Friday, December 16, 2011

Škocjan Caves--May 23

We took off the next day for Slovenia. The border crossing was laughable. The Croatian and Slovenian guards were sitting in the same little box deal chatting until we drove up. The Croatian guard took one look at our passports, saw they were from the US and handed them to the Slovenian guy. Slovenian guy stamped Jon's passport after glancing at the picture and joking "close enough." Mine, he saw the (long expired) Hungarian residency visa and handed it back. I wanted the damn stamp. Oh well.

Per our usual, we took the um, scenic route to Piran. It is a beautiful town on Slovenia's tiny bit of sea. Unfortunately, between the time it took to park the car and walk the 2 miles to the town center, we didn't have much time left. We had a decent lunch at a little cafe (and my system went into shock from paying in Euro), but sadly, had to leave this bell-tower unclimbed (shucks).

We had to move along so quickly in order to make the last tour of the day for the Skocjan Caves about an hour away.

If you want to know more about them specifically, Wikipedia may prove useful. Basically though, there are two sets of major "tourist caves" in the Krast region of Slovenia. The others are apparently ever so slightly more stunning, but are significantly more expensive and half the time is spent on this train (think Disney World) that whisks you into the hills way too quickly to see anything. And these were on our way. Regardless, these are the ones we went to. Photos aren't allowed in the caves; despite things I'd read to the contrary, the guides really enforced this rule, so I didn't try to sneak any photos. Here are a few I've borrowed (beh. They're giant and I can't change the size right now.):

First off, if it's not obvious enough, that bridge was kind of terrifying. I mean, stability-wise and all, it was fine--I think it was rebuilt just a few years ago. The caverns though, were absolutely stunning. Along the parts near the river, you could see the paths carved into the wall from the tourists paths from the early 1900s. Which was cool...except for the parts where they would dip hundreds of feet down and back up in a matter of a 100 meters or so. Blarg. Near the end of the tour, we were allowed to take photos, so here's the mouth of the cave.
Way to live a stereotype, right?

We paid to go on an extra tour of the area around the caves, so after we exited the caves, we broke off from the English tour group and joined a teacher and some students from Bavaria who had also elected to go on this part of the trip. It was interesting to get to hike around and see some of the other smaller caves. It's almost not visible, but you kind of can see the lights reflecting back up from the river.

This one is technically considered a cave--its roof has just fallen in! As a result, the ecosystem is incredibly unique.

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