Thursday, July 23.
Left Venice today, and headed for Slovenia, which we had passed through on our mad dash from Turkey to Spain in April. It is a picturesque country, with 60% of the land mass covered with forests and lots of mountains.
During our trip today we came across only our second accident on our travels. This unfortunately was fairly serious, with fatalities. We were held up for nearly an hour. Given the amount of traffic on the roads, and the speeds at which they travel, these type of accidents are rare.
Crossing the border from Italy into Slovenia we discovered that we needed a vignette, a sticker for the windscreen which allows you to drive in Slovenia. We stopped at a servo just inside the border and €15 later we were legal. We had coffee and snack while we were stopped and Su noticed a brochure advertising limestone caves and a cave castle at Postojna. This was on our planned route to the Capitol, Ljubljana, so we decided to stop there for a look, as it was only 26kms away.
Probably one of the smartest decisions we have made.
Arrived at the caves and found that they run a free bus to the castle about 15 mins away, and one was about to leave. We booked for the last cave tour at 6.00 pm and boarded the bus for the cave castle.
Predjama castle is actually built on a cliff face in the mouth of a huge cave. The castle was originally built in the 12th century, and over time was added to. Due to the fact that most of the castle was inside the cave and the enormous overhang from above, along with the height up the cliff face, it was virtually impregnable. The only part which was vulnerable was the toilet and this proved fatal in the 1600’s, for one resident, Lord Ezebar, the owner, who was crushed when raiders dropped stones from above. Talk about going out with a bang!
The castle is in two parts, that which can be seen from outside in the valley, and the castle inside the cave. The cave actually continues through the mountain and into the next valley, which enabled the inhabitants to be able to obtain fresh food during times of siege, unbeknown to the enemy. To this end they would throw fresh fruit to the attackers as the fruit from the next valley ripened before the fruit in this valley. They also utilised the water from the cave into collection points to fill wells inside the castle. This would have also confused the attackers who would regularly poison the stream which flowed under castle. A very interesting place.
Back on the bus and return to Postojna caves. Tour commenced at 6.00 and last 1.5 hours. Coats on as it was a constant nine degrees in the cave. Hopped on the cave train, 200 metres long, as the caves are 27kms long and it would take 15mins to travel to the main cathedral cave, 100 metres down and seven kilometres into the mountain.
The trip in was awesome, as we passed through many limestone structures thousands of years old. The cave system is split into three levels, 1,000,000, 2.500,000, and 4.500,000 years old.
Arriving at our stop, the guide, groups were divided by language, took us on a 1.5km walk through the caves highlighting different formations and explaining how it all works.
The different colours are from the minerals in the rock above. White structures are limestone, pink structures were a combination of limestone and ironstone. The size of some of them were amazing given that they ably grow 1mm per year and the spaghetti stallectites, which are hollow tubes, grow 1mm every 100 years.
The concert hall, which can seat 1,000 people, was at 100metres down, had a ceiling 100feet high and a six second echo. They have had orchestras play here but the cold plays havoc with their instruments, so now it is all vocal presentations.
All to soon our time was up and we had to catch the return train back to the surface. This time on a slightly different route to see more structures. Arrived back at the surface a she’d to Myrtle for the rest of the trip to Ljubljana, arriving at the camp ground at 9.00pm, still daylight. Set up and walked to restaurant, 50 metres away for dinner and rehydration, as it was still 35 degrees.
Spent today relaxing as yesterday was a bit of a slog, the heat which climbed to 39 degrees, 280kms on the road, time spent delayed by the accident, and visiting the castle and cave.