It rained on the 70th day of our European backpacking trip — for the first time. We had amazing weather for this trip, which I like to think was some sort of built up karma from all the camping trips I’ve been on over the years. We trained into Ljublijana, Slovenia and then took a bus to Bled. We arrived at the station in a downpour and had a 15 minute walk to our hostel, so we resigned ourselves to getting soaked and started the hike. Three minutes into our walk, a woman approached us and asked if we were looking for the hostel. We said yes. She asked us if we would like a private room with our own kitchen, bathroom, living room, cable TV and free internet for the same price as the hostel room. Before this trip we probably would have assumed she was some sort of murdering thief, but now we were wise to the ways of the pension culture of this part of Europe, and we were sold. (Mom, if you’re reading this please don’t retroactively freak out!)
We piled into her car and she drove us to her home, where she had a private apartment in her basement that was all she had promised and better. She spent 30 minutes showing us where to go and eat on the map of the tiny town, and then made the beds fresh in front of us. It was still pouring, so we promptly fell asleep.
The next two days rained and rained and rained. We were close to a grocery store, so we took advantage of the full kitchen and bought real food: chicken and potatoes, veggies and tea. We lounged, caught up on emails and photo transferring, and — in the couple hours where it only drizzled and the sun even peaked out for a couple minutes at a time — we walked the 6.5km around Lake Bled. Backpacking can be exhausting, and our time in Bled was spent recharging. I still remember the conversations we had while meandering around the shoreline: reminiscing about university and our first year in Korea, and beginning to plan a future together.
We had planned to leave on October 31st. But it’s a holiday there, and everything was closed. Same with November 1st. We had no money to pay for our room or to catch a train out of town. The ATMs didn’t accept our credit cards (we tried every single one in town), and none of the banks were open. Bled is very nice, but two days there is enough… we didn’t want to spend five days! We thought we were pretty well stranded (albeit the thought of resting up in that nice apartment for another few days was very tempting), but then Rob came up with a brilliant idea: the casino. Yes, on this statutory holiday, the casino was open. He walked in with his credit card and passport and said he wanted to gamble. They gave him a cash advance of several hundred euro, and he walked out. Brilliant! And we were on our way to Salzburg!