Tuesday, 22 July 2014

It's elemental

We fear the dark - somewhere deep in our unconscious ancient brain, we know that darkness is to be avoided. So all the more joy then, when a candle is lit and the darknesses is cursed.

How much joy is there when 10,000 candles are lit all at once? The highlight (pun not intended) for me during Bled Nights and Bled Days was Saturday night. (To add even more significance it was also Dawn and my 31st wedding anniversary.) 

We stood - thousands of us - on the ground or sat on the benches around the lake. Others were punted on the lake by a clutch of pletnas, more watched from the far shore and the castle, did some fly over?. A slight breeze - warm, but not as hot as the day had been. Earth, wind, fire, water. Elemental.

There was a stillness: yes there was a band or two playing in the background, but even they gave up when the 10,000 candles floating on eggshells spread across Lake Bled. One report said that there were 15,000. but who was counting?

Then a test firework to gauge the speed and direction of the breeze. then the fireworks.

We walked back to our apartment through the crowds who had come from around the world. The litter baskets were stuffed, yet although in the darkness I could see no litter. 10 hours later I was walking back into town, and there was no, none, zero litter from the night before. Congratulations to the organisers and the spectators. 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

The Voronezh Girls

This is what the Bled Festival website said:

The 18-member Russian choir of the Voronezh State Philharmonic known as Voronezh Girls was founded by renowned Russian composer M. A. Galinker in 1966. The choir has performed in over 40 countries worldwide and holds awards from many festivals and music competitions. The selection of musical pieces is based on the Russian female lyrical songs characterised by deep emotions, diversity, and the charming harmony of female voices. Exquisite vocal performance is complemented with luxury costumes and delightful choreography. The wide vocal spectre of the singers enables the choir to include in its programme diverse musical pieces ranging from folk songs to the extremely demanding works of contemporary composers.

On their tour of Slovenia, the Voronezh Girls will be accompanied by a group of top musicians – virtuoso players of diatonic Russian accordions and traditional balalaikas.

And here are the photos:

Monday, 30 June 2014

End of week two

Yesterday cycling (yes, me, cycling) around the hamlets nearby, there were several cars being re-packed for the long drive home. Sunday marks the end of the holiday and if this were a normal holiday we would be waking up at home this morning, not here in Bled.

There was another wonderful thunderstorm last night. After a day of bad weather in Austria and Italy, the mountains could no longer hold back the weather and the overspill into the sunny side of the Alps was dramatic, noisy and entertaining. This is the third thunderstorm in just under a week. Whether it's hot and sunny, wet and thundery or just bright and cool. like this morning, the weather is not boring.

We are both feeling healthier. Local fresh food from small supermarkets, fantastic salads, bread, fruit. I don't think we have ever ate so well.

And exercise. Walking mainly. To Bled centre is 25 minutes. I'm cycling or just following paths. Some are too challenging. But I'll get there. 

And there is so much more to Bled than Lake, Island, Church, Castle, Pletna boats. And you don't have to look far to find them. Some of the buildings are beautiful/impressive/interesting ... oh and there are several ugly hotels, but at least they are in the one place and most of the time you won't see them.

Coming up this week; to Ljubljana for the day.

Some of my best photos are here on Flickr.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Music this summer

There is a lot of music around during the summer in Bled, not the least being the Bled Festival which starts next week. 

Most nights of the weekend, there is a band playing at the Park Hotel Terrace. Last night was the Beer Belly Band; not Cambridge based rock band, but the Slovenian purveyors of Irish and Scotish music ... well. four of them - according to their website and Facebook page there are normally six. 

How did they do? It is odd hearing a band set up in Slovenian and then kick off with an accent perfect "Molly Maguires". They are technically very good musicians, tight, well rehearsed/practised, note perfect with a few extra diddly-dums thrown in. It was good, but it wasn't ceilidh. They seemed a little bored. Maybe it was the audience; there weren't many, but they were eager to enjoy themselves. A lively bunch with northern english accents behind me picked up for a sing song with My Aunt Jane, (I'll Tell Me Ma, Belle of Belfast City - you choose the title) and Loch Lomond.

With a bit more passion, it would have been a great night.

Friday, 27 June 2014

New Phone

It took hours, but I finally found it. "Set Language" option in my new Slovenian phone was buried deep somewhere in the various menus. With Google Translate in one hand and a Tusmobile Nile FF which cost 19,79 € in the supermarket.

Just don't drop it from even a small height.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The George Best Backpackers Bar

This is a must visit for people from Belfast, Northern Ireland and probably some from Manchester, too. IFA and ManU shirts - framed on the ceiling, a mural of George and other photos jostle with other sporting memorabilia. Bestie and Muhammad Ali on opposite walls. Some decidedly prog rock plays in the background followed by side 2 of Abbey Road (from the days where there were two sides to an album). 

BACK is a good 15 minute walk from the bus station in the direction of the other hostels. This is where the young adventurers are, the adventure sporters, the party people. On a Tuesday afternoon cooler than the last few days following an almighty thunderstorm last night, it is quiet - almost a place to be reflective.

Large Union (well we are in Slovenia) (500cl) 2.20 euro and I'm away but not before noticing how much less Guinness costs so far away from Dublin and Belfast. Still a euro more than the Lasko and Union.

A place to return to. And not far on the bus from where I'm staying.

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Firestation Party

Yesterday Mlino Fire Station celebrated its centenary. And what a party. It began with a parade of about 20 vehicles and appliances driving through the hamlet up to the firestation. A little later I gate crashed. Barbeque, beer, music and dancing. people in traditional dress, folk bands, brass bands. And well into the night disco (I could hear it from our apartment across the valley).

Now, it's a while since I shot and edited a video. And on this occasion I only had a little point and click camera, but I hope this captures some of the atmosphere.

And here are some photos.