A cool, cloudy day today. We headed for Radovlijca, a nearby village that is home to the Apicultural Museum, housed in a beautiful 16th century building. The main square is charming. We saw a few men drinking beer outside at 10:00 in the morning on a Sunday – must be a ritual. We stopped briefly in the gingerbread store/museum, then on to the bees.
Because Tina had taken us to a local village where the father of beekeeping lived, we were already familiar with the tradition of bee panels. They were first designed in the 18th century as unique images that would help the bees find their way home to the hives. Here we saw a big collection of them, some with religious themes, others humorous, like this one. (Notice that at the hunter’s funeral, all the animals are rejoicing, except for the dog.) These statues, made to mimic Napoleonic or Ottoman soldiers, were sometimes mounted near the hives to protect them.
We wandered towards the church and behind it to a WW II bunker that is now a memorial to Edith Stein, a Jew who became a Carmelite nun and was killed at Auschwitz. As we rounded the church, the congregation came out and slowly left on foot, by bike or by car, chatting with each other as they departed. In search of sandwiches for lunch, we came to a cafe and bought the mysterious toast sandwiches we see advertised everywhere. They turned out to be toasted ham and cheese, so warm and good that we ate them on a bench outside.
Back into Bled and on to Lake Bohinj, another tourist spot that is more outdoorsy and less crowded than Bled. (Bohinj is pronounced with a chewy H and the j is silent, if that helps.) We followed the road along the lake, a very impressive sight with the mountains plunging down to the water, and then along a twisty little road, farther and farther, until at last we came to the end of the road and the trailhead for Slap Savica, the Slavica Waterfall.
Rick Steves says there are 588 (or some such number) steps to the waterfall, so one of us was a bit apprehensive. But we took it slowly and made our way up there sooner than we expected. It’s a good waterfall, notable mainly for the way it springs out of the rock halfway down the mountain – that karst, you know, with its vanishing and reappearing rivers, lakes and waterfalls. After taking pictures for others and in turn having pictures taken for us, we came back down and drove back to the lake.
Time for tea and cake! We still have not had the famous Bled cream cake – this one was called Marlenka and featured honey and nuts, yum. We ate it in a little place smack up against a sheer rock face, which one intrepid tourist tried to climb, though not for long. A few more pictures of the lake, the photogenic church, and the emblematic Zlatorog (kin to the one we saw in the Julian Alps), and we went idly in search of the Alpine Dairy Museum.
We found the right village, Stara Fuzina, but didn’t immediately see the museum, so we parked and looked around. This is the advantage of having a car – just follow your nose and see what you find. Everywhere you see either hay racks – this one still with hay drying on it – and these two-story sheds. The walls are for drying hay, underneath there is usually some lumber stacked up, and above are various implements. Some children were playing on the upper floor of one of them.
And we couldn’t help taking pictures of the icons. Tina told us that three-quarters of the population here is Catholic but only a very small number are active church-goers. Nevertheless, these little shrines are everywhere – you never know when you’re going to run into Jesus as you travel about.
We did find the museum at last and had a wonderful conversation with a woman washing her car nearby. Trying to determine whether it was the Alpine Museum or some other place, I kept saying “kuhe” meaning cow, since lots of people here understand German, while she kept telling us in Slovenian that the museum was closed until 4:00, finally pointing to my watch and tapping the number to make sure we understood. Oh, well – Google translate later helped us to know it had indeed been the dairy museum, but we will have to visit it another time.
An uneventful trip back to Bled,where we parked the car for the last time, returned the rented hiking poles, and had our last glass of wine on the balcony. Dinner back at the first place we went, very nice despite a big crowd of loud Brits. And so to bed.