Sunday, May 29, 2016

The walk from Hell to reach Heaven... Vintgar Gorge


The entrance to the Vintgar Gorge...

Thursday morning, Bill and I were looking for things to do and decided we wanted to visit Vintgar Gorge.  Although I am pretty sure I had read about or seen pictures of this marvelous natural attraction near Bled, I can't say that I had made any solid plans to get there.  I happened to read up about it online the morning of our visit, loved the photos I saw, and suddenly decided I wanted to go.  I read in one TripAdvisor review that it was possible to walk there.  I mentioned that to Bill and he was all for walking, even though the review mentioned that parts of the walk weren't easy because there were no sidewalks.  The comment about the lack of sidewalks should have given me a clue.

Anyway, like two idiots, we set off on our hike, thinking it would be a fairly short walk.  We neglected to carry water or sunscreen, though I did carry my purse and had put on some sunscreen before we started walking.  At first, the walk wasn't too bad, though Bled is a pretty heavily trafficked town.  We dodged cyclists, trucks, and cars, but we were feeling fresh and energetic and I was buoyed by the idea of seeing some gorgeous scenery.

At one point, we came to a terribly tight area with really awful vehicular traffic and no sidewalks to speak of.  No matter if you were on your feet or on wheels, it was fairly dangerous negotiating the area.  I was beginning to think the walk was a bad idea, but then we made a right turn into a more residential area.  The horizon beckoned with looming snow capped mountains and expansive fields full of wildflowers.  We passed a stallion pacing about in a small pen and I explained to Bill how horses are gelded (I spent most of my childhood showing horses).  Then we started talking about more contentious subjects as we headed more and more into the country.  A few thoughts about when the walk was going to end started to creep into my consciousness as we kept marching.

After about an hour, I was seriously beginning to worry about our decision to walk to the gorge, but then I saw a sign that said it was only 1.5km away.  Feeling a second wind, I bore down into the walk uphill, even as I began to realize that I was sweaty and tired and not in fabulous shape.  It's true we had no water and I didn't see any stores where we could buy some fluids, but the spirit was somewhat willing even if the flesh was weak.

The signs were telling us to go down a country road that I hoped would take us to the gorge.  A group of cyclists passed us, then stopped.  We passed them and headed up yet another hill.  After about a half an hour, I saw another sign advertising the gorge... 1.5 km.  Some very salty four letter words escaped my lips.  How could we still be 1.5km away from the gorge after all that walking, mostly uphill?

As we were fuming over the sign that let us know that we'd apparently made no progress, the cyclists passed us again.  It turned out they were Irish.  One of the women said in a hilarious lilt, "You picked the right way to go!" as she panted and struggled to get the bike up the hill we were climbing.

I was about to get really upset when Bill noticed a store.  We went in there practically radiating heat as we searched for cold water.  All we found was cold beer... and the water was stored on a cabinet at room temperature.  Bill said, "There's no cold water.  Only beer."  He looked at me quizzically.  At that point, I was seriously getting pissed off, which depending on your viewpoint, is either hilarious or scary.

"Just get the fucking water." I snarled, already way over the long walk in the heat.

Bill laughed, bought the water, and we went outside for a short rest.  I started telling him that the walk was a really stupid idea, especially since we neglected to bring any water.  He then asked me if I wanted to head back to Bled.

I stared at him in disbelief.  Then I thought about it for a moment, then said "No, let's see if we can get there.  But I am NOT walking back."

Bill wondered aloud how we'd get back to Bled and I said, "You will call a taxi.  You brought your phone, right?"

Bill laughed again and said he'd brought it and, unlike me, hadn't used up all his roaming minutes.  We rounded a corner and I was starting to feel a little bit down when I suddenly heard the sound of rushing water!  Then, Bill noticed a sign for a town that we probably would have walked right through had we not accidentally taken the detour intended for cars.  I could see the river in the distance and, voila, there we were... at Vintgar Gorge!

We walked down the twisty hill to the gorge and the first thing Bill saw was a sign for a taxi service.  Clearly, we weren't the first to decide we weren't up to walking back to Bled after walking to the gorge.  Next to the sign for the taxi service, there was a very large gasthaus serving fresh trout all day.

We walked through the free parking lot and paid four euros each admission to the gorge.  Public toilets were a welcome sight, as well as picnic tables and refreshments.  We decided to walk the gorge before enjoying beer and ice cream.  I knew if I sat down, my muscles would stiffen up and it would take some doing to stand up again.

At the end of the 1.6 km walk, there is another ticket booth that offers refreshments, toilets, and a lovely view of a waterfall.  We sat there for an hour, ate ice cream, drank beer, and enjoyed the serene sights and sounds of rushing mountain water.

At the end of the Vintgar Gorge walk, there is also a trail that leads to another town where we could have caught a bus, but Bill said it looked too rugged for the likes of us.  In my exhausted state, I was inclined to agree.  We walked back the way we came, had some delicious fresh trout at the gasthaus, and then got the waiter to call us a cab back to Bled.  By day's end, we'd walked well over ten miles.  Not bad for an almost 44 year old fatass housewife.

Here are some of the photos I took on our gorgeous walk to and along Vintgar Gorge.



This was a pretty stretch of road, despite all the trucks...





This is where I heard the water...






















I got even more photos than I'm sharing in this post.  Vintgar Gorge really is very beautiful.  It was somewhat busy the day we walked it, which meant we shared the walk with a lot of people.  I would imagine on weekends and holidays, it's a madhouse at the gorge.  I was so tempted to jump into the cold water.  I wished I'd worn a bathing suit, though I didn't see anyone really wading on the walk itself.  Further down the river at the bottom of a waterfall, I saw what looked like local people setting up a camp and wearing Speedos.  Along the walk itself, it's probably too dangerous because of the rapids, waterfalls, and deep pools.


Bill determines how we're getting back to Bled as I sip a much appreciated beer.  The people sitting in front of us had a couple of dogs with them, one of which was a well behaved beagle.  She made me miss Zane and Arran. 






The mist from the waterfalls was so nice!  This walk can be wet and slippery, so wear good shoes with traction.


Lunch... I had brown trout and Bill had brook trout with garlic sauce.  Both were caught in the gorge and each cost about 13 euros.  They were very large fish.  For those who don't like fish, there are a number of other choices available, everything from turkey to schnitzel.    

We also ran into another group of Irish cyclists who made us laugh as they described their adventures getting to the gorge.  I remembered that this trip was originally intended to be a trip to Ireland and smiled.  It must be a sign that our next big trip will be to Bill's ancestral homeland.



If you get to Vintgar Gorge and want to have lunch, the restaurant is well worth a stop.  They have a wide variety of dishes and a very cool biergarten area.  The guy who waited on us was very friendly and hardworking and we definitely appreciated that he called us a cab.  WiFi is available there, but you have to pay for it.  Despite my Internet addiction, I didn't bother.

I'm not sorry we walked to the gorge, though I probably wouldn't choose to do it again.  If you're reasonably fit and want to walk to Vintgar Gorge from Lake Bled, it's certainly doable.  Just be sure to bring water and make sure you know your route.  Also, be prepared to dodge a lot of traffic.  I would not recommend walking to the gorge if you have young kids.  If we ever make it to this little slice of Slovenian Heaven again, it'll be with wheels.  Our taxi ride back to Bled was 10 euros and worth every penny.



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