Lake Bled (Blejsko jezero) is one of the main tourist attractions of Slovenia. The lake is relatively small (cca 1 hour of walk to get around it), but there is an even smaller island in it. The island can be reached with boats called "pletna", which are operated by human power only. On the island is the church of saint Mary. As stated in the brochure, given to the visitors, the legend says that the mourning young widow who lived at Bled castle gathered all her gold and silver and had a bell casted for the chapel on the island. When the bell was transported to the island, a tempest caused the boat to overturn. The boatmen drowned and the bell sank to the bottom of the lake. The young widow then entered a convent in Rome. After her death, the Pope donated a bell (casted in 1534, weight 178 kg) for the church on the island. The legend says that those who ring the bell and make a wish, will see their wish come true.
The most noticable and seen already from the lake shore is the freestanding 16th century church bell tower, 57 m high.
Europe is generally agreed to be the birthplace of western culture, including such legendary innovations as the democratic nation-state, football and tomato sauce.The word Europe comes from the Greek goddess Europa, who was kidnapped by Zeus and plunked down on the island of Crete. Europa gradually changed from referring to mainland Greece until it extended finally to include Norway and Russia.Don't be confused that Europe is called a continent without looking like an island, the way the other continents do. It's okay. The Ural mountains have steadily been there to divide Europe from Asia for the last 250 million years. Russia technically inhabits "Eurasia".Europe is presently uniting into one political and economic zone with a common currency called the Euro. The European Union originated in 1993 and is now composed of 27 member states. Its headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.Do not confuse the EU with the Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and dates to 1949. These two bodies share the same flag, national anthem, and mission of integrating Europe. The headquarters of the Council are located in Strasbourg, France, and it is most famous for its European Court of Human Rights. In spite of these two bodies, there is still no single Constitution or set of laws applying to all the countries of Europe. Debate rages over the role of the EU in regards to national sovereignty. As of January 2009, the Lisbon Treaty is the closest thing to a European Constitution, yet it has not been approved by all the EU states. Text by Steve Smith.