The Whirlwind Mystery Tour 🇸🇮
It's Wednesday evening and the Three Amigos (Sam, Maya and I) are sitting down to a tasty Mexican pasta dinner, lovingly crafted by Aussie Sam. Sam is plotting an epic Slovenia road trip.. just as an unwanted text message threatens to spoil the whole trip...
I'm faced with a dilemma. Easyjet have kindly decided to cancel my Friday evening flight and I need to be back in the UK for a wedding on the Saturday. Shit! The only option available is catching a 1am coach from Lubijiana to Venice, to be there for a 9am Friday morning flight 😳.
After demolishing dinner, Sam kindly offers to drive me to Ljubljana, following the road trip. I decide 'what the hell' and decide to join them for the road trip the following morning. I take myself to bed for an early night, knowing how much I hate early starts!
We're up with enough time to neck a quick coffee (Sam and Maya are actually staying in the upstairs hostel but have snuck me in, like the fugitive I am - I may as well have just moved in tbh). We're joined on our forthcoming adventure of a liftetime, with our honorary 'fourth amigo' (Guilem from France).
Our bumpy car journey whisks us up and down windy roads, through various cute little Alpine style villages (Sam is clearly getting used to driving on the 'wrong' side of the road, whilst the other passengers and I offer our various utterings of encouragement, whilst being thrown around like popcorn kernels).
The first stop is the most impressive waterfall I have ever seen! It's a somewhat treacherous climb through creeping paths and undergrowth for about 10 minutes, as we trade various awkward 'hellos' here and there en route with other random waterfall enthusiasts.
The second stop is a idyllic, azure blue lake, which emits cute little 'fart like jets' through its crystal clear water (we laugh to ourselves as a rather large. random phallic shaped 'dildo fish' swims over to say hello, before chasing a random duck across the lake).
The third stop is another large crystal clear lake, framed by some an impressive mountain backdrop reflected on its surface. The lake is scattered with various tourists, splashing around happily in the water or basking in the sun on wooden decks . Maya has volunteered herself as chief lunch maker and knocks up us a bumper selection of delicious sandwiches, which are subsequently stuffed full of crisps (mmm). A rather curious duck waddles over to where Sam is lying and gives him a playful nibble on the back of his leg (this has made my day).
The fourth stop on the whistlestop tour is high up in the mountains, accessed by a 20 minute or so car ride up a long and windy road through the mountain pass. The mountain views are simply breathtaking, one of the winding paths up the mountain takes us past an abandoned concrete bunker ( I manage to amuse everyone by falling flat on my arse twice on the way down).
Just as reddish looking sun begins to set, our fifth stop, is a spectacular gorge, cut between two valleys, split by the clearest water I have ever seen. It could easily have been lifted straight out of Japan and gently placed in the Slovenian landscape.
Although we only have 15 mins or so at the park before we have to leave to catch our train back to Bled, we each have a few reflective moments to drink in the breathtaking landscape. It's a crazy kamikaze dash back up a million steps back to the carpark and although it's only a fleeting visit, it's well worth the 8 EUR entry fee!
After another 15 miniute drive, we're just in time to board the car train (yes you heard me correctly) - it's essentially a train dragging a trailer full of cars through the mountains and valleys back to Bled!
As we pull away, the sun begins to disappear behind the mountains and Sam has a well earned rest from the wheel. Maya's hands disappear into her bag and the next thing we know a large Bled cake, cut into four is passed around the car. We improvise some basic eating apparatus (cardboard, penknifes and the plastic lid from the cake).
I'm not sure whether it's the tasty, creamy, sugary goodness of the Bled Cake (Kremsnita) or the fact we are completely dumbstruck by our journey through the mountains, but a comfortable silence has finally descended on the car.
Even though the light is dwindling, the glimpses of several tiny villages, glittered with twinkly lights, perched in the mountains is like travelling through a high budget film set. The Aventure Express pulls us through a series of long, spooky mountain tunnels, dimly lit my an eerie red glow and I'm transported back to being a little boy on the fairground's ghost train.
Arriving back at the hostel, we're back to the original Three Amigos and we have just enough for a final pasta supper up on the hostel roof terrace. After a shower and a delicious dinner (although I do say so myself) Sam kindly drives me and Maya 45 mins to Llubijiana Bus Station,
As the car pulls away and I say a sad goodbye to my two amigos, I feel a lump in my throat - I dunno, maybe it's just the impending all night journey to Venice and onto the UK, but I can't help but think how lucky I have been on this trip to make such amazing friendships and to have shared the experience with them... I only regret not packing a spare Bled Cake for the journey home!
This is from our first stop at the waterfall 📸
Sam, Guilem & I at the waterfall 📸
This is the first lake we visited with the fart jets 📸
Maya and I at Lunchtime Lake 📸
The Vampire Duck (on the right) that nibbled Sam 📸
The concrete bunker we passed on the mountain pass 📸 (shortly before I fell on my arse twice)
I'm on top of the world 📸
When you got to go.. 📸
The Four Amigos 📸
A couple from our fleeting trip to the gorge 📸
Maya carving up the Bled Cake (Kremsnita) 📸
Welcome to the Car Train 📸
All aboard the Ghost Train 📸