Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary
Bled Island, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Stairway to Heaven - Lake BledMarital bliss. Too much to ask? That's the promise for the lucky groom to carry his bride-to-be up the 99 steps to ring the bell and wed in the church at the top of the stairs on Bled Island. I'll be honest, they're kind of steep, so you really gotta want it.
Slovenia is magic and Bled is the dove appearing from thin air. High in the Julian Alps, this mountain village is home to a castle, ski slopes, gorges and the famous lake surrounding the country's only island.
There are tours to ferry you out to the island, but row your own. Swan boats are available for rent in different spots around the shore and you should pack a picnic and hit the oars. No special skills necessary outside of not falling out of the boat while getting in. Once settled, you'll leisurely glide through floating flocks of ducks and geese as you make your way across the lake. The world just seems bigger from a small boat on the water and the panorama does not disappoint.
Making island landfall, the stairs loom. We didn't know about the carry-the-bride thing until we clawed our way to the top and explored the grounds and church. After reading about the tradition, it was back down the steps.
Fortunately, there weren't any large groups to gasp at our feeble folly. The mantra is "one step at a time" to carry you to the top. Already being married made me suspect about the effort. The picture is a reminder of the good fortune we bestowed on our marriage that day. All 99 steps worth.