Slovenia, not Slovakia or Slavonia (but this last one is much less known) is trendy, really trendy. They’re on TV, on travel agencies advertisements, they’re on every blog (including this one), Lonely Planet chose them as one of the super-cool destination for 2014, they’re on travel shows… They’re on top of it, and it’s natural.
We say in spanish that they have not only the 3 Bs: bueno, bonito y barato (good, beautiful and cheap), they’re close, and accesible, and it’s a year-round destination, and confortable, and different, and, and, and… There are beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers, adventure, there’s a Mediterranean flow all over, eat well, drink better… What else can you ask for?
I visited it in some December years ago, from Munich, when I was really tired of its cold (I was actually living there and it was too much for a regular Spanish guy), and I decided that it was the perfect time to aim South. And I must say that it was the absolute right choice, nobody knew about it and people looked at me kind of weird just for proposing it… but in the end, everybody happy.
It’s quick to get there from several airports in Center Europe, because Ljubljana airport connections are, let’s say, not really satisfactory. And once there, speechless everywhere. About Lake Bled (the one in the cover picture) and Vintgar gorge I will definitely write in the future, and maybe about the castle-cave in Predjama, the (almost Italian) coast in Piran and something about Ljubljana, although I did not really visit it properly to write about. Or about the northern rivers, the Julian Alps, where I will for sure come back soon…
But today I’ll stick to the caves. Maybe because I always wanted to be a Geologist (and I am NOT), or because I have an undiagnosed agoraphobia, never know, but in Slovenia I discovered two of the most wonderful places I have ever visited.
The first of them was the Postojna cave, although I have to admit that, as soon as we arrived to the entrance, I got a huge slump:
This is the complete opposite thing of what I expected of one of the largest caves in Europe. I mean, I completely understand that it has to be well prepared for tourists and that advanced speleology knowledge is not required (Thank Goodness!), but that shocked me as a sort of a horrible underground-geology-theme-park. And you just walk by the door and it’s more than 20€ to get in… in a country wherre you can sleep for less than half of it… and I read that the visit to the cave goes on riding a little electric train…
… I was about to collapse, and almost deciding that I was not going to get in. Thank God for letting me in.
But just when we started riding the train, the fun got increaing. It looks like a small toy (and it is), but it goes fast, and that is real fun. And after a while, which would’ve taken couple hours to complete by foot, we arrived to the destination, getting to know that the vistit was not actually going to by by train, but it was de mean to get to the visit. Goal.
And the train leaves you here:
And starting then, everything changes. You find yourself in a long visit; over two hours in incrediblehalls, more and more awesome, as if you were walking by another planet… uneasy to write it by words.
I was f***ing excited, it couldn’t be any other way.
And without thinking it twice, as if we had have peanuts, next morning we decided it was time to visit the other big Slovenian cave: Škocjanske Jame.
The entrance to this one is more “real”: after paying the fee in a visitor center, there’s a guy that takes you about half and hour walking in the middle of a meadow, and you can feel that the terrain starts to get tighter and tighter, and then you’re in a valley, and from the valley to a gorge, and from the gorge to a cave. And there you are.
This one is a really different cave than Postojna; you won’t find the impressive rock formations forged during the last trillion years (blind guess), it is the huge (really huge) size of the galleries, awesome domes, most of them sculpted by a wondeful underground river.
And finding myself literally inside a mountain, this way… it really drove me crazy. You keep walking, and then you reach Khazad-Dum bridge:
And more and more halls, awesome halls, until you arrive to the exit and you feel the same you felt the day before, just a little bit different.
This was all I have to write about this caves.
My visit to Slovenia lasted about 4 days in 2008 Winter and I really think that that’s the perfect amount of time, for that season, to visit this small Mediterranean country, because I came back absolutely delighted. Anyway, I still have on my checklist to go back and spend a little bit more time over there; maybe a long week in Summer, to enjoy the Alps and some of the outdoor activities that are all over offered.
Since then, I recommend it to everybody, and I will keep on doing it until I find a similar place, that confortable, and that surprising. Suggestions are welcome.
Hasta la vista, babies!