|December 23, 2010
We had a bit of a lengthy journey today and had a quite tight connection on one our trains, too, so we were hoping the weather would be good and all would go smoothly. Our train to Füssen was about 20 minutes late and if our one back to Munich was a similar amount late we’d miss our train to Salzburg. Thankfully, our train left on time and we were on time in Munich. Equally pleasing was the fact we didn’t have a shouting idiot on this train like the one from a few days ago. Also pleasing was the reservation system on the next train from Munich to Salzburg which wasn’t working which meant we could sit where we wanted even though we didn’t have reserved seats. The train was quite busy and even though it was only about 90 minutes I didn’t fancy standing the whole way.
Once at Salzburg we had about an hour wait for our next train so we sat in the waiting room and ate our pre-prepared lunch of salami and cheese sandwiches. These are now our staple diet and we must eat cheese sandwiches with some form of meat at least 4 or 5 times a week! Our next train was heading direct to Lesce Bled, the closest mainline train stop to Lake Bled, where we were spending Christmas. The train ride took just over 3 hours but it went by pretty quickly. The rain had started to fall as we crossed the border from Austria to Slovenia and as we pulled into Lesce Bled it was pouring. From here we jumped on a bus but as we didn’t have much of an idea where we were going we ended up getting off at the wrong stop and having quite a long, wet walk to find our hostel. We didn’t have a map so we had to stop four times to ask directions before eventually finding the right place.
Once we got checked in we headed to the supermarket and I made us a nice pasta bolognese for dinner with leftovers for tomorrow!
December 24, 2010
We didn’t do very much at all today as the weather was crappy and, well, we couldn’t be bothered. We had a nice relaxing day lazing around the hostel, got up to date with our laundry (for free!) and I grabbed a couple more things from the grocery store for our Christmas Day breakfast.
See, not all days are fun and games but the down time is good time!
December 25, 2010
This morning we woke up with no presents to unwrap and a bit more dreary weather but that wasn’t going to deter us. I’m not normally a “Christmassy” person but I was determined to try and make it a better day for Elizabeth.
After brief phone calls with my parents and my brother we got down to making breakfast. We had a nice little fry up with eggs (scrambled for Elizabeth and horrifically fried for me) and bacon and fried tomatoes. We would’ve had more to it but the grocery store wasn’t exactly overflowing with choice! We accompanied breakfast though with some Bucks Fizz thanks to an exceptionally che1ap bottle of champagne! By the time we were done with breakfast I think Elizabeth was a little tipsy so we lazed out on the common room sofas and spent some time searching YouTube for Christmas songs and funny videos, including clips from the best Christmas film ever, “A Christmas Story”. After a phone call with my sister and very quick Merry Christmas from Phoebe and Joshua, we got ourselves ready to go out and we headed up the hill to the castle. There weren’t really any good marked paths up the hill so we ended up following one which was a bit muddy and slippery and ended in a “Do Not Enter” construction site. Given we were so close and we could see footprints in the snow going through the construction, we hopped over the fence and were easily at the castle.
The weather was reasonably clear and we were pleased to have some amazing views over the lake and of the church in the centre of the lake, too. We had a nice wander around and chatted to a few other people along the way, including some American students studying in Italy and an English couple escaping for Christmas. The museum at the castle was OK but we basically breezed around it in no time at all before heading for the wine cellar. He we were met by a “monk” who told us all about the wines and when we asked him to recommend one he of course pointed to a couple of pricey items! We went for the local Castle Bled wine (a Pinot Noir, I think) and were happy with another bottle of something to fill ourselves with! Finally, we stopped at the castle printing works where we printed our own little souvenir from the castle on their Gutenberg press. The guy working in there was really funny and cheery and we felt almost obliged to make our own after he was so friendly!
We were back at the hostel in time to call Elizabeth’s parents and wish them happy Christmas before getting ready and heading out again, this time to the side of the lake for the annual bell-sinking! There is a legend in Slovenia that a lady tried to take a bell over to the church on the island and it sank with all the men in the boat also perishing trying to save the bell. She eventually died after her husband was killed and she became a nun. Overall, it was quite a grim story but the legend nowadays is that any person who rings the bell or some such story will be given good luck. So on Christmas Day evening they have a ceremony where they sink a bell and a load of crazy men go for a swim in almost freezing water. It was a bit rubbish and most of the locals weren’t very interested and it almost seemed like it was put on just for the bus-loads of tourists – there were at least 6 or 7 coaches full of people who had been bussed here to see this delightful scene!
We came back and got ready for dinner and we were soon heading out again. We were heading back to the castle for dinner and were looking forward to it despite the trek to get there. The route up the hill wasn’t quite as much fun in the dark but we did remember to bring torches which certainly helped. Once we were at the top and our hearts had stopped racing we headed into the restaurant to find we had been given the only window table in the entire place and it overlooked the stunning lake. It also looked like everyone else was being offered some kind of set menu but we had the regular menu so had a decent choice of things. I started off with a lovely lamb carpaccio and Elizabeth had a beef and vegetable broth. For our main courses Elizabeth had a huge plateful of lamb cutlets and I had wild boar. The boar was absolutely amazing and it was accompanied by a cheese roulade which was delicious! By this time, and with a fair amount of wine inside us, we were quite full but I didn’t want to leave without dessert so we shared an apple pastry before settling up and heading back down to ground level, this time taking the marginally longer but safer route down the road rather than through the trees. Back at the hostel it was time for the annual Christmas “Bond” film but within an hour Elizabeth was asleep so I decided to turn in, too, and force her to watch it tomorrow instead!
December 26, 2010
The weather was nice today so after a quick bread and honey breakfast we got out and decided to walk around the lovely lake. A lot of people had the same idea but the path and roads were plenty wide enough for everyone to plod around at their own speeds. We walked past the castle at lake level, walked further round past a few boating clubs and soon had views of the tiny island in the centre of the lake and the church perched upon it. It was a really pleasant walk and once we were on the far side of the lake we had some even more amazing views of the castle with the mountains in the background. The castle is actually quite a way up and is perched in the edge of a rocky outcrop so it looks all the more impressive from a distance. The walk around the lake took us a couple of hours with plenty of stops for pictures and chatting along the way.
Once back in the main part of town we stopped and got a bit of the local cream cake to try with our dinner as well as a couple of postcards. By that time our bread and honey had worn off and we were ready for lunch so we found a nice local bar and Elizabeth tried the spicy meatballs and I had the pork/beef burger, which was basically just a huge chunk of minced and grilled meat!
The afternoon was spent lazing around and just enjoying doing so. We didn’t have anything else planned for today or tomorrow and so it felt nice to know we could just do nothing! In the evening we finished watching Bond with our cheese and salami sandwiches and our Castle Bled wine (which was pretty good for a Pinot and not too heavy) before watching another film, “Lars and The Real Girl”. It is great to have our own room and just be able to laze in bed and watch films. I know that isn’t exactly the purpose or reason for travelling but sometimes it is good to do what you would at home, which over Christmas is eat, sleep and watch films!
December 27, 2010
I think today will be in bullet point format to make it easier:
• Got up
• Had breakfast
• Went back to bed
• Lazed around in the common room
• Had lunch
• Lazed around in the common room
• Had dinner
• Watched Slumdog
• Went to bed
That is all. Unless you want to know that we had a cheese and salami sandwich for lunch and a bean feast thing from a tin with pasta for dinner. You didn’t want to know? Then forget the previous.