Posts Tagged ‘Church’

My visits to the Big Island follows a familiar pattern: land in Kona, rent a vehicle and head to the Volcano Nationals Park for a couple of nights. Many of my mother’s family live on the Hilo-side of the island and it’s always great to see them and catch up with all the happenings.

We landed later than usual (after 8pm), and since the drive to Volcano National Park is about 95 miles from the airport, we decided to stay the night in Kailua-Kona. Kona is probably the most “touristy” spots on the island ~ reminds me of Lahaina on Maui. Lots of shops, restaurants and activities. And traffic.

Kona Parks and Recreation

The Parks & Rec building in Kona

Kona waters and seawall

Early Morning in Kailua-Kona

Kamehameha the Great, the first king to rule all the Hawaiian Islands, chose Kailua-Kona as his home. It’s not hard to imagine why ~ the waters are bountiful with fish, the area is beautiful and, if you can picture it without throngs of tourists, it would be an ideal place to call home.

Here are a few highlights of the town:

The historic sites include Hulihe’e Palace, built in 1838 by Governor Kuakini, is now a museum run by the Daughters of Hawaii. Directly across the street from the palace is the Mokuaikaua Church, built 1820. It’s the first Christian church built in the Hawaiian islands.

Kailua-Kona is the start of the swim and the finish of the world-famous Ironman Triathlon. Below is the swim start:

Kona start of the Ironman swim and end of the run

Every October, about 2,000 athletes compete in the Ironman by swimming 2.4 miles in the rough ocean waters, 112-mile bike ride and to finish it off, there’s a 26.2 run which must be completely within 17 hour deadline. It’s a brutal event and, many years ago, I was thrilled when I had a chance to cheer some of the participants during the running event.

Kailua-Kona is a great stop for a day or two but don’t let it be your only experience on the Big Island ~ there’s so much more to do and see elsewhere on the island.

Kona sailboat on the waters

Sailboat in Kailua Bay


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Lake Bled Castle and swans

Bled, situated in the Julian Alps, has beautiful churches, a castle high on a hill, picturesque mountains, hiking, boating, swimming, delicious restaurants, a casino and a whole lot of history. The first mention of Bled was when Henry II (Holy German Emperor) gifted it the Bishop Brixen in 1004. At that time, there was already a Roman tower on the cliff which is still a part of the castle.

Lake Bled Sunset
Looking out to the Castle and sunset

Bled dinner with a view of the castleEnjoying the view while having a delicious dinner Blejska kremna rezina
Blejska Kremna Rezina (Bled Cream Cake). Ištvan Lukačevič, a pastry chef at Hotel Park, invented the delightful cream cake in the 1950s. When you’re in Bled, always leave a little room for this gem of a dessert.

Lake Bled Castle and ChurchBled Castle Lake Bled Running TrailThere’s a running/walking trail around the entire lake, about 6.7 km. Although it should only take about an hour to walk it, I prefer to stop often, enjoying all the lake has to offer: watching the swan family, running to the top of the bleachers at the rowing center and stopping to enjoy the gorgeous views.

Lake Bled serene settingSerenity in Bled Lake Bled Rower statue Rower Statue. Slovenia’s Olympic rowing team practice at Lake Bled. Bled petting the swan Children attempting to pet the swan, who really only wants some food. The ONLY type of food that should be given to the swans are dandelions. Bled Lake Swans and a babyLake Bled Church
The Church of the Assumption of St Mary on the island at Lake Bled. More about the island in my next post.

If you’re visiting Slovenia, you should definitely spend at least one night in Bled, preferably with a view of the lake.

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Lake Bohinj, nestled in Triglav National Park in the Julian Alps, is crystal clear and a fabulous location to spend a hot summer day. Surrounding the lake are quaint villages, many churches, the mountain peaks, forests, waterfalls and gorges. Hiking and rowing are popular but it was too hot for me to partake in any strenuous activities. It was July and the temperatures hovered around 36°C (over 96°F). Despite the crowds, we were able to enjoy a few times when we were alone by the lakeshore and the only ones in the church.

Logan and Patti at Lake Bohinj SloveniaThe waters of Lake Bohinj felt so refreshing on a scorching summer day.

Bohinj LakeClean pristine alpine lake

Bohinj lake rowersGreat place to take out a kayak or canoe. The only tour boats allowed on the lake are electric so it’s very quiet. Bohinj goat

Slovenia has a lot of legends and I particularly like the one about Zlatorog (which means Golden horned). The Golden horned goat lived in Mount Triglav, and attended by three virgins, he guarded a vast treasure at the mountaintop. Many men attempted to kill Zlatorog and steal the treasure. One such greedy hunter was able to shoot the goat which caused his blood to run for miles ~ carving out the mountains and lakes surrounding Triglav. At the scene of the crime, the world’s first edelweiss flower sprouted. When Zlatorog ate the blossom, his life was restored. He ran toward the hunter, who was blinded by the sunlight reflecting off the goat’s golden horns. The hunter lost his balance and fell off the mountain to his death. The symbol of the Golden Horned Goat represents a warning against greed. Bohinj view from the boat of St John the Baptist Church

Bohinj lake sitting by the shoreThe goat guards the lake… St John the Baptist Church next to Lake Bohinj in Triglav National Park Gothic styled St John the Baptist Church sits on the eastern bank of Lake Bohinj. It dates to the 15th century (first recorded mention of it was in 1464) but it is thought to be older. The beautiful bell tower was added in the 1700s. St John the Baptist Church Triglav National Park IIIThere are beautiful frescos inside St John the Baptist Church but the church also had some rather morbid looking paintings and displays: St John the Baptist Church with head of St John. Triglav National Park Head of John the Baptist. I realize it’s an accurate depiction but who wants to stare at a head all through church service. Bohinj Outdoor restaurant just up from the lake
A restaurant near the lake. Don’t remember the name ~ they served pizza, beer and the likes.

Triglav National Park Bus StopThe little villages around the lake are so pretty and quaint. Even the bus stops are adorable. Every single one of them had beautiful flowers. Makes me sad to think about our pitiful bus stops (usually just a sign)… Bohinj House on a misty morning
Beautiful house in the mountain mist

Bohinj Flowers in every windowTaken from the car so this is fuzzy. But every house seemed to have flowers in every window. So lovely…

Lake Bled Home with flowers near mountain
Fabulous mountain view!

Mrcina Ranch Lake Bohinj region
Mrcina Ranch. We wanted to get out into the backcountry on horseback but it was too hot for the horses. The ranch has the cutest Icelandic horses but also has other larger horses as well. It’s definitely on our “to do” list for next time.

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