Tom and I opted for the extra excursion to Lake Bled despite the dismal rainy weather we have been having. It was a chance to see the countryside; however, we didn't get the views of the Julian Alps that we had hoped for. But we did get to go to the only island in Slovenia by way of Pletna boats; add an "r" and you have "Pletnar," the name of the captain, similar to a gondolier. The special oaring/steering technique is handed down, generation to generation. Our captain's father rows as do his two teenaged sons. Also, the boat is theirs and they must handle all the upkeep.
On the islamd, we climbed 99 stairs to the top where the church is. Grooms often carry their brides up these steps to cheering visitors; and then they ring the wishing bell in the church three times. True believers will have their wish granted, so it is said. We did ring the bell but no one had a free ride up the steps.
Then we had a special Bavarian creme cake, which is basically a layer of Bavarian cream followed by a layer of whipped creme between two thin layers of strudel dough. So it's definitely more cream than cake.
Finally, we picked up the other travelers, those who opted out of Lake Bled, back at the hotel and continued our journey in to Zagreb, Croatia. Our guide was very worried about the border due to new crossing rules and mandatory passport checks which could take up to five hours. Luckily, it took us about half an hour and we all got through but we did have to depart the bus and line up one by one to show our passports.
One final note about Slovenia, they offer bikes to rent while costs 3 euros per year. You can ride one and then put into the locking racks at a different location when done.
On the way into Zagreb,,we saw the Ljubljana marshes, rich in peat. People were taking balloon rides over them.
Croatia is where north meets south. Hard work and order in the north versus laid back Mediterranean attitude in the south.
Necktie invented in Croatia due to a war 17 century. Women would tie a scarf around their boyfriend's necks before they left to fight. When French saw it, they said the style was "a la Croat," which became cravat.
Wooden toys, lace, procession of cross and Diocletian palace: more UNESCO than any other county.
Kuna is the currency. It translates to "Martin," like the weasel-like mammal.
Zagreb was stop on the orient express from Paris to Istanbul.
Yellow is Maria Theresa or Schoenberg yellow. It is on the important buildings.
It is known for its parks and botanical gardens, half in French half English.
Museum of broken relationships. Beer as cold as your ex's heart
Hvala--thank you plaques. Pray at the western gates. A picture of Virgin Mary didn't get burned. Most sacred site. People singing.
One thing we really noticed was the run-down look of the buildings and all of the graffiti. Even though the locals all said it was done by teenagers and not gangs like in America, it still made us uneasy walking around.