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|Frank Bernheisel: The View From Here|
Just Outside Washington
FRANK BERNHEISEL & KATHY CAVANAUGH
VISITING WHAT WAS ONCE YUGOSLAVIA
The next morning, we met Sasha and the others at 9 a.m. to go on a tour. Our first stop -- Bled Castle, which was first mentioned in writing in the year 1011. Like many castles, you can only take transportation so close and then you have to walk. In this case it was not a long walk, but it was steep and on cobblestones -- this would not be a lot of fun in the rain as the stones would be very slippery.
The first a picture of Frank with the castle in the background taken from our hotel room balcony and the second is Kathy on the castle plaza, showing Lake Bled and the Alps. The view in all directions was spectacular.
And here is the terrace of the castle. It is not a large castle -- perhaps because it was owned by the Roman Catholic Church, but has a small chapel, a printing shop, a wine store, a metalsmith shop, and, of course, an outdoor coffee café.
After the castle we were off to beautiful Lake Bohinj, which like all of the rivers, streams and lakes we have seen have very clear green/turquoise of water. (We were told many times how Slovenia had the purist and tastiest water in the world.). We explored the village of Ribcev Laz, which looked very Swiss and alpine.
This included a visit to a museum of mountain life and alpine dairy production; where cattle and sheep are moved up the mountains in the summer and back down for the winter. The museum was in what had been a very small cheese factory.
The first picture shows the mill race and the second the water power saw mill. The vertical saw blade protrudes through the log, right in front of the mill worker.
From the village we went to Triglav National Park, the only national park in Slovenia. It was established in 1981 and comprises 340 square miles and includes Mount Triglav, the highest peak of Julian Alps.
WWI was fought in this area, particularly the twelve Battles of the Isonzo. Hundreds of thousands of Slovenes were conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army; over 30,000 of them died, and many more were held prisoner in Italy well into Mussolini's regime. While in the park, we visited a small WWI cemetery (picture below), which is maintained by the government.
In the afternoon seven of the group visited the mountain town of Kranjska Gora, a hotspot for winter sports. It annually hosts an event in the Alpine skiing World Cup series. It is also lovely and green during the summer months. Afterward we had a walking tour of Soteska Vintgar, a gorge with a narrow wooden walkway that at times was hung on the wall of the gorge. With the fall colors, clear water, and minimal noise (except the talking of people from many parts of the world), it was a lovely walk. Most of the lakes and streams also have large trout swimming and Soteska Vintgar had more than its share.
Following our walk, we enjoyed dinner at a traditional restaurant with a presentation on gingerbread making. This was another meal of more food than we needed or wanted, despite it being tasty, we then called it a day.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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