(written by Nancy) (27 June, posted 28 June)
It was very quiet in the campground last night and we woke to the sounds of birds this morning after a nice cool night in the tent. We were still debating what to do today, lured by this nice campground to potentially stay another day. After debating for way too long we decided to go see the caves and then make our way to Skofja Loka where we had a Warmshowers host lined up. We packed up and said goodbye to our new German friends and headed over to the caves.
The Postojna caves are apparently Slovenia’s number 1 tourist attraction and they are pretty impressive. The tours are fairly scheduled, as during the summer they get up to 4,000 visitors per day to get through caves. The first part of the cave tour is done on a train that takes you down through 2 kilometers of the caves. It sounds a bit cheesy and perhaps it is, but the caves are actually quite big so it is a good way to see more of the cave system. The caves are impressive – you just have to remember to keep your head down and your arms in, as the train skims along the cave walls so it wouldn’t take much to give you a good wallop if you aren’t paying attention!
After a 2k train ride we got off the train to take a walk through some of the caverns in the cave system. The guide explained that the stalagmites and stalactites grow approximately 1cm every 100 years – hard to imagine when you see how large some of them are. The cave system is apparently over 3 million years old but was only first discovered in the 1800s sometime. No flash pictures are allowed in the cave system but Dave tried to take a few without flash – it’s hard to capture the scale of the caverns though.
It is quite chilly in the caves, apparently a steady 8C – which felt very cold compared to the hot temperatures up above. After a bit over an hour underground we were both ready to come back up for fresh air. We had a quick bite to eat and then finally hit the road for our ride to Skofja Loka. We had thought it was only about 65k or so, but a quick check on Google maps seemed to now show at least 80k – a bit longer than we hoped, especially leaving after 1pm on a hot sunny afternoon.
The ride actually turned out to be quite nice. Rather than take the main road that stayed down in a valley we took a side road just after the town of Logatec and up over a decent but very picturesque hill to Zirl. We rode by lots of farms and it was clearly the time for mowing and harvesting the grass. Almost all of the fields had someone out with tractors cutting or picking up the cut grass. Slovenia is known for its wooden drying racks – we saw many of them out in the fields though they were all empty. Lots of stops to take pictures of the stunning scenery, churches, clock towers, etc. along the way.
After a great ride we made our way into town to find our Warmshowers host. We had a bit of trouble finding the house, and as we wandered about a bit a kind lady riding by on a bike stopped to see if we needed help. I showed her the name of our host and the address and she said he was actually her husband’s cousin! She said it was difficult to find so she offered to ride us there – lucky day for us. We finally arrived at the home of Matej Hartman and met his wife Ziva and son Jure. Matej was actually out on a bike ride but came home shortly.
We got settled in and spent a great evening with the family, taking over older brother Jaka’s room as he is in Italy on vacation. Ziva made us a great meal and we sat and talked for several hours with Matej, learning a lot about Slovenia. A great end to a great day.