Leaving Oberaudorf, we took a bit of a detour to avoid a traffic jam, and were treated to another random castle. OK, it probably isn’t random, it probably has good geographical and political reasons for being there, but we didn’t stop to find out:
Then back into Austria for the straight shot to Slovenia. The kids fell asleep, tired out by their morning on the mountain, but when Sprockette woke up she wasn’t happy. That is, until we went off the highway and onto a secondary route to try and find gas (not easy on a Sunday). She stopped crying as soon as we got off the highway, and loved this bit:
And then started again as soon as we got back on and it looked like this:
We ended up stopping at a reststop and eating and playing for a bit. Then onward to Slovenia! Of course, there are no borders any more, but the toll station for the tunnel under the mountains that separate Austria from Slovenia will do:
We paid our toll, and bought our vignette (a sticker you put on your car instead of paying tolls in a country – we now have Switzerland for 2011, Austria for 10 days and Slovenia for 7). And then through the tunnel to emerge in our 37th, 35th, 16th or 11th country! Sprockette picked up Luxembourg and Liechtenstein on this trip, but for the rest of us it was the first new one in a while.
Bled sounded nice, so we decided to go camp there. And it was beautiful, though the campground was pretty crowded by my tastes – DutchBoy thought it was totally normal:
And a panorama – spot the van:
The first day we didn’t do much. Sprocket made a new friend with a cheekily cute little 3-year-old English girl who was camping next door. They got on really well:
And Sprockette also got stung by a wasp – they were everywhere. At least we’ve determined she’s not allergic. She was fine after a bit of crying and sting stop.
And the kids played with their Papa:
And we tried to set up the tent that came with the van. Another thing we probably should have done before we left home, because as it turns out, the tent is made for a different kind of vehicle, one that has a rail that’s 2.44 to 2.55 m high, not the under 2 meter tall one on the van (I found this out when I went online looking for a user manual). It was sad, and I was sad that we hadn’t prepared well, so sad I didn’t even take a picture of it because it depressed me – but here’s a bit from the panorama:
At least it provided a bit of privacy, even if we had to move it out of the way to open doors and our heads hit the top of it. Sigh. Another thing to find and buy. At least I can make sure to get one I like.
The next day, we headed into Bled, taking the tourist train around the lake (I didn’t get a picture of that either – that felt like it would have elevated my cheesy tourist quotient just a step too high – but we’re talking about one of those trains on wheels that go through zoos and the like.) It was a nice way to get into the town and we had nice views of the lake the whole way. And the kids liked it of course.
Here’s a panorama of the lake from in front of the campground, taken while I was waiting for the train:
And the regular shot:
And the panorama from the other side:
And a couple of regular shots:
And then we saw what there was to see in Bled. Not much as it turns out – the attraction is really the lake and the outdoorsy stuff around it. The town is basically a shopping area built into a hillside with shops and restaurants for tourists. We did find a tiny camping store and got some more gas for our little stove, since we haven’t managed to get propane for the bus stove yet. I know, I know. No pictures from the town of Bled either, but it wasn’t that interesting. We had some crepes that were pretty good, and then Sprocket ran around and around while Sprockette slept in the stroller. Pretty exciting stuff.
Then we walked along the water for a bit, Sprocket fed grass to a swan:
And played with the relief map of the area, making trains go around the lake and things through it:
And we found our next fixer-upper project, now that we’re so good at it:
And we just missed a train going home, which made us get back too late, but while we were waiting for the next one, we got ice cream and then DutchBoy showed Sprocket things on a map:
When we got back, Sprocket was pretty wild, which really made us appreciate this van:
We chose for another day of doing nothing much. Sprocket’s friend left to go back to England and he was not happy. As soon as he woke up he was standing outside their caravan like a lovesick teenager, waiting for her to come out and play one last time. They were really cute together.
And Sprockette got a tick. The silly thing is I’d seen it the night before when bathing her, but I had no idea what it was. DutchBoy did recognize it, and freaked a little. The English couple were just leaving, and gave us the (bad) advice to scrape it out. I looked it up, and found out what to do and tried my best to do it. It seemed to get cleared up quickly but it’s still scary though.
We did have maintenance type plans, like doing laundry, but when we found it was €5 each for the washer and dryer, we decided we could make do. We got some maintenance type things done, but it was a hot, sticky day, and we finally decided to head down to the lake for a swim, of course, just after the clouds rolled in. DutchBoy was reluctant to come in, but the kids loved it, especially Sprockette.
Then I got excited by seeing something that looked like it could be perogies in the campground store, and bought some. After boiling them, I found they were more like dumplings (which is also what it had said in the English translation on the package but I was so hoping for perogies), and fried them too to make them yummier. DutchBoy and I thought they weren’t too bad, but the kids weren’t impressed and wouldn’t eat them – though they’d devoured rice and lentils the previous night. Funny tastes.
In the morning we packed up and left. One final scenic shot of the church as we left:
I was a bit sad that we hadn’t gotten out to the island and the church, but the options were paying €10-12 each for a tourist boat, or renting a rowboat for €10/hour – an hour would have been enough, but with Sprockette being such a monkey and Sprocket impulsive we didn’t think it was safe. Similarly, there was a beautiful gorge nearby, with a walk through the trees and over a stream and such, but with these kids we didn’t think it would be the best idea. Even with Sprockette in the back carrier, we weren’t sure about Sprocket not trying to run and climb about. But we did have a good time anyway, and the area around Bled is certainly gorgeous – and Slovenians are nice and friendly and most, at least in the tourist places we’ve been to so far, are happy to speak some English, even if they only speak a bit. So although we didn’t do much, we might go back to the area (maybe not to Bled itself, except to take a boat out to the church), especially if I can convince DutchBoy that the outdoors is fun.