I started the day with a hearty hotel breakfast. Croissant, fresh bread, yoghurt, cereal and, somewhat oddly, a plateful of cooked to order scrambled egg. No other hot food available.
More importantly, plentiful coffee and orange juice washed it down. I left the table and commenced the twenty minute walk to the bus station. A struggle as hips and feet decided to complain in unison. But a success. As I looked at destinations such as Munich, Strasbourg and Zagreb I decided Lake Bled was an easier option. Handing over my €12.84 for a return ticket (cash only accepted) I set out to find bus number seven as instructed by the ticket agent. And discovered that the buses don’t have numbers on them.
Walking past a coach driver I asked the question and he pointed upwards to a string of blue numbers hanging out of the sky. I’d made it to bay 21 and he pointed me back towards the ticket and the already long passed bay 7. I arrived just in time, the single decker with an attractive blonde driver exiting the depot moments after I took my seat.
An uneventful 80 minute drive got me to Lake Bled. Minutes after heading off around the lake the impact of the earlier coffee and orange juice began to prey. Not to worry, lots of little shops and cafes I thought. Closed. Out of season. The canoe centre closed. Getting a bit worried.
At last. A welcome “WC” sign and an arrow that led me to a turnstile underneath a small stand for rowing spectators. 50c. Miserable sods. I reached into my pocket, assessed the funny money and found three coins that added up to the required amount. As I pushed through the turnstile a ticket magically appeared and I thought to myself “they’d better have one of those posh Dyson hand dryers” for this money.
I pulled the door handle. Locked. I find myself trapped between turnstile and door with bladder in prep mode expecting quick action. I look through the door window. No sign of life inside, which is probably good. I’m not sure what I might have seen! Getting worried now, I pressed a button they’d placed there for disabled assistance. Somewhere, who knows where, a phone rang. I noticed the CCTV camera pointing down at me. Eventually a curt foreign voice answered. I asked if they could open the door, smiling (sort of) at the camera. I waited a moment, then a crackling noise as the person on the other end of the line hung up. Without opening the door.
I stared at the CCTV, pointing at my ticket, the door, and even doing a little dance to convince somebody of the urgency of the situation. Nothing. 50c wasted. And they’d even charged me 22% VAT in that and completely failed to deliver the service paid for. And because they’re in the EU I’m not even able to reclaim the 9c when I leave the country. The case for Brexit has never been stronger.
A couple of minutes later I found a few trees between lake and path that appeared to provide a little privacy. No charge. Just a strange look from a woman who I hadn’t spotted coming in the other direction.
All is good with the world again. But I’ve had my first negative Slovenian experience.