Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

I think it’s becoming awfully clear, that we really had just the greatest time in Slovenia, and I’m not even finished yet!

Isn’t it strange?

Top 30 expat bloggers 2017!

But before we go any further, I’ve just been featured as one of the top 30 most inspiring expat bloggers in 2017!

Isn’t that cool?

I’ve never been featured by other bloggers before, so it’s a real honour in my book.

Go have a look, and check out the other expat bloggers too.

Thanks so much!

Back to Slovenia!

A shepherd girl on the Velika Planina plateau in Kamnik – Slovenia
©Chiara Marchi

If you had asked me about Slovenia a few years ago, I couldn’t even have shown you where it was in the map, and now I can’t stop writing about it!

Really, I’m becoming quite the (baby) expert!

From the moment we got off the bus and fell exhausted into our hotel in Ljubljana, to the time that we fell bone-tired, into the arms of a loving husband and father one week later.

Slovenia has been nothing but an utter delight!

And the Slovenian locals have been fantastically welcoming, friendly, and enormously helpful.

Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

If you’re just joining, and why is that?! This is what I have written so far:

WHY SLOVENIA?

Me in the Philippines, but could this be a James Bond moment!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

Because I’m weird and I like going to interesting exotic places!

Seriously though, the reason why I wanted to go to Slovenia is because I’d heard such a lot of wonderful things from practically everyone! And remember, just two years ago, I hadn’t heard of any of the Baltic or Balkan States. In fact, I couldn’t even pronounce them!

At Ljubljana Castle – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

But the other reason that I wanted to visit was because of Ljubljana. I was hearing mixed messages and that some “experts” were saying that Ljubljana wasn’t worth more than a few hours!

When I hear things like this, it makes my blood boil!

The ignorance of people constantly astounds, and annoys me.

However, I am a strong supporter of Europe, and I have a weakness for tiny countries in the middle of beyond! Besides, I had such a wonderful time in Croatia, why wouldn’t I want to go to it’s “sister country” – Slovenia – too!

Book your hotel here!

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

One of the amazing things about travelling to a country that is extremely small, is that you can do day-trips to other regions of the country, fairly easily!

Even with 7 days, we didn’t have time to do everything, but if you’re determined, YOU certainly can!

This week, I’m going to tell you about the lovely time we had at Lake Bled!

LAKE BLED

Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

Lake Bled, otherwise known as Blejsko jezero, Bleder See, or Veldeser See, is a lake in the Julian Alps of North-Western Slovenia!

The lake is of mixed glacial and tectonic origin and is 2,120 m (6,960 ft) long, 1,380 m (4,530 ft) wide, with a maximum depth of 29.5 m (97 ft), a small island in the middle of it, and a medieval castle hanging over a cliff!

The fact is, you can’t go to Slovenia without at least spending a few hours at Lake Bled.

We decided to dedicate a complete day to it! After all, it isn’t every day that you get to go to the Julian Alp mountains, and visit the fabulous beauty of a lake that has been attracting and dazzling people for more than one thousand (1,000) years!

A millennia!

Wow!

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HOW TO GET TO LAKE BLED

We took a public bus from Ljubljana to Lake Bled – Slovenia, & a semi-private van on the way back!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

As you know, I’m a huge fan of taking trains, but just like Croatia, the train station for Lake Bled is a little iffy to get to. In this case, the train from Ljubljana only reaches to the Lesce train station, which is about 4.5 km from Lake Bled, and you still have to take the bus!

We decided to take the bus.

Don’t get confused. The bus station in Ljubljana doesn’t really look like a bus station, and is sort of in the middle of the road! However, there are loads of buses with signs towards Lake Bled, and you can pay for your ticket on the bus. A one way ticket is about €6.00 per person.

Cash only of course!

It took about 90 minutes and the buses are usually crammed to the brim, so take something to read, or simply look out of the window!

Right there in front of us, was Lake Bled – Slovenia!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

Once we got to the bus station, we sort of walked around the tourist office, found a little road going down a slight hill, and right there in front of us, was Lake Bled!

The first thing we opted for at Lake Bled – Slovenia, was ice-cream, and then we had another one!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

It was June, and boy it was hot, so the first thing we opted for was an ice-cream, and then we had another one on the way back!

On the return journey, we were approached by a little agency that offered to take us back to Ljubljana more frequently than the public bus, faster, and in a semi-private vehicle with far fewer people, at a cost of €8.00 per person, rather than €6.00!

I admit, I was a little suspicious at first as I thought it was some sort of scam, but when I insisted on a receipt, was given it with no hassle at all, and saw the very nice van, I was sold!

And true to their word, we were back in Ljubljana in less than 45 minutes!

Let’s get to it!

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LAKE BLED – 10 REASONS TO VISIT!

Lake Bled – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

Absolutely ignore all those people who say that Lake Bled isn’t a thing, too many tourists, not worth the talk, is over rated, etc. It’s absolutely not true. It’s worth it and what’s more, if you’re in Slovenia, and you don’t visit, you’re a fool!

There.

I said it!

And here’s why!

I absolutely adore anything to do with water!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!
  1. Lake Bled itself: I absolutely adore anything to do with water. I live in water cities, I spend time visiting places just because they have a river, and I’m weirdly drawn to river-states having lived in them all my life, in one place or the other, to lakes, rivers, mountains, valleys and seas! I spend a lot of time going to the Baltic Sea in Poland, and would you believe it, even Germany has a seaside, and it’s really rather nice!

So was it any wonder that Lake Bled was on the agenda, and besides, walking around the lake was just so tranquil. A slow pace takes about three (3) to four (hours), whilst a brisk walk would probably take about an hour and a half.

Less, if you ran!

Bled Castle is one of the most iconic places in Slovenia!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

2.  Bled Castle: The castle, other wise known as Blejski grad or Burg Veldes, is a 12th century medieval building that was built on a very steep cliff overlooking Lake Bled, and is the oldest castle in Slovenia!

Bled Castle is one of the most iconic places in Slovenia and is home to a museum collection, the Knights Hall, the Gothic Castle Chapel, a castle printing workshop, a wine cellar, a castle smithy, a herbal gallery, and the Castle restaurant! And if you’re lucky, you get to experience an archery tournament, and just like Ljubljana Castle, costumed characters wandering around the castle courtyard too!

Within Lake Bled – Slovenia, is a sort of mini-island in the middle of it – Bled Island!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!
The only way to get to Bled Island – Slovenia, is by boat, or swimming!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

3.  Bled Island: Within Lake Bled is a sort of mini-island in the middle of it!

On the island is a Baroque stairway all the way back from 1655, and with 99 stone steps leading up to the pilgrimage Church of the Assumption! There is also a lovely bell-tower with a wishing bell that can be rung, the chaplain’s house, provost’s house, small hermitage and some rather mysterious legends…!

The only way to get there is by boat, or swimming!

Sail away on traditional wooden pletna boats on Lake Bled, Slovenia!
©Marco Coppo – Slovenian Tourist Board

4.  Sail Away: All around Lake Bled and Bled Island are traditional wooden boats called pletna boats which can either be rented privately, or which you can travel in with other people. The origins of the Pletna boat goes back to 1590, and you can recognize it from its’ colourful awning and oars that remind me of Thailand!

You can also rent rowing boats, canoes, and other sport equipment!

Taking photographs of Lake Bled – Slovenia. There’s no need to be shy!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

5.  Take photographs: There’s no need to feel shy taking photographs. Everybody was taking photographs because the scenery was so beautiful. One of the reasons why we took so long walking, was because I kept taking pictures!

Lake Bled cream cake in Slovenia!
© 2017 Rear View Mirror

6.  Eat Slovenian food: We had a lot of Slovenian food, but the most iconic thing to have whilst at Lake Bled is actually the Bled Cream Cake! Oh yeah! More about this next week!

Go hiking at the Vintgar Gorge – Slovenia!
©Jacob Riglin – Slovenian Tourist Board

7.  Go hiking: If you’re feeling a little more energetic and want to do even more, you can either go to the nearby Vintgar Gorge where you can find the largest waterfall in Slovenia, or go hiking at the Triglav National Park which isn’t that far away either, and is the only National Park in Slovenia!

Everywhere you go in Slovenia are huge beautiful ducks and swans!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

8.  Admire the swans: Everywhere you go in Slovenia are huge beautiful ducks and swans.

Why there are so many, I haven’t a clue, does anyone know?

One of the most common swans found around Lake Bled are the mute swans! Swans are large, heavy, aristocratic-looking birds which breed successfully in Slovenia. By all means admire them, but don’t get too close, and definitely don’t feed them. Sadly, humans don’t know when to stop and end up feeding them meat, cake, and all sort of poisonous crap.

Best to take lovely photographs, coo at their beauty, then leave them alone!

Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

9.  Hang out with the locals: There’s always something happening on Lake Bled, and while we were there, there was an international rowing regatta competition on the other side of the lake!

So when we got there, we bought ourselves a drink, sat down, and started clapping and cheering with everybody else!

It was great fun!

Share your declaration of love on Lake Bled – Slovenia!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!
Show the love!
Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

10.  Be romantic: If you’re travelling with your loved ones then where better to share your declaration of love than to go on a romantic night-time carriage ride around Lake Bled, leave a heart lock, or by putting your head inside a huge heart-shaped symbol of love, which you can find while walking along the lake shore!

 

So what are you waiting for?

That’s it for now.

See you next week.

Book your hotel here!

LAKE BLED – 10 REASONS TO VISIT!

Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

This article isn’t sponsored, and absolutely all opinions, and the magnificent walk around Lake Bled that we had, are my very own!

I’ll be telling you about my next adventures in a couple of weeks!

What about you?

Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Lake Bled – 10 reasons to visit!

Have you ever heard of Lake Bled? Do you like swans? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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How to visit Slovenia: Introducing Kamnik – A town stuffed with mountains and cheese!

A shepherd girl on the Velika Planina plateau in Kamnik – Slovenia
©Chiara Marchi

Sloooovenia!

What a pretty little country it is!

We visited Slovenia in June and it was utterly new, making the countries that I’ve visited (not that I’m counting you understand!) to be 37 countries in Europe, 12 countries in Asia, 6 countries in Africa, 2 countries in North America, 1 country in South America, 1 country in the Middle East, and 5 dependent islands! 3 countries (so far), have been new in 2017.

That makes a grand total of 64 countries and 5 continents!

I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too!
#ExploreMore2017

From the moment we got off the bus and fell exhausted into our hotel in Ljubljana, to the time that we fell bone-tired, into the arms of a loving husband and father one week later.

Slovenia has been nothing but an utter pleasure!

And the locals have been fantastically welcoming, friendly, and enormously helpful.

And the locals in Slovenia have been fantastically welcoming, friendly, and enormously helpful!

If you’re just joining, and why is that?! This is what I have written so far:

WHY SLOVENIA?

Dragons are everywhere in Slovenia!
©D.wedam – Ljubljana Tourism

Because I’m weird and I like going to interesting exotic places!

Seriously though, the reason why I wanted to go to Slovenia is because I’d heard such a lot of wonderful things from practically everyone! And remember, just two years ago, I hadn’t heard of any of the Baltic or Balkan States. In fact, I couldn’t even pronounce them!

At Ljubljana Castle – A 5 minute introduction to Slovenia!

But the other reason that I wanted to visit was because of Ljubljana. I was hearing mixed messages and that some “experts” were saying that Ljubljana wasn’t worth more than a few hours!

When I hear things like this, it makes my blood boil!

The ignorance of people constantly astounds, and annoys me.

However, I am a strong supporter of Europe, and I have a weakness for tiny countries in the middle of beyond! Besides, I had such a wonderful time in Croatia, why wouldn’t I want to go to it’s “sister country” – Slovenia – too!

Book your hotel here!

Get a train ticket and travel through Europe!

One of the amazing things about travelling to a country that is extremely small, is that you can do day-trips to other regions of the country, fairly easily!

  • You can be a craftsperson for the day, and learn how to be a herdsman or a shepherd in the Velika Planina
  • You can go hike up the Alps, mountains and waterfalls in Kamnik
  • You can take a bus or train out to Lake Bled. More about that in a few weeks!
  • You can go to the beach or even go wine-tasting!
  • You can get off the beaten path and discover the unknown parts of Slovenia

Even with 7 days, we didn’t have time to do that, but if you’re determined, YOU certainly can!

This week, I’m going to tell you about the charming time we had in Kamnik!

KAMNIK

The Little Castle / Mali Grad in Kamnik – Slovenia
©A. Fevžer – Ljubljana Tourism

Kamnik, otherwise known as Stein in Oberkrain, is a town in northern Slovenia, beneath the peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps!

Kamnik was first mentioned in 1229, when it was an important trading post between Ljubljana and Celje, thus making Kamnik one of the oldest towns in Slovenia!

In the Middle Ages, Kamnik was one of the most influential centers of power for the Bavarian Counts of Andechs, and developed into a charming medieval town. Sadly, the only remnant of the Bavarian nobility are the ruins of two castles near the town center, and the Franciscan monastery!

Kamnik – Slovenia still retains it’s rich history and many cultural sights in the Old Town!

Having said that, Kamnik still retains it’s rich history and many cultural sights with the Old Town still very much present in the Austro-Hungarian style, as well as it’s surrounding area, representing a starting point for the numerous outdoor activities such as hiking through the valleys, hills, and mountains around Kamnik, and the breath-taking nature of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps!

Courtesy of Ljubljana Tourism, we were invited to go on a day-trip to experience what it was like to be a craftsperson for the day, how to be a herdsman or a shepherd in the Velika Planina, and to do a few hikes up the Alps, mountains, and waterfalls in Kamnik!

We took the local Kamnik bus in Slovenia!

We were supposed to take a local bus and make our own way to the city of Kamnik.

At first, we were a little confused as the bus station in Ljubljana doesn’t really look like a bus station, and is sort of in the middle of the road! And we thought we would be meeting our guide in Ljubljana, so we spent a bit of time wandering around and wondering where our guide would be!

Once it clicked that we were to meet in Kamnik, we found many a bus going in that direction. Our ticket was just €3.10 each, and the journey took about an hour!

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Our smiling guide – Matej Hribar – on the Velika Planina – Slovenia!

Once we got to Kamnik, our smiling guide – Matej Hribar – was there to meet us!

We shook hands and then drove through the village in his car to the next meeting point, which was to the Velika Planina cable car, and also to meet our lady cheese guide!

Unfortunately, I can’t remember her name. ‘So sorry!

Going up the Velika Planina cable car in Kamnik-Slovenia

The aerial cable car usually takes just five (5) minutes from the Kamniška Bistrica Valley at 560m, to the Velika Planina’s Šimnovec at 1419m above sea level, which we had to go up to!

Myself in the mountains of Kamnik on a day trip in Slovenia! With incredible views!

Even though we were in Slovenia in June, the weather was visibly cool and even rather foggy and misty, but the view was incredible!

And stupidly, for some strange reason, I opted to wear my nice orange suede shoes rather than my hiking shoes!

I mean, I knew that I was going hiking, and took my hooded jacket and rain coat, but it just didn’t occur to me to take my hiking shoes too!

I’m still smiling, even though my suede shoes were utterly ruined on the Velika Planina plateau in Kamnik – Slovenia!

Well, I paid for that, as my suede shoes were ruined and utterly soaked through!

Oops!

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WHAT IS THE VELIKA PLANINA?

A shepherd on the Velika Planina plateau in Kamnik – Slovenia
©Aleš Fevžer – Ljubljana Tourism

The Velika Planina, otherwise known as ‘big pasture’ is an independent settlement of herders and shepherds on the Big Pasture Plateau, in the Kamnik Alps of Slovenia!

In fact, the Velika Planina is one of very few herders’ settlements of this scale, and is the largest shepherds’ settlement in Europe!

The Velika Planina in Kamnik-Slovenia, is the largest shepherds’ settlement in Europe!

Wow!

It is distinct because of the homes which are scattered around the Velika Planina.

The wooden huts and barns on the Velika Planina, are single-room dwellings with oval roofs covered with pine shingles, and extended extremely low!

The wooden huts and barns are single-room dwellings with oval roofs covered with pine shingles, and extended extremely low, so that space is created for livestock to be inside the huts too!

Nowadays, there are very few permanent residents in the settlement, but every June, the local herdsmen bring the cattle to the Velika Planina, move into the herdsmen’s huts, and stay there until September, to tend to grazing cattle!

Grazing cattle in Slovenia!

Sadly, we arrived at the beginning of June, and were a little too early to see them all!

And so the hike began.

On the ski lift in the Slovenian Alps. But I won’t be doing it ‘cos I fell off the ski lift in the Czech Republic!
©Andrew Lloyd – Slovenian Tourist Board
The empty chair after I fell off the ski lift!

There is actually a chair lift that takes you from the highest summit in the Velika Planina at 1666m, and is used during the skiing season or for cycling and running competitions!

I don’t like chair lifts as when I was younger, I fell off the ski lift in the Czech Republic! It wasn’t pretty, so hiking down the mountain it was!

On the way down we saw many more huts, and hiking trails for trekking, sprinting, and mountain biking on the Velika Planina in Kamnik – Slovenia!

On the way down we saw many more huts, and hiking trails for brisk walking, trekking, sprinting, and mountain biking!

Ahoy! The path is rocky on the Velika Planina in Kamnik-Slovenia!
©Matej Hribar

But do be careful, as running down the mountains and valleys could lead to breaking your ankle, as the path is rocky!

Follow the signs on the Velika Planina in Kamnik – Slovenia!

And if you’re ever lost, just follow the signs!

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The cheese lady, myself, The Tall Young Gentleman, and our guide – Matej Hribar – at the Preskar’s Hut Museum, on the Velika Planina – Slovenia!
©Matej Hribar

As part of our hike journey, we went to Preskar’s Hut Museum!

Preskar’s Hut Museum is a hut that exhibits the life of herdsmen in the 19th century. We were far too early in the season for the traditional herdsmen and workshops, but our guide – Matej – had the key, so we could venture inside!

And what an exhibition. Take a look at the photographs!

Shepherd’s tools at Preskar’s Hut Museum on the Velika Planina in Kamnik-Slovenia!
Shepherd’s churning jugs to make cheese, at Preskar’s Hut Museum on the Velika Planina in Kamnik-Slovenia!
Shepherd’s traditional clothing, at Preskar’s Hut Museum on the Velika Planina in Kamnik-Slovenia!

 

In front of Shepherd’s traditional clothing, at Preskar’s Cottage on the Velika Planina in Kamnik-Slovenia!

We continued our hike and by this time we were pretty peckish, so to the Zeleni Rob Lodging House we went!

And in this lodge, we not only had a bite of lunch, but we also learnt how to make cheese!

Not your typical hard cheese but a Slovenian speciality called “trnič.”

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HOW TO MAKE TRINIC HARD CHEESE!

How to make Trnič hard cheese on the Velika Planina in Kamnik-Slovenia!
©Jošt Gantar – Slovenian Tourist Board

Cheese making has a long tradition in Slovenia and the Velika Planina is particularly known for Trnič, which many consider the most romantic of Slovenian cheeses!

Trnič is a pear-shaped hard cheese from Velika Planina – which resembles a female bosom!
©Klemen Brumec

Trnič is a pear-shaped hard cheese made in the Velika, Mala, and Gojška Planina, in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, which resembles a female bosom!

In the 19th century, “Trnič” hard cheese was only made by the herdsmen, and was a symbol of love, given to a sweetheart as a sign of faithfulness, and also a promise of marriage! They were always made in pairs and decorated with the same ornaments.

The herdsmen kept one of them and presented the other to their beloved. If she accepted this gift, it meant she agreed to his courtship!

Our lady cheese guide showed us how curd is made from heated sour milk, and cream or salt added!
First, the curd is made from heated sour milk, and cream or salt added!

First, the curd is made from heated sour milk, and cream or salt added!

Next, the clumps are shaped and kneaded into the shape of a female bosom!

Next, the clumps are shaped and kneaded into a dough. We found this difficult to do, as the dough is kneaded into the shape of Ahem!

A female bosom!

Afterwards, the trnič dough is decorated with patterned wooden sticks!
©David Lotrič – Slovenian Tourist Board
My own effort at decorating the trnič dough, wasn’t quite as good!

Afterwards, the dough is decorated with patterned wooden sticks!

The trnič dough is left to smoke over an open fireplace or dried in a warm, dark, airy space!
©Jošt Gantar – Slovenian Tourist Board

They are then left to smoke in the shingle over an open fireplace or dried in a warm, dark and airy space for about two (2) to three (3) weeks!

Finally, the trnič cheese is grated which you can just about see!

Finally, the trnič cheese is grated and sprinkled on risotto, porridge, pasta, soups, salads, or very thinly sliced and sprinkled with honey, pepper, olives, pumpkin seeds, or butter!

Phew!

Now for a bite of lunch!

We had the Štrukli with trnič cheese & berries. It was amaaaazing!

‘Remember when we had Štrukli Truffles in Zagreb – Croatia?

This time we had the Štrukli with trnič cheese and berries.

It was amaaaazing!

We needed to work off some of that delicious snack so more hiking was necessary, and a drive to the valley of the Kamniška Bistrica!

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THE VALLEY OF THE KAMNISKA BISTRICA!

The Valley of the Kamniška Bistrica in Kamnik – Slovenia!

The Kamnik Bistrica, otherwise known as Kamniška Bistrica, is an Alpine river in northern Slovenia.

The valley of Kamniška Bistrica Valley is named after the Kamnik Bistrica River, which is 33 km or 21m long!

The river is one of the cleanest in Slovenia and boasts a series of natural attractions.

I wasn’t able to hike on the Koželj Trail, but “The Tall Young Gentleman” did a short version, with our guide!

I wasn’t able to hike on the Koželj Trail ‘cos of the wetness of my orange suede shoes, but “The Tall Young Gentleman” did a short version, with our guide!

Look at the lovely gorges of Veliki and Mali Predaselj in Kamnik – Slovenia!

The valley of Kamniška Bistrica plunges from the south, into the heart of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and is a very popular starting point for outdoor activities such as the gorges of Veliki and Mali Predaselj, and the 30 metre high Orglice Waterfall, otherwise known by the locals as Worglše, Orglice, Orličje, Orlišče, or simply, the eagle!

Look beneath your feet! It’s the beauty that is Slovenia!

What can I say!

Next, we had even more food!

I think I’ll postpone it and tell you all about it in a few weeks!

Myself & “The Tall Young Gentleman” on top of the Velika Planina in Kamnik – Slovenia!

That’s it for now.

See you next week.

Book your hotel here!

HOW TO VISIT SLOVENIA: INTRODUCING KAMNIK – A TOWN STUFFED WITH MOUNTAINS AND CHEESE!

How to visit Slovenia: Introducing Kamnik – A town stuffed with mountains and cheese!
©Tomo Jeseničnik – Slovenian Tourist Board

This article is part – sponsored, and even though I’m working in partnership with Ljubljana Tourism, absolutely all opinions, and the trnič cheese that we made, are my very own!

I’ll be spending the summer in Germany!

Will you?

How to visit Slovenia: Introducing Kamnik – A town stuffed with mountains and cheese!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How to visit Slovenia: Introducing Kamnik – A town stuffed with mountains and cheese!

Have you ever heard of Kamnik? Would you spend your time hiking, being a shepherd, or eating cheese? Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

The beginner’s guide to going up a volcano: because going up a volcano isn’t for everyone!

The beginner’s guide to going up a volcano: because going up a volcano isn’t for everyone!

Last week, I told you that part of our summer in Asia was of going to Indonesia. Indonesia is one of my favourite countries and going to Bali brought back memories of my travels all the way back in ’99!

Last week, I told you how I went on a cycling tour and fell in a ditch, but that isn’t all I did. Oh dear me no! I also decided to try my hand on going up a live volcano.

Craaaaazy!

I had heard about how easy it was to climb them from a young American blogger called Ashley. Her blog is called Ashley Abroad and this year she spent considerable time travelling around the world and finding herself. At the beginning of the year, she climbed Mount Batur which is Bali’s most active volcano! She made it sound reasonably easy so I decided to do the same.

Ha! If only I had known….!

Some of the licensed trekking guides on top of Mount Batur, Bali.
Some of the licensed trekking guides on top of Mount Batur, Bali.

I did a little research and found that a local company called Pineh Bali Tours seemed to have the sort of activity that I was looking for and were well organised with various outdoor activities such as white-water rafting, cycling and of course, trekking up the various volcanoes that Bali had to offer. We opted for the Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour.

And Gulp!

They weren’t joking about the sunrise part of it.

The Music Producer had taken a turn for the worse and decided to stay behind in the safe hands of the wonderful Alam Shanti Resort Hotel and the blissful quietness of the two level Utari House in the rice paddy. Not the Utari House in the city centre! The staff were great and I arranged for regular cups of tea and slices of cake to be sent up to our house, while my husband slept away and tried to recover from the illness that he had unfortunately picked up in Thailand.

Book your hotel here!

The mountain is alive! Mount Batur, I'm coming!
The mountain is alive!
Mount Batur, I’m coming!

And so it was left for “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I to undertake an adventure never discovered before, aka – climb a live volcano in Bali!

What was I thinking?!!

As promised, a car came to pick us up at 02:00. I mean, 2 a.m. in the morning! We hardly slept but I made our 12-year-old son go to bed at 21:00 so that he would get some shut-eye.

It was too early to eat so we just had a drink and then crawled into the car which already had a young American couple in it, who were just as bug-eyed as we were.

A banana pancake in Bali. Why do we always have to have this? I hate banana and I don’t like chocolate! Sigh!

Within an hour, we arrived at the Pineh Colada Bali coffee plantation and organic farm. It was freezing cold, but we managed to have our included breakfast of banana pancake sprinkled with chocolate sauce. Sigh! And a variety of tea and coffee. I don’t like coffee either so I stuck to the tea.

The Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides, waiting for business.
The Association of Mount Batur Trekking Guides, waiting for business.

At about 04.00, we proceeded to the base of the volcano where not far away was a car park and also the licensing office. The volcano is a treasure and is well guarded, it’s also live and therefore dangerous. We don’t have to look far to remember volcanoes that have erupted in recent years such as that in Iceland. As a result of this, one licenced guide is allocated to at least 4 people and 2 guides for 6 people. We were a group of four (4).

We were given a young English-speaking guide who then gave us bottles of water and torches. These torches were very much-needed as it was pitch-black. The volcanic ash was dark and all around were the twinkle of village homes. And so we proceeded upwards and onwards.

Let me tell you. It was awful. Scratch! Scratch! Scratch! Akwaaaard!
Let me tell you. It was awful. Scratch! Scratch! Scratch!
Akwaaaard!

Let me tell you. It was awful.

The path was extremely narrow and it was pitch-black. I couldn’t see a thing. Thank goodness, “The Tall Young Gentleman” had on a red-jacket. On one hand, I kept a constant eye on where he was, and on the other, a hand on the rocks in front of us. The young couple travelling with us were quite irritating as they wanted to run to the top of the volcano as apparently, they were leaving for Spain in less than three (3) hours. Er. What!?

I, on the other hand, was just struggling to breathe up there and I had to rest every few minutes. I wish I could have said every five minutes but it was distinctly less.

I wanted to turn around right there and then but that wasn’t an option as there was a long line of people with torches, also behind me, and in the pitch darkness, it just wasn’t an option. Also, the guide has to stay with the tourists so if we split up, we would have a problem. In the end, our guide attached the couple to a group leader that he knew, so that we could again, go on at our own pace.

Some of the other tourists wrapped up warmly.
Some of the other tourists wrapped up warmly.

It was a long hard slog with enough time for me to think of why I was doing it. Why the hell was I climbing up a live volcano when I even had trouble walking up five flights of stairs?

I’ll tell you why.

Because I’m an idiot.

I like challenges even when I know perfectly well, that it’s a rubbish idea!

Honestly, looking around me, I saw lots of 20-somethings skipping merrily ahead and in flip-flops no less! I saw very few people over 50 and even less under 10. I’m in the middle and I have to confess, I found it a struggle.

“The Tall Young Gentleman” in the midst of Mount Batur – Bali’s most active volcano.

And The Tall Young Gentleman? He had a blast, sang to the sound of music, and skipped along too!

I tried not to cry and then the guide started giving me words of encouragement, “it’s only 20 minutes away” when it was actually 2 hours away! He held my hand, carried my “city” backpack and made me rest when my eyes began to get blood-shot with tears. He began chatting about the village life of local Balinese people and the stories of why they have a temple in the middle of the hike to remember people who had died from volcano eruptions years before. It didn’t make me sad, it just made me more determined.

At about 06:30, we finally made it to the top of the volcano.

The heavens began to open on Mount Batur. In Bali.
The heavens began to open on Mount Batur. In Bali.

There was an eerie silence as the sky was cloudy and then it happened. The clouds parted and the heavens appeared. It was a “wow” moment and complete and utter silence.

We were on top of the world!

Slices of bread and eggs boiled in the steam of a volcano!
Slices of bread and eggs boiled in the steam of a volcano!

We were completely exhausted and an included breakfast was welcome. We were offered eggs boiled in the steam of the volcano, sliced bread and a banana. I opted for a cup of tea and put down my plate for just a second when I saw a sudden movement.

Monkeys!

I hate monkeys.

One of the monkeys on top of Mount Batur in Indonesia!
One of the monkeys on top of Mount Batur in Indonesia!

And I’m scared of them.

As soon as I saw it, I realised that it was not only eyeing my breakfast plate but also my backpack which had a bottle of water sticking out of it, as well as my camera bag. I began to shake as monkeys can be ruthless. I managed to slide the bag away from it but left the breakfast, and all of a sudden there were more.

More monkeys.

OMG!

There was a monkey temple on the peak of the volcano and they knew that once people were around, so was the food. I took a few photos and tried to step away from them.

Monkeys! That was our breakfast by the way!
Monkeys! That was our breakfast by the way!

Slowly.

I have a few photos but they are pretty shaky!

Soon, it was time to go back down and it wasn’t any easier. It was worse!

My knees! My poor knees!

I don't know how they do it! The Balinese locals run up and down Mount Batur. And with no shoes on too! I even saw a local lady. With a baby on her back. Going up! They've all got perfect knees!
I don’t know how they do it! The Balinese locals run up & down Mount Batur. And with no shoes on too! I even saw a local lady. With a baby on her back. Going up! They’ve all got perfect knees!

Thankfully, there was a view so that we were able to actually see the beautiful valley and lakes, and the temples scattered around the volcano. We also walked through a few villages where people were going about their business and selling fruit, snacks, and live chickens to passersby.

A Kopi Luwak or Asian Civet.
A Kopi Luwak or Asian Civet.

After another hour or so climbing down the volcanic mountain, I gave our guide a hefty tip and we were once again driven by private car, back to the Pineh Colada Bali coffee plantation and organic farm, where we could look around the plantation and see that most interesting animal called a Kopi Luwak or a civet. Apparently, the coffee berries are eaten and then defecated out by this creature. The droppings are then cleaned, roasted and ground to be made into coffee. The aromatic falvour and its unusual process make the coffee one of the most expensive brands in the world.

It’s a good thing I don’t drink coffee!

They had a range of exotic drinks such as Bali Coffee, Vanilla Coffee, Lemon Tea, Ginger Tea, Ginseng Coffee, and Coconut Coffee. Tea yes! Coffee yuk!
They had a range of exotic drinks such as Bali Coffee, Vanilla Coffee, Lemon Tea, Ginger Tea, Ginseng Coffee, and Coconut Coffee. Tea yes! Coffee yuk!

However, you do get a chance to have a snack of banana fritters, try some strange fresh exotic fresh fruit, and a wide variety of tea and coffee to taste, ranging from ginseng coffee to ginger tea.

THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO GOING UP A VOLCANO!

Don’t be an idiot like me! Get fit & do some yoga.
Before you go!

And so to what you’ve all been waiting for – the beginner’s guide to going up a volcano.

  1. Get fit
  2. Go to bed early
  3. Go with a reputable company such as The Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour
  4. Wrap up warmly. In layers
  5. Bring a torch
  6. Take some snacks
  7. Get a little fitter
  8. Make sure you’re between 12 and 50 years old or possibly a well-honed 60
  9. When you get to the top, breathe in the sights
  10. Protect your breakfast from monkeys
  11. Mind the monkeys
  12. Take in the views again
  13. Now take photos and videos
  14. Prepare to do all that hard work all over again coming down
  15. Relax. It’s exhausting
  16. Have breakfast and taste as many different breeds of coffee as you can, as you’ll probably won’t find them again
  17. Try the poop coffee
  18. Buy some of the local stuff
  19. Go home
  20. Sleep
We're on top of the world, or at least on top of Mount Batur, in Bali!
We’re on top of the world, or at least on top of Mount Batur, in Bali!

Here’s the info:

WHAT IS PINEH BALI TOURS?

Pineh Bali Tours is a local Balinese owned and operated business focused on small organised trips to visit and climb Mount Batur, and other areas around it.

WHAT IS THE BATUR SUNRISE TREKKING TOUR ABOUT?

The Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour is a private organised tour and a once in a life-time experience to see the sunrise from the top of Bali’s most active volcano – Mt. Batur.

Phew!

A Balinese temple in Bali, Indonesia!
A Balinese temple in Bali, Indonesia!

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND BALINESE?

Nope!

This particluar tour was in English but being that the tours are private, I’m sure that they would try to link different guides with different people. If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, as most of the staff members spoke a multitude of languages, and are dedicated to ensuring that you enjoy your time and experience with Balinese nature and culture.

WHAT DO I NEED?

A pair of good walking shoes, a pair of thick gloves, a warm jacket, a scarf, a torch, a hat, some water, a camera, some snacks, and a huge smile!

Me with a huge smile on the beach in Sanur, Bali.
Me with a huge smile on the beach in Sanur, Bali.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes, this volcano tour includes a small breakfast, a variety of tea and coffee, as much bottled drinking water as you want, and a small lunch.

The trekking tour costs $40 or €32.60 per adult.

Return transport is included and they will collect you from Kuta, and Nusa Dua at 01:00 and Sanur and Ubud at 02:00.

Book your hotel here!

It's
It’s “only” a km away to Mount Batur in Bali.

MY VERDICT:

A tiring day.

It was an exciting challenge and an adventure that I wanted to do.

I ticked off that bucket list but I probably wouldn’t do it again!

My guide, as well as the other guides that I met, were wonderful and so professional. Climbing a volcano isn’t for me but don’t let that stop you.

If you want to do it, then DO IT!

What a wonderful view of Mount Batur in Bali!
©Jessy Eykendorp – Tropica Living

My knees cackled, and my glasses got smudged with ash and tears, but I’m proud that I made it once, up the most active volcano in Bali!

Everyone should go on an adventure tour of sort every now and then, if only to make sure that you’re not dead!

Well recommended!

WHAT IF THE PINEH BALI TOURS ISN’T MY CUP OF TEA?

Keep reading my blog. There is more to come!

For more information please contact: The Batur Sunrise Trekking Tour

Clinking glasses while drinking exotic beverage after an exhausting hike, on top of a volcano. In Bali! Phew! We made it!
Clinking glasses while drinking exotic beverage after an exhausting hike, on top of a volcano. In Bali!
Phew! We made it!

This article is not sponsored and even though I received a discount, all opinions and the large variety of drinks that I sampled, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so next week I will be continuing our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar and you can read what happened to me with those pesky monkeys……!

Christmas is coming, with more exclusive productions, and merry-making at German Xmas Markets. Whoop! Whoop!

A week ago, a British company contacted me and asked me to contribute my expert knowledge on Germany and Britain. You don’t need to ask me twice. Here it is: The 5 best differences between Germany and Britain.

Additional National Theatre Live productions are also coming up and can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:

For the rest of the year, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Fashion Week is coming up and will take place between January 19th and January 23rd, 2015. Save the Date!

December is going to be jolly!

Watch this space!

The beginner’s guide to going up a volcano: because going up a volcano isn’t for everyone!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

The beginner's guide to going up a volcano: because going up a volcano isn't for everyone!
The beginner’s guide to going up a volcano: because going up a volcano isn’t for everyone!

Have you ever been up a live volcano? Would you swallow coffee poop!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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