Lake Bled

4 June – Lake Bled, Slovenia

Sunny and warm for my one hour bus ride north to scenic Lake Bled, known for its emerald green mountain lake with Bled Castle perched high above, all amidst the Julian Alps.

Bled was first mentioned in 1004, when it was awarded by Emperor Henry II to Bishop Albuin I of Brixen. (If you couldn’t be an Emperor it paid to be a Bishop.) Bled Castle followed by 1011. In 1274, Bled fell under the Habsburgs, lasting until 1919, except for a stint between 1809 and 1816 as one of the Napoleonic Illyrian Provinces. After the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918, Bled came under the rule of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and became a summer domicile of the ruling House of Karađorđević, a tradition that President Josip Broz Tito continued when he built his residence here in 1947. Tito knew a good view when he saw one. (more…)


Ljubljana Dragon

1 June – Ljubljana, Capital of Slovenia Ljubljana is said to be founded by the Greek hero Jason, who stole the Golden Fleece and along with his Argonauts sailed the Argos across the Black Sea and up the Danube and Sava. In transit they stopped at the Ljubljana Marshes where Jason slew the Dragon. Thus, the Ljubljana Dragon depicted on the coat of arms. Like Jason, I am happy to be here. (more…)

The Balkans

Dubrovnik Croatia

I graduated from Purdue University a history major. Yet, what I know of the Balkans could be counted on one hand 1) where it is 2) Tito lived there 3) Milošević was there 4) the Saracens, Mongols, Huns, Manichæans, Romans, Byzantines, Christian Crusades, Venetians, Ottoman Turks, Napoleon, Italians, Austrians, Hungarians, Nazis and Communists sacked and pillaged at their pleasure over the centuries, and 5) if Franz Ferdinand had stayed home instead of traveling to Sarajevo in 1914, the world could have waited a little longer before plunging into World War One. Therefore, my goal before I dock there in May is to read as much as possible and arrive less ignorant.  If I offend any Croat or Serb in this process, it is out of my ignorance, not out of my efforts to understand a complex situation.