October 6, 2015:
This morning, we left the cozy seaside town of Opatija in Croatia to travel into Slovenia; specifically, to the capital, Ljubljana. However, along the way, we had a stop to see the Postojna caves, which are Slovenia’s answer to the Carlsbad caverns. The caves are a twelve-mile-long underground labyrinth in eastern Slovenia that is considered one of the finest karst limestone formations in the world. On your train ride through the cave, you can see a diverse collection of tunnels, sculpted galleries, waterfalls, stalactites and stalagmites, chambers, and cave-dwelling olms—sightless, snake-like amphibians that can only be seen here. Frankly, we found the latter to be completely gross, as they look like really big translucent eyeless worms with tiny legs. Yuck! The good people at Postonje have apparently pinned all their marketing hopes on this little sucker, because you can’t escape countless replicas of them, large and small (including many stuffed animal versions) in the many gift shops outside the entrance to the caves.
I have never seen the Carlsbad Caverns, but I have to say; these Postojna caverns are totally amazing! There were soaring gallery after gallery filled with spectacular rock formations. The limestone came in numerous different colors and shapes. The ones I found most awesome were those that had shaped into what looked like rippling curtains of stone. You could almost imagine some prehistoric wind gently blowing through the caves to forms such ethereal shapes. We spent about 2 hours in the caves marveling at all the different structures, followed by a really good lunch at the hotel there.
Then it was off to the capital. This mostly was a long day of driving, and with it raining the whole time, most of our tour slept through the afternoon. I, however, worked on editing photos for you, dear readers!
Upon arrival in Ljubljana, we checked into the Grand Hotel Union, and then went on a walking tour of the town; Slovenia’s charming capital of Ljubljana, a thriving university town. The walking tour of Ljubljana highlighted the quaint bridges spanning the gently flowing Ljubljanica River, and the narrow streets of the café-lined Old Town. It was still raining when we arrived, but hopefully, you can see how charming the town is.
Fortunately, the current mayor had the foresight to convert many of the streets in the city center to pedestrian walkways, so we found it to be a very walkable city. There are tons of restaurants and bars along the river, which looks like a prettier Amsterdam, and even in this weather, they were doing a thriving business. One of the best things about the arrival of fall, though, was the presence of numerous kiosks selling roasted chestnuts. Most of the city’s buildings, parks, and monuments (and all of the bridges spanning the city center) were designed by innovative local architect Joze Plecnik. We stopped at the church of St. Nicholas, which has really striking brass doors decorated with beautiful reliefs.
Tomorrow, we drive out to Lake Bled.