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Hidden Gems of the Dalmatian Coast & Greece 2014

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Pre-trip: Bled, Slovenia

With its spectacular mountain scenery, a healthy sub-Alpine climate, crystalline lakes and rivers, and idyllic little medieval towns—Slovenia truly is an amazing corner of the world. Explore Lake Bled, situated in an area with infinite unspoiled natural treasures, including stunning cliffs and majestic mountains. You’ll also venture to smaller, more out-of-the-way towns and historic villages.

It's Included:
Accommodations: for 3 nights in Bled at the unrated Kompas Bled Hotel
4 meals: 3 breakfasts and 1 dinner
Included tours: Ljubljana, Lake Bled
Exclusive services of an experienced Grand Circle Program Director
All transfers
  • You depart from the U.S. for Slovenia.

  • You land in Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, and then transfer to the city of Bled and check in to the hotel. Depending on your arrival time and hotel check-in policy, you may not be able to check into your room immediately upon arrival. Your Grand Circle Program Director will advise you of your check-in status and activity schedule for the day when you arrive.

    Enjoy a guided walk around the vicinity of the hotel to get acquainted with this scenic part of Slovenia. The peaks of the Julian Alps rise above the waters of Lake Bled, while a clifftop castle and an island church give the scene a fairy-tale aura. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers over a Welcome Drink. Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • This morning, head out for an included tour of Lake Bled and the surrounding region. Bled is blessed with natural hot springs regarded as having healing powers, and has been a popular fresh-air retreat since the mid-19th century. Two prominent features in Bled's vistas date from earlier in its history: Bled Castle, which for 800 years was the seat of the bishops of Brixen (now South Tyrol); and a 17th-century church located on an island in the lake. You'll probably hear the pealing of this church's "wishing bell," which dates from 1534, since legend has it that a wish made by someone who rings it will come true. You may wish to visit both these sites during time on your own.

    Higher in the mountains and larger than Lake Bled, deep blue Lake Bohinj is located in the Julian Alps about 16 miles southwest of Bled. Steep mountain slopes rise directly from parts of the shore of Lake Bohinj, and the 15th-century Gothic Church of St. John graces its eastern end. The valley that contains the lake also cradles a rural landscape dotted with farm villages.

    Return to the hotel for lunch on your own, followed by an afternoon to make your own discoveries. Gather for a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers this evening.

  • Today, you can discover more of the Bled area on your own, or join our optional half-day tour to visit Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle. This optional tour takes you across Slovenia's Karst region, where the eroded limestone landscapes gave rise to exotic landscapes and magnificent caves. At the country's most famous natural attraction, Postojna Cave, you'll journey by foot and underground train to view a seemingly endless display of stalagmites and stalactites, pools, and colorful limestone formations.

    After free time for lunch on your own, continue to Predjama Castle, a remarkable cliffside fortress complete with a labyrinth of secret underground passages and tunnels carved from solid bedrock. Originally built in the 13th century, the nearly impregnable fortress served as a stronghold for many bandits and robber barons throughout its fascinating history.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast today, ride to Ljubljana and tour this city of about 300,000 on the banks of the Ljubljanica River. Because much of the city was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1895, Slovenia's capital has a unique architectural style that has integrated surviving historic structures with more modern designs. The work of Joze Plecnik, a 20th-century architect and Ljubljana native, is particularly remarkable for the way it incorporates Roman, medieval, Baroque, and Habsburg elements. A number of buildings that survived the earthquake still stand in the historic part of town, Old Ljubljana. There are also many cafes here, and you may want to try one as you partake in today's lunch on your own.

    From Ljubljana, continue overland to Zagreb, Croatia, where you'll check into our hotel and join travelers arriving for the main trip.