Out of Bled and through Slovenia’s beautiful countryside, up and down mountain switchbacks in a state-of-the-art coach that takes them like a Porsche Carerra (almost). On the way to Opatija, our first stop on the Adriatic we stop to visit the Postojna caves.
The huge cave complex is the second largest in Europe. We have to ride a specially build train over 3/4 of a mile into the heart of the cavern.
The stalactites and stalagmites are impressive and challenge your imagination at every turn of the trail.
A guide leads us up and down a steep walkway that extends over a mile. It’s wet and (somehow not) slippery.
It takes over an hour to get through and it’s a constant 48 degrees. This is not an ice wall though. The calcium carbonate (limestone) builds on itself at the rate of about 1 mm a year.
Besides the formations that conjure organ pipes, scenes from hell, chandeliers, etc., the cave also houses the amazing living creature called the “human-fish”, the olm or Proteus anguinus. It’s a long, skinny, pale-pink salamander-like creature that can grow to a foot long. It can live for 100 years and survive up to ten years without eating. Their heartbeat can reduce to 2 per minute. They’re celebrated as a kind of national mascot. Here’s a link to our train ride out:
Now we head off back into Croatia to our first look at the Adriatic from a quaint, fashionable Riviera town, Opatija.
The weather has turned beautiful; low 70s and sunny. Nice to walk along the beach, buy some sunscreen, chips and wine — and stop for a glass of wine with some fellow travelers before dinner. The setting and view is spectacular. The wine is good…and cheap — two big pours for less than $6. Time for dinner and then an early wake up for a full day excursion tomorrow of the Istria Penninsula. See you then.
[Interesting aside: As we’ve been traveling around we’ve noticed that there are no people of color – anywhere. Naively we asked our guide why that is. He reminded us that up until the 90’s these were communist countries. So, no immigrant communities had been or could be established. As the area did open up it was just not a place immigrant populations would be attracted to. Coming to a foreign place that had no community you could be comfortable with would not be first on your list. The only exception is the Chinese, who did establish a community by setting up small businesses].