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Island Hopping

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image Church of the Assumption on the Island inBled, Slovenia Credit: Ed Boitano

Island Hopping to Slovenia, Puerto Rico, Belize, and Hawaii.

The secret to a successful marriage is for a husband to carry his bride up all 99 steps to the Church of the Assumption on the Island in Bled, Slovenia. If only someone would have told me about this Slovenian tradition 20 years ago. But after stepping off a "Pletna"—a gondola-like boat known only in Bled—and staring up the sharp vertical incline, I could see that this would be no easy task. Plus, the bride must remain silent for the entire 99-step journey. Perhaps it was better for me to have just left well enough alone.

Located in the Balkan nation of Slovenia (pop: 2,007,711) in Central Europe—once part of the former Yugoslavia and now a member of the European Union—Bled has long been a local tourist destination. Former Yugoslavian head of state Marshal Tito had a getaway constructed on the mainland, overlooking the lake and island.

Historians believe that the little alpine forested island probably had a special meaning during prehistoric times as a sanctuary. In the early Middle Ages it was an Old Slavic cult area, where 124 graves with skeletons were found.

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