Another of Slovenia’s national treasures is its glorious national park, conveniently situated about a mile outside Bled. (Actually, everything in the country is conveniently located; the entire country is about the size of New Jersey.)
Vintgar Gorge is something of a marvel. It is a swift and beautiful river carving its way through sheer cliffs. Its water is absolutely clear, and you can see to depths of perhaps 20 feet in the deep pools. But the real marvel is its history. In 1887 (not a typo) two private individuals fell in love with the place, and constructed a walkway that crisscrosses its way down the gorge out of metal braces (think lengths of railroad tracks driven into the cliff walls) supporting wooden planks (think Santa Cruz Boardwalk, but only three feet wide) for a distance of a couple of miles up the gorge. Their ambition, which has been fulfilled to this day, was to make the lovely setting accessible to everyone, including people who are unable to hike on a mountain trail.
The gorge was nationalized some years ago, but was privately maintained for decades, and can be accessed for a very modest fee (about 3 Euro per person). The whole river is somehow completely unspoiled by pollution, development, or even fishing/swimming. We loved spotting the wild trout in great profusion throughout the stream.
Slovenia turned out to be a wonderful and relaxing place to spend a few days. This morning we decided to abandon our plans to spend a few days on the beaches of Croatia and instead to head into northern Italy. We are all very excited to make our way into Venice (tomorrow night), wine country, and eventually to Rome on August 22.