Our journey into Slovenia continued with relative ease. The Austrian roads were clear and smooth, the tunnels long and dark, and the drive was pleasantly uneventful. We were keeping good time and we were unaware that we had actually crossed the border for a moment or two until we noticed the signs had changed. This then led us into a temporary panic over not having a Slovenian vignette which was short-lived, thanks to a service station a little further along the motorway that helpfully advertised said vignette availability.
The Slovenian vignette set us back another €30 as an entire week was the minimum period we could purchase one for. My resentment at having to buy a vignette that we would only need for two days out of the seven was slightly appeased by the knowledge that we would be stopping in the country for a whole three days on our return. At least we would get a little more bang for our Euro on our return journey.
Today’s journey was shorter than the previous two days, much to our relief, and our next stop was just over half an hour away from the border. Emerging from the Karavanke tunnel, I noticed how row upon row of houses sat in perfectly neat, straight lines as they all faced towards us, sitting on the flat land by the feet of the mountain range – the range’s flat feet, if you like. We travelled along the A2 at a pace much faster than its Kent-to-London namesake, passing by Slovenia’s only National Park, the Triglav, over to our right. As we drove a little further along we passed the signs for Lake Bled. I had been longing to see this lake for a while and here we were, driving right past where it lay hidden from our view. Could you really come to Slovenia and not take the time to visit this great lake?
Given the late decision to stop overnight in Slovenia, there was a little pressure to arrange somewhere for us to stay with only two weeks notice. Finding somewhere that is large enough to accommodate us all is not the easiest of tasks. Finding somewhere within a reasonable budget is necessary. Finding somewhere which sits at a convenient mid-way point between the last stop and the next is preferred. And finding somewhere that is open to guests at this time of year is challenging.
During our stay in Slovenia, we’ve learnt that there are options to rent a camper van right then and there (in case you were wondering how to join in on the adventurous lifestyle but without a camper of your own!). Unfortunately, there are too many of us to take advantage of this option but it’s something to bear in mind if you’re travelling with fewer people. Make sure to book on time and Slovenian roads could be yours, too!
After a lot of searching and a few emails back and forth we had found a wonderful little camp site in a village called Brezje, just a 15 minute drive or so from Lake Bled.
The village seems to have kept the unspoilt feeling of a small community despite the influx of visitors it has to deal with due to the Basilica of Mary Helper of Christians. Surrounded by an expanse of fields against the mountain backdrop, it was a pleasantly pretty area to stay in. We followed the owner’s excellent instructions to find the camp site. I use the term camp site loosely, as it is actually the tree dotted garden of a lovely Slovenian couple. Breda, a senior school maths teacher, and her husband Jože provide an intimate little plot in the North West of Slovenia for campers who don’t need or want the hassle of a commercial camp site. The land itself is not overly large but a good enough size to accommodate several tents or motorhomes that might arrive during high season. Electricity points are available, as is a shower room, although this was closed due to the time of year.
On my initial email enquiring about the possiblity of camping on their site, Breda was quite concerned about the temperatures. No wonder it was so difficult to find somewhere to camp at this time of year – the night time temperatures dipped considerably. No problem at all, Breda reassured us, as they also had a self contained apartment that we could stay in.
We didn’t have any trouble finding the site but, with two houses to choose from once we had got through the gate and parked up the minibus, Mike and I weren’t too sure whose door to knock at. It didn’t seem like anybody was around and so we spent a little time walking back and forth, trying to find someone we could speak to. As we wandered around deliberating whilst I tried to switch data roaming back on my phone in an effort to find some way of contacting them, Jože came out of the large grey house we were standing in front of and greeted us warmly.
‘The nights have been very cold,’ he told us. ‘You can all stay in the apartment.’ And he showed us inside.
The apartment was the self-contained basement area of their home with its own independent entrance. Being in such close proximity to them concerned me a little as I did not want to risk the children disturbing them, a notion that both he and Breda was quick to dismiss. The doors opened up to a large open plan living room with a pull-out bed already made up in the corner. A large dining table surrounded by chairs sat beside it, a fridge freezer stood in the corner and a small unit with microwave in between. Along another corner was a unit containing a two ring hob and a sink whilst an island trolley with a kettle stood opposite. The other side of the room led to two large bedrooms, one with a double bed and another with two single beds. Breda and Jože also provided two further single mattresses for us to use. They were concerned that there still were not enough beds but we reassured them that between the younger children sharing and the inflatable mattresses we had brought along, we would be perfectly fine.
Breda and Jože had invited us to share a glass of wine and a chat with them that evening. We always feel that the welcome we receive is more important than how a place looks – although I hasten to add that the entire home and gardens were absolutely wonderful here. We were made to feel incredibly welcomed and at ease. I can’t remember where I found the site originally but I do know that it is also on Airbnb here. If you haven’t tried Airbnb already and are thinking of booking somewhere through it, please do consider using our Airbnb referral link. We will earn a little credit towards our travels if you do and will be extremely grateful.
The offer of wine and a chat was gratefully accepted as we rounded up the children. With a few hours left until night fell we were keen to take advantage of the short time we had left to explore the village and, of course, Lake Bled.