May 20-21, 2002
When I asked Ivan what was typical Slovene, he thought for a moment and said, "It is that we are small on the map, yet it takes more than a day to make it from one end of the country to another." I'll admit I was expecting a more flamboyant response from this nationalist, though he was right on his assessment of the public transportation and in Croatia, it was even worse.
When I said, "I'm going to see the caves."
"Ah, you should see this, yes, yes," Ivan replied.
But I did some research and thought that hiking and caves were wonderfully special to Slovenia. They've Julian Alps, which every one told me to visit; however, I've been to the Alps and they are wonderful. I've also done some good hiking that I'd love to do again, but I rarely get to go in a real cave, despite the fact that I carry a pack of matches to be used for when I do find an entrance. I have been able to explore all the way until I've run out of matches on more than one occasion too!
The cave here in Postojna is different thought. It was discovered by accident less than 200 years ago, though by the size of the stalactites, it's over 20 million years old. Tours have run through it for 175 years on a tiny train and there's a part to walk through that was discovered 111 years ago plus a lot more not open to visitors. Set up for tourists? You bet, but a wonderful experience different than the Alps for sure (though if you only get to pick one in your lifetime, make it the mountains). But let me tell you about it anyway. Actually there's not much to say except it was great, natural splendor that takes 30 thousand years to make a strand the size of a spaghetti and there was a room full of them. Also this home to a very unique newt only found in Slovenia that is completely blind, all albino and can live without food for 6 months!
Since the fast walking speed of the train got me here late afternoon, I spent the night. The woman in the house is wants me to test the food she is making for the guests tomorrow: a small pastry and a spread made from honey. It was good, though I probably over-acted the yummy sounds. She spoke not a word of English and so spoke to me in German & Slovene words. I stopped my yummy sounds and walked two fingers across the table and pointed to the hill where I had walked, then the direction I would walk next. She mentioned a bicycle (I think), but I signalled walking would be fine for me (I thinků must be careful with hand gestures involving fingers).
Since the first bus never turned up the next day, I left by train again after a stroll of the town, that doesn't offer much. The cinema or theater runs maybe once a weekend. Every one here who spends more than a day seems to have a car and head 9km out to the castle with a cave underneath - great secret passages I'm sure.