Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj: Steve finally gets his muffin

Sunday 2nd August

Miles: 54

We were up by 7.30, having slept very well once we tore ourselves away from the wifi, and were being served an amazing breakfast by our lovely hosts at 8.

Polona and Andre advised us on our route, gave us maps and a bag of fruit for the road. We couldn’t have asked for kinder hosts.

We also got to see Polona’s mother’s pottery just before we left. It was very beautiful and delicate work. I said ‘dobra’ a lot.

We said our thank yous and goodbyes, and by 9.30 we were back on the road.

Today was a special day… we were meeting our old buddy Mr Stephen Ingram at Ljubljana airport. And we were running late again!

Here he is (in the end we were about 30 minutes late. Sorry Steve).

We gave Steve a special gift. To explain the gift I must take you back to 2008, when we were young and fancy free. Eric and Steve were on their first cycle tour together. One evening, as they were relaxing and cooking a particularly potent merghez sausage, Steve (not known for his coordination skills. Sorry Steve) spilled his camping stove pot and tipped boiling hot sausage grease all over his leg. The pain was so intense that he passed out. Luckily, his loyal friend Eric was by his side. Eric (not known for his empathy skills) decided that the best thing he could do was eat Steve’s muffin (not some sort of euphemism, an actual muffin).

When Steve woke some time later, in a lot of pain, he said: ‘Oh well, at least I have my muffin.’ At which point Eric had to admit that he had eaten it. This has become a long-standing bone of contention between the two of them, and I have heard Steve yell ‘YOU ATE MY MUFFIN!’ many times.

So we bought Steve a muffin. Steve saved it for later, and that evening told me that Eric had tried to eat it. Somehow I have to admire the tenacious effort that Eric puts into being irritating.

Anyway, muffin story over.

So after a quick lunch and some fiddling about with Steve’s bike we were on our way.

We had a hilly afternoon cycling north to Lake Bled – more or less Slovenia’s number one tourist destination.

We arrived at an extremely soggy, busy campsite and found a sort of un-muddy patch to set up our tents. It was an overcast evening, but the nice thing about this was that at around 7.30 a beautiful rainbow appeared over the lake. Ah.

We had a celebratory “Steve’s here” dinner at the campsite restaurant.

Then Eric, who has spent the last month saying ‘Do you think Steve will want to arm-wrestle me?’ and ‘I hope Steve’s up for arm-wrestling’ and ‘I hope Steve doesn’t beat me at arm-wrestling’ and ‘I wonder how strong I’ll be when I arm-wrestle Steve’, finally got to arm-wrestle Steve.

The score was 6-4 to Steve.

Monday 3rd August

Rest day

We were up early to swim to the island in the middle of Lake Bled.

It was a very picture-perfect holiday sort of thing to do… and it was also quite hard work. I haven’t been swimming in years, and 500 metres is actually quite a long way. But it was good fun. We arrived at the island, dragged ourselves ashore and went to have a look around (gingerly as we had no shoes).

There was a cafe, a pretty church and what I’m sure was quite a fancy hotel.

There is a legend that if a husband carries his wife up the sixty-something steps which lead to the church, they will be married forever.

‘Come on then,’ said Eric, at the foot of the steps.

‘Are you sure you don’t want a rest first?’ I said, as we had only just gotten out of the water.

‘No, let’s go,’ he said. And like his favourite sack of potatoes I was flung over one shoulder and carried up the steps. Never before have I been fireman’s lifted in such a romantic fashion.

After sitting around for a bit we swam back, dodging quite a lot of boats along the way (that makes you swim faster!). We walked around the lake…

… had a quick lunch, and then got the bus to Lake Bohinj.

My friend Tina and our hosts Polona and Andre in Ljubljana had all recommended Lake Bohinj as the more natural, less touristy lake to visit, so I was keen to make the trip. We were not disappointed. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking, sunbathing, icecream-eating and swimming.

imageA statue of four explorers, who conquered Slovenia’s tallest mountain (which can be seen in the distance).

In the evening we met up with another one of my old colleagues Lucija, and her partner John. They live just a few kilometres from Lake Bled. We had a fun evening chatting with them about travelling, work and Slovenia… a great way to end the day.


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