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The delay with repairing the headlight bulbs meant that we did not leave Camping Panorama until just before noon on the morning of Thursday 29 July. We then drove on along the A8/E52 autobahn through Germany and into Austria. After buying an Austrian autobahn vignette at the border post we drove southwards through the length of Austria. Near Salzburg we turned onto the A10/E55. I was glad that I had had the headlamp bulbs changed as the torrential rain enroute was the worst I had ever towed in. Visibility, even with the head and fog lights, was so poor I was grateful for the added visibility that the "large cream box" we were towing gave us!! Near Villach we joined the A11/E61 toward Slovenia. After stopping at a service area to buy a Slovenian motorway vignette we entered Slovenia via the Karawanken Tunnel. . I'm not a lover of long tunnels but at 8 miles it was at least a little shorter than the St Gotthard Tunnel which we have used when visiting Italy. At least it wasn't raining in the tunnel and it got us through the Julijski Alps with ease. After the tunnel the road became the A2/E61 and a after a few miles we turned off onto the 209, on the western outskirts of Radovljica. towards Bled.

We arrived at our next stop Camping Bled in the late afternoon of Thursday 29 July still in torrential rain. We had driven 176 miles that day.

Lake bled

We had not booked but phoned ahead during the afternoon and been assured that they would have room for our "long" (by Continental standards) 7.2m 'van. We were using out "Tom-Tom" with recently added "Alan Rogers POI Europe" to help us locate this site and this directed us around Lake Bled in an anti-clockwise direction. We were very concerned when application then tried to send us off the main road and under a worrying low railway bridge. We phoned Camp Bled but were assured that the arch was high enough. Fortunately we, also, had "Archie's European Campsite POIs" loaded on the "Tom-Tom" too and that directed us to continue on the main road. We followed "Archie's" advice but were still having trouble finding the site and so pulled over in a convenient lay-by. Whilst I got out to stretch my legs Cary again phoned Camp Bled on her mobile. I, however, had by then noticed from a nearby sign that we were actually stopped in a lay-by at the campsite entrance!!! Doh!! We later realised that the campsite staff had thought we had been asking about a much higher arch over the road when approaching from the other direction.

The site was very busy and nearly full when we arrived. We booked in requesting a pitch with an EHU and a suitable size for our "long" 'van. We were given a map with a place marked and key to the EHU box and told to return if that pitch was not a suitable size. The receptionists spoke perfect English.

Our smallish pitch turned out to be on grass near the end of a row and sloped both ways!!! Access was very difficult but we managed with the assistance of the motor mover. It was hard to get the 'van level and I had to break low level branches off a tree on the pitch to enable the 'van to fit. As it was still raining we both got absolutely soaked setting up.

The last straw was when I discovered that there was no spare electrical point for our pitch, despite having paid for it! When I came to plug into the EHU there were no empty sockets and a number of the sockets had domestic type extension blocks plugged into them with several outfits plugged into those! These extension blocks were lying on the wet grass under the box!? When I queried this, on my mobile, with reception they said that they did not correlate between the numbers of people booking EHU and the number of EHUs available.

Unable to get anywhere on the phone I returned to reception for a face-to-face conversation. The staff did not seem to understand my safety concerns and apparently just dish out these socket extension blocks as necessary. The receptionist me offered me the options of another domestic extension block or to move to another pitch!!!! I got pretty annoyed as, by this point, I was very tired and very wet, and asked to speak to the manager. No manager was available but the receptionist phoned one and he said we could stay on the pitch for free without electricity and they would sort out things the next day. By then I was totally "cheesed-off" so I agreed, very reluctantly, to plug my continental EHU adaptor into a Continental DOMESTIC socket block which was left out, in the pouring rain, under the EHU box. and was still given the free night. Basically there were not enough EHU points for the size of the campsite.

Bled is surrounded by mountains

The next day, Friday 30, the weather was a little brighter but still cloudy. Better weather, however, was promised for the following day. We spent an interesting afternoon food shopping at Hofer (Aldi) and Spar supermarkets. It took ages to find the Hofer which is on an industrial estate in the town of Lesce about 3 miles from Bled and close to the motorway. We then had great fun deciphering the Slovenian labels. I had forgotten to buy a Slovenian phrase book so I hope we didn't buy any horse mince or whatever less palatable delicacies Slovenia offers.

Camping Lake Bled is set in a pleasant valley at the southern end of Lake Bled. The valley sides are high wooded cliffs. The site's main access roads are tarred and of a good width. There are no views of the Lake from any of the site's pitches. The pitches are generally flat and of reasonable size. There are some trees which provide shade on some pitches. The several toilet blocks are of modern design and kept very clean. The only taps for drinking water are at the toilet block washing-up areas and not all of these are suitable for filling aquarolls, etc. At least one of the toilet blocks had an upstairs launderette with coin-operated washing machines and tumble driers

Island church

Most of the site's amenities are near the entrance. Adjacent to the the campsite entrance, with views over the Lake, there is a cafe and ice cream parlour. Further back there is a large restaurant/bar with a large outdoor terrace. We did not eat at the restaurant but the menu, which included an English version, was comprehensive and seemed reasonably priced. There were live music groups accordion and guitar in the restaurant most evenings. Near to restaurant there is small supermarket belonging to the campsite. There, is, also a children's playground in this area and an enclosure with rabbits, pigs and other pet animals.

The reception area includes a display of brochures for local attractions. There are, also, computers for use by campers. The campsite offers a number of outdoor activities, eg, white-water rafting at extra cost. Free wi-fi is included in the pitch price but we found it to be slow and unreliable on our pitch which was quite near to reception.

By the Friday the evening weather had brightened so we walked to the nearby public promenade along the edge of Lake Bled. The views of the Lake, island, castle and snow-capped mountains beyond are stunning. We watched the darkness fall over the castle and Island Church which was quite magical.

Castle on lake Bled

We finished off the evening listening to the Church bells before walking back to the 'van. Enroute we got a free concert by sitting at an outside table in the, closed, campsite cafe and listening to a guitar and accordion folk duet who were performing in the adjacent restaurant - cheapskates, eh, but very pleasant nonetheless.

Opposite the campsite entrance, across a minor road, there is a large public grassed area stretching down to the lake which was popular with sunbathers and swimmers. There are mature trees shading this area. There are superb views along the length of the lake and including the island Church and castle. At the lake edge there are platnas, traditional covered wooden boats rowed by a rear oar, which take passengers to the island. The fare is €12 return and includes 30 minutes on the island to visit the Church and museum. There are, also, self-row boats for hire.

On the Saturday 31 we took a platna to the island and enjoyed looking around and ringing the "wishing bell" in the Church. Amazingly whilst visiting the island I met another supply teacher and her family, who I know from Liverpool. The island is quite small and 30 minutes gave plenty of time to explore and take photos of the lovely views. On returning from the island we spent afternoon sunbathing on the lakeside grassed area outside the Camp gates.

On Sunday 1 August we did a complete walking circuit of the Lake - this was mainly on pathways with only a few sections on road footpaths. People were, also, using these pathways as a cycle track. On the way we passed Bled's swimming "pool" which is actually sectioned-off areas of the Lake but with a variety of pool, slides, etc.

On our circuit we took the opportunity to visit the town of Bled. Bled itself is quite an ugly town of concrete buildings from the Communist era. There is a range of shops, hotels and restaurants including a supermarket but finding a parking space is VERY difficult.

Lake Bohinj

There is stunning mountain scenery in the area. We spent Tuesday 2 August visiting the Bohinj Valley which we reached by car. This contains the beautiful Lake Bohinj which is very natural in its appearance as building on the lakeside has been prohibited. We picnicked and paddled on the lakeside and took the return trip on the, imaginatively named, "Tourist Boat" along the length of the lake. It was a pleasant trip with a live commentary from a very friendly crew member who spoke excellent English. We, also, took the Mount Vogel cable car which gave superb views over the lake and valley, although the summit itself was a bit desolate and scruffy with unused skiing facilities.

The departure point for the "Tourist Boat" was located within Autocamp Zlatorog, a campsite located on the shores of Lake Bohinj. Whilst walking through the campsite to the boat landing stage we took the opportunity for a quick look around the campsite. The campsite's location was stunning and the toilet block was clean and modern. However when we visited in early August it was packed to bursting with caravans and camping units of all types. The caravans on the lakeside pitches were parked lengthways and were almost touching. Washing lines were hung from the trees and the whole site had a rather untidy and disorganised appearance. The campsite might be okay out of the peak season.

We stayed at Camp Bled for a total of 5 nights. The weather was rather mixed for our stay with several rainy days. For the caravan, 2 adults, dog and EHU we paid €152.88 for 5 nights.

If returning to the area we would, also, consider staying at Camping Sobec which is just outside the town of Bled on the road to Lesce. The "Alan Rogers" guidebook says it has views over another lake and river access. We passed the entrance but did not visit.

by BigTim

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