A ninety minute north of Ljubljana drive brings us to an enchanted little fairytale like island in the middle of Lake Bled. High on a hillside stands Bled castle…one that has stood for over 1000 years. It is the oldest castle in Slovenia.
The castle sits above beautiful Lake Bled, a calm, serene fresh water lake, fed by the snow melt from the Julian Alps. In the middle sits an enchanting little central island, which has been home to a single Gothic church built in the 1400s. Oh my, how picturesque is this?!
The only way to get to the island, is by boat. It’s not too good for swimming though…the water is a chilly 40° and you’d be taking a dip in snow melt!
The church has been renovated many times due to earthquakes. In 1534, a new bell tower was added from the money given by a young widow who once lived in the Bled Castle. According to the legend, she had a new bell cast for the chapel on the island in memory of her husband.
During the transport of the bell, a terrible storm struck the boat and sank it together with the crew and the bell, which to this day is said to ring from the depths of the lake. After the widow died, the Pope consecrated a new bell and sent it to Bled Island. It is said that whoever rings this bell giving honor to Virgin Mary gets their wish come true. Of course, everybody takes a turn at ringing the bell and you can hear it chiming away all afternoon.
The castle also has a print shop that has a reconstructed printing press like the Johannes Gutenberg original, the first of its kind to mass produce text onto handmade paper. The first book ever to be printed this way was the Bible, individual letters set in, one at a time, inking the keys, then pressing onto paper. Gutenberg originals of the Bible are among the most cherished and valued texts among collectors.
Have you ever wondered where upper and lower case come from? The capital letters were kept in the upper case of the bookcase drawers, the small letters were kept in the lower case. And minding your Ps and Qs? That came from the fact that it was very easy for the printer to get the p’sand q’s reversed since they were mirror images of each other. Who knew?
At the end of our visit, in the castle courtyard, our tour guide introduced us to an unforgettable Slovenian treat, the original created here at Lake Bled at the Park Hotel, called the Slovenian cream cake. A thick creamy layer of vanilla custard, topped with a healthy dose of pasty cream, with a thin topping of puff pastry dusted with powdered sugar will put a smile on everybody’s face and have you on a definite sugar high for the rest of the afternoon, but it’s so worth it!! That is one huge piece of cake!
These didn’t last very long…everyone downed these before we could take photos of everyone eating them. I’ve already been looking for recipes for this on the internet. Apparently, I’m not the only one who wants to have more of this dessert!