Someday when I get around I going back through our pre-blog, pre-international travel days to write about the adventures we have had road tripping in the US it will become apparent that we love caves. I have an entire photo album on Facebook called “We ❤ Caves”. In one summer alone we visited four major US cave systems and went on almost a dozen cave tours. So, when we were unable to visit the caves in Slovenia (which are possibly one of the biggest tourist draws to this tiny country) we were pretty bummed. Luckily for me (sorry Logan) I am back in Slovenia and this time I will not be missing the opportunity to head underground.
There are two major caves that tourists can visit in Slovenia, Postojna and Skocjan, with Postojna being by far the more popular and touristy one. Due to our aversion to crowds, we chose Skocjan. This decision was made even easier when we found out that Skocjan is one of only four cave systems in the world that is a UNESCO site. We still had the rental car, so we drove farther down the valley to the kasrt region of Slovenia where the caves are located. Interestingly, kasrt is a Slovenian (well Germanic technically) word describing the type of rock that makes up the caves and is now used by geologists all over the world to describe this type of rock. The drive down was quick and uneventful and the mountains we had been enjoying gave way to rolling hills and fields.
When we arrived we found out that they had added a new tour and that the cost to do both tours was just slightly more than only doing one, so of course we decided to book two chances to get inside the cave! Since we decided to go on both tours our original planning did not quite work out, so with two hours to kill before it was time to descend underground, we headed to the short but pretty Slovenian coast. This was my mom’s first introduction to the Adriatic that I fell in love with last year and I do not think she was disappointed.
After a short pizza and beer break on the coast it was time to head back to Skocjan and do our tours. Unfortunately I have no pictures of said tours, as photography was not allowed, but the cave was really beautiful. There are lots of rock formations (stalactites, cave bacon, cave popcorn etc.) and there are rooms in the caves that are some of the biggest I have ever seen. The “new” tour was okay. There was nothing too special to see, and I am glad we paid only a few dollars for it, but it was pretty cool to see the river flowing through the ever-growing cave. The old “original” tour has about ten times as many people on it and was not quite as informative as other cave tours I have been on, but it was nice and long and we spend about 2 hours inside the cave.
Since Slovenia is such a tiny country, you are never more than a couple hours from the capital city, Ljubljana, which was our next, and final Slovenian destination. We arrived just in time to buy some groceries, cook a delicious dinner and continue working our way through Gilmore Girls.
The next morning we returned our rental car and embarked on our first car-less day of the trip. We began the day with delicious gelato (despite it being only 9 am, everyone seemed to be walking around licking cones, so we had to join!) and a free walking tour of Ljubljana. Ironically, we had the same guide that Logan and I had last year, so most of the information was not new to me, but my mom enjoyed learning about all the different phases in Slovenian history, particularly its time under communist rule. The tour ended at lunchtime and we indulged in some sausage with mustard before heading up the funicular to see the view from the castle. You can see everything in Ljubljana and beyond from the top of the hill (which you can walk up for free, versus paying for the ride like we did). We decided not to go in the castle, as we had head from multiple sources that it was underwhelming.
Back down the hill we decided to head back to our Airbnb for some down time and re-packing in preparation for only using public transport from here on out. On the way we stumbled on Metelkova Mesto, which is an “alternative culture community” (according to my quick Google search) with beautiful and interesting art covering the half a dozen or so buildings within its walls. There is a hostel there and some bars, and it is apparently THE PLACE to hang out at night if you are into the bar scene. Mom and I opted to walk around and take in the beautiful art, before heading back for a calm night free of debauchery.
Next we are off to what may be my favorite country in the world (so far), CROATIA!