Mar 24, 2015

Lake Bled, Slovenia

The first port of call on our Adriatic cruise was Koper, Slovenia. We had a handful options for this port...a) we could spend the day exploring Koper on our own, b) we could book a tour and head to Ljubljana, Slovenia's capital city, or c) we could join a tour to Lake Bled (with a post-lake stop in Ljubljana). Naturally, we chose the last option. Why not kill two birds with one stone!

Early that morning we hopped a bus and made the 1.5 hour journey from the port in Koper to Lake Bled in the northern part of Slovenia. When we arrived, we dropped a handful of our touring group at the cliff-side castle and then we continued on to the lake bed where we could wander around the water and enjoy lunch overlooking the lake. To be honest, Slovenia was never a destination on my travel bucket list, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved our morning at Lake Bled! The scenery was gorgeous...big, beautiful blue lake surrounded by forests and snow-topped mountains towering in the background. And that little island just big enough to hold a church? Like something straight out of a postcard. The pletna boats floating back and forth to the island were so tempting to ride, but it was so chilly that morning. No water sports for us. When we first arrived, clouds were overhead, but as the morning rolled into afternoon, the sun came out and shown new light over the whole lake. I swear the blues in these photos don't do the lake justice. It was an insanely beautiful landscape to witness. 

During our brief lunch break, we found a nice restaurant right on the lake where the original Bled Cream Cake (Blejska Kremna Rezina) was being served in giant portions right and left. I'm pretty sure every table in that restaurant had a slice of cream cake on it. D and I split a piece (because it was only Day 1 & we had 13 more days of cruise food to enjoy). Not too shabby! It reminded me of a deconstructed creme puff or vanilla custard-filled pastry...not too sweet, but rich enough to tame a sweet tooth. I'm always up for trying new foods, especially where desserts are concerned! It was nice to be able to eat a local treat that Slovenes come from all over the country to enjoy.

We only spent 3-ish hours exploring the lake before we had to hop back on the bus to head to our next Slovenian destination...Ljubljana! More to come!

Mar 17, 2015

A Venetian Sail Away

Hands down, one of the brightest shining highlights of our entire Adriatic cruise was the sail away through Venice, Italy. I'd been to Venice once before and loved my time there…but there was something so incredible about being able to float around the island and have a bird's eye view of it ALL. The-whole-darn-thing. It was not something either of us expected (as most sail-aways are quite lackluster), but seeing Venice from above goes down as one of my most favorite vista views in all my time living abroad. Cooler than the views of Florence from the top of the Duomo. Crazier than the mountain views we saw while skiing around the Matterhorn. Even more awe-inspiring than those views we captured from the highest level of the Eiffel Tower. It's like we were giants, watching tiny people wandering the piazza's and gondolas floating down the canals. Life bustled on as our massive cruise ship passed through Canale di Fusina, Canale della Giudecca, Basino di San Marco, and finally Canale di San Marco. When we sailed past San Marcos Square ,the cruise ship loud speakers erupted with Andrea Bocelli's singing "Con te partiro" and I won't lie, I got a little teary eyed. I felt all the Italian feels in that moment.

What makes this all the more special (to us, at least) is the fact that cruise ships floating through Venice is sure to be banned in years to come. It's no surprise that Venice is slowly sinking into the sea, and with all the boating traffic, wake, and vibrations created by ferries and cruise ships alike, the city is in a constant state of erosion. Before our sailing, we'd heard rumors that our ship might not be able to take its usual route into Venice. I totally understand the environmental detriment all of these cruise ships and large boats contribute, but I still couldn't help but be thankful the ship bans weren't imposed just yet. If they had, we would have never experienced this incredible sail away. I do, however, hope that some middle ground is found and that the preservation of this beautiful floating city can continue so locals and travelers can enjoy Venice for many years to come!

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