Postojna caves, here we come. One more BIG attraction of Slovenia for me. I have always had a thing for caves, especially after missing the famed Waitomo glowworm caves of New Zealand, as my mum
was is terrified of caves. So, I was thrilled to see these caves.
The walk to the caves from the Postojna bus stop is as scenic as the drive itself and it was tough to rush to the caves instead of admiring the views. Ah! Why is there no time to stop and stare? Next time I plan a trip, I’m going to slot in extra time to move slowly. That’s what these small European cities do. They slow us down. Our busy lives, our multitasking natures, all come to a grinding halt. The calm and peace permeates into our being, making us forget the daily mayhem and the crazed people we have turned into.
Surrounded by tall mountains, the relatively large town of Postojna has pretty multicolored small buildings and a large church with a tall steeple. It looks more lived-in than does the town of Bled, that seems more like an accessory to the lake.
The area around the caves is very beautiful as well. The river gushes out of the cavern that forms the caves and drives a water-mill over which bridges and garden areas are developed. The backdrop is composed of picturesque mountains, buildings, another pretty church and an ugly hotel.
This is supposed to be the largest cave system of Europe. It is so large and deep that a little toy train takes you to the walking route within the caves. The toy train joyride is an essential part of the fun, alternately slow and fast, curving through narrow and short pathways, past rocks that jut out and make you feel that you are going to get decapitated. All along, on both sides, you can see the brilliant rock formations, lit up artistically with white, yellow, and the occasional brown lights. Stunning, simply stunning. And this is just the teaser. The best is yet to come.
Once we got off the train, there was a walking tour. Our guide Christina had a decent sense of humor, much-needed when you are trying to explain the complex genesis of the caves. Hubby dear certainly paid the maximum attention (pretty guide after all) and tried to explain to the kiddo, but I don’t think that she was really listening. She was simply trying to figure out a way to circumvent the “do not touch the drip rocks” rule. After all, the biggest temptation to touch the rocks came from their being the forbidden fruit.
The route through the caves climbed up and down, through narrow passages and huge caverns. There was a spot at the very top where we could look down and see the cavern at least 5 storeys tall with all sorts of rocks, stalactites and stalagmites, hanging from the ceilings and growing from the floor, in all sorts of shapes, sizes, patterns and colors. Adding to the mysticism were the different colored lights thrown onto parts of the rock formations. From that high vantage point, we could see the road we had climbed up and scores of people behind us, all looking as awestruck as us.
We walked past places where the water had seeped through the walls and the rocks and collected in little puddles on the floor. Water kept dripping from the ceiling too; at places, a few drops; at places, a little waterfall on our heads. Some parts had totally white limestone with pure dazzling white light thrown on them. Others had yellow,red, brown formations, further enhanced by yellow light projections. At places, algae had grown, adding to the riot of colors in this underground wonderland. Again, the camera (or possibly my poor skills) failed me, not able to capture the hugeness of this place or the variety of colors on display.
The entire cave system was dark. Only parts of the route were lit with soft lights. At one point, they had illuminated the narrow passage with bright light. All of a sudden, all the lights went off, even the dull ones illuminating the rocks. My pupils, contracted by the earlier brightness, just couldn’t adjust. The complete silence, the pitch-darkness, my being the only one there, all contributed to my fear. The worry about kiddo, who is petrified of the dark, and not knowing where she was, didn’t help matters. Thankfully, the lights came back on quickly and I rushed ahead to find the hubby and brat, giggling away as though they had encountered some great excitement. Their giggles made me wonder……..had they found some switch somewhere?
There were rock formations of all types and my imagination was roused no end. This is what I thought the formations resembled. But all you readers should exercise your own and guess what each looked like.
Nearly all the large rocks looked like dinosaurs. One could easily picture oneself in Jurassic Park fossil land. Or with a little more imagination, Jurassic Park waiting to be woken up from sleep.
You could imagine a rooster, a crocodile jaw, why, even a wide open shark jaw. You could imagine the slender fingers of a giant and a giantess meeting one another where the stalagmite would touch the stalactite. Where the two haven’t yet met, you could imagine the yearning as well.
We reached a huge open space, dominated by slender stalactites hanging from the ceiling, that they called the concert hall. Christina encouraged us to sing. I wanted to yodel, the echo effect was so brilliant. Christina told us that this was a popular venue for concerts and weddings.…….I thought it was perfect for St. Nicholas doomsday birthday party (again of Harry potter fame).
We got back in the train to exit the caves. Another magical ride ended with the roaring sound of water. I looked around, astonished, as there was no way for a waterfall to be here; when I realised that I was looking in the wrong place. We were at the top edge of a huge cavern with the river Pivka flowing through the bottom and gushing over a small watermill. The gigantic cavern was further enhancing the sound of the rushing water. As I clicked pic after pic, my entire train group moved ahead and a new lit up train rolled in. That sight of the yellow lit train sides, the huge cavern, and the sound of the roaring river created an atmosphere that I can never forget. And yet again, no camera can capture that brilliant moment.
Of course, one must move on, lest one waxes eloquent for too long. In my case, there was a roaring other than that of the river, hubby dear, in his characteristic rush to move on. How the times change! On our first Europe trip together, he was the laid back one and I was the jittery bunny rabbit wanting to see everything. Now, the roles were reversed. He was the pushing factor, making us move from place to place, and I wanted to relax and enjoy each place. Hmmmmmmmm, that’s life after marriage. The constant battle between the wands (Harry Potter reference again.)
Back out into the warmth and the sunshine, we felt a lot better. The 10 degrees temperature of the caves is too less for us tropical souls. Over a delicious lunch of hot pizza, chocolate milk and pasta, we debated the next course of action. The frozen brat wanted to head home, while the hubby and I wanted to enjoy the nice atmosphere outside the caves. Naturally, she was out-voted. We had a nice time in the pleasant picnic like area around the caves.
And so we spent a merry day at the Postojna caves. Back at Ljubljana, I went alone to see the city, while hubby and kid watched Slovenian television (TV addicts). Thus ended our 3 days in beautiful Slovenia. I would love to go back there again, this time for 15 days, with a rental car, and stay in Bohinj for sure.
I sure sLOVEnia!
P.S. A big thank you to Yogesh Shenoy for editing these pics and those of lake Bled as well and making them look as beautiful as I saw them. The pics with loads of noise are mine 🙂