About six (or so) months ago, when we were still planning out and booking this trip, I came across an interesting Airbnb for a stay in Slovenia. It was a listing for a campsite near the Alpine river Savinija, located about halfway between Maribor and one of my most highly anticipated stops, Lake Bled. The ‘room’ was basically a giant triangle, with a tent located inside:
I sent the listing to my best friend on Gchat (yes apparently a huge chunk of our planning happened over Gchat) and I said something along the lines of, “Ugh, can you imagine sleeping in that triangle thing?” She responded with some witty comment, supporting how I felt about the idea of sleeping in an open tent next to multiple strangers and potentially screaming children. I sent it to my husband about the same time, and he simply responded ‘we’re doing it.’
To be fair, it is located on a river in one of the most beautiful locations in Slovenia, surrounded by mountains and lush vegetation, and blah blah blah all of that good stuff.
It is not that I don’t like camping, or the outdoors (in fact, I actually really enjoy both, and have done my fair share of pitching up tents for several nights in a row). There was just something about the triangle rooms smashed together in a row, and the idea of communal living which really turned me off (no offense to anyone who thrives on that, just my experience).
But, I knew that there was a part of me that sort of wanted to do the whole outdoor sleeping under the stars camping experience as well, because I sent it to my husband fully knowing that he was going to jump at the chance to do it. We compromised on one night in the outdoor triangle camp ground, and I booked it while internally reasoning with myself, “I can stay anywhere for one night’
Once we arrived in Slovenia, it hit me that my ‘night in the triangle’ was approaching much quicker than I realized. I would jokingly complain to my best friends about how I was dreading it, but if I am being honest, I think part of me actually believed that we were going to end up leaving the campground with some really amazing memories. Hey, who knows, maybe I would even end up writing an inspiring blog post about how you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or something equally as heart warming that would surely move millions of people to book their own camping experience.
Well huge surprise, that did not happen.
When Al and I woke up in Maribor, on the day that we were scheduled to head to The Triangle, it was pouring rain. I stared out of our window and just thought to myself ‘I can’t believe of all the days for the weather to be shitty, it’s on Triangle Day.’
We got in the car and plugged the location into the GPS, and realized we would be arriving to the Triangle in about 90 minutes. This was not enough time to wait out the rain, so we decided to just take random detours when we felt like it, to try and buy us some time for the rain to die down.
Our first detour, was a beautiful town located on the side of a hill called Fram. We decided to check it out at the absolute last minute (Al is yelling at the exit SHOULD I TURN OR NOT? TURN OR NOT?!) simply because our group of friends refer to each other as ‘Framily’ (Friends + Family) and often shorten it to Fram.
I’m not joking. This is the only reason we decided to turn and visit (beauty of a road trip) and we were rewarded with such a beautiful drive, and views of the country (only a few which I managed to whip out the camera for) :
After Fram, the rain still hadn’t let up, and it was closing in on 1:00pm at this point. We figured we might as well just head to The Triangle, and see what happens. About 15 minutes out of Fram, I was distracted by road signs reading ‘Laško’. Laško is the most well known local beer in Slovenia, so I made the genius connection that it must be brewed in the town Laško! (you guys, I know, I’m really smart). We decided to take another detour to Laško to see if my hypothesis was correct.
Well it turns out I was right, and Laško is in fact, where they brew Laško. We explored the town via car, and had a Laško in Laško! (something I couldn’t stop saying over and over, which Al got sick of extremely quickly)
After Laško, the rain still wasn’t letting up, but I knew it was time to face The Triangle. Once we arrived, I could tell (vaguely) through the fog and the smoke, that this was probably an insanely beautiful location, if only you could actually see it.
We trudged through the rain and mud, and knocked on a few wrong doors (to some very confused Slovenians) and then eventually ran back to the car to regroup, and so we could try and call the Airbnb host. We were cold, wet, covered in mud, and tired from driving around in the constant rain for hours. I looked at Al and said, “We have to at least go and look at it.”
So, we did. We walked down a long muddy slope, and met the owner of the campgrounds (who was really nice, by the way). He showed us around, and pointed at several different Triangles that were available to us. I had to stop myself from exclaiming ‘you mean we get to choose our very own sopping wet triangle to sleep in!?’
He explained that the river was too high to do any canoeing, kayaking, or white water rafting because of the rain. He also told us that the place we were standing in was breathtakingly beautiful, when it wasn’t covered in fog and rain.
Al and I took one look at each other, and without speaking, had an entire conversation with a single glance, which was basically ‘There is no way we are staying here.’
We politely let the owner know that we only had one night there, and since the weather was so terrible, there was really no point for us to spend one of our precious few nights in Slovenia shivering in a leaky tent.
I felt a small sense of freedom knowing that neither of us felt any inclination to ‘prove’ that we could stick it out in this place, just because we had previously committed to it. This trip is not about proving we can make it through hard situations, this trip is purely about doing the things that we have always dreamed of doing, and enjoying life as much as possible. And, I have never dreamed of spending 40 euro to sleep outside in a triangle filled with cold, wet mud. (Side note – yes, I do realize that there are people in the world that sleep in much worse conditions, and that my life could be much worse off, so I have no real reason to complain).
The owner seemed almost relieved, and we walked back up the muddy path, and back into our car. At this point, we both decided it made the most sense for us to head straight to Lake Bled, which was where our Airbnb was reserved for the following three nights. This would get us there a day early, but would also mean we would have to find a place once we arrived.
We drove two hours through near zero visibility and non-stop rain, and finally arrived to Bled around 5pm. A little note here, that Bled was always one of the locations I was looking the most forward to, so my hopes were relatively high.
Once we arrived, it was already crawling with tourists, and all we wanted were dry socks and a warm bed. As we pulled up towards the lake, I looked around and was less than impressed with what I saw. It was way more touristy than I imagined. There was even a Bled Casino, and a Bled Mini Putt Putt course (not to mention a McDonald’s). It was nothing like the Slovenia we had gotten used to. Once we got our first glimpse of the lake, I looked at Al and said, “Is that it? That’s not it, is it?” Not exactly the words you hope that will come out of your mouth when you’re seeing a destination you’ve been anticipating for the first time.
It took us about an hour of jumping into different hotels, Airbnbs and Apartamans, before we eventually found a hotel within our budget.
We finally settled into our room, and were pleasantly surprised with having a balcony overlooking beautiful mountains for us to unwind with a glass (bottle) of wine.
Afterwards, we decided to take a stroll around Lake Bled, hoping to catch the sunset. I didn’t know it as we descended the giant hill from our hotel to the path surrounding the lake, but I was about to have one of the most memorable few hours of my entire life.
I won’t write too much, because the pictures will probably say much more than I could ever blab on about:
We spent nearly four hours walking around the lake, hiking up paths, and just basically staring slack jawed with amazement over how beautiful this place is. I completely forgot about Bled Casino, and got to see the Bled I had been dreaming of.
After night fell, we decided to stop into a bar (for a Laško, obviously) for a beer before heading home.
At the bar as we rested our feet and drank our cold beers, I told Al that I was so thankful for the rain we had, because it lead us to make so many decisions we never would have made otherwise. We knew when a situation wasn’t working out for us, and didn’t hesitate to make a change, make the right decision for us, and move forward.
Almost everything went wrong today, but somehow, it was still one of the best days of my life.
This small but significant twist allowed us to experience a sunset that will never exist in time again, and a memory of a day that we will always remember as our unexpected, frustrating, messy, yet completely perfect road to Bled.