Å kocjanske Caves, Slovenia

Today I took a daytrip from Ljubljana to the Å kocjanske Caves, a series of caves about an hour and a half away by train. On the way there I was befriended by a couple pairs of Australians who let me tag along with them. Of all the people you meet travelling, Australians are always the nicest. Always very sociable, talkative and easygoing. Americans tend to be either idiot frat types (or the more grown-up equivalent) or quiet and distrustful of everyone (like me). And as long as we’re generalising, continental europeans are loud and unjustifiably opinionated, germans are just loud, and British people are nice. At least these are my findings, having taken a very scientific sample of the group at 1 hotel and 2 hostels so far on this trip. And to be fair, I only met 1 german guy, who was drunk. So maybe I’m a bit premature in my reporting, but if a blog isnt good for making sweeping, unjustified, offensive statements, what is it good for?

Anyway, the caves were really awesome. If you’re ever in the area, I definitely suggest you go to the Å kocjanske Caves. They’re a bit harder to get to than the competing Postojna Caves (which I didnt see), but supposedly a lot better. You have to take 40 minute hike through the countryside from the train station to get to them, but it’s worth it. The highlight is this enormous cavern, one of the largest in Europe, with the Reka River rushing through the gorge at the bottom (the force of the water is incredible). You cross this little bridge hundreds of feet above the water, which I guess until last year was a tiny suspension bridge, but now is made of concrete, which both disappointed and relieved me. The cavern is absolutely enormous, with really cool limestone formations everywhere. I love the bizarre alien organic shapes that stalactites and stalagmites can take. I think Ive seen better formations at some american caves, but just the sheer size of the caverns was the amazing part. The tour only went through a tiny fraction of the system too, which is still being actively explored by cavers.

The other highlight is a 4-foot pile of bat dung, which was actually pretty cool. There’s also these limestone cups, which I’d never heard of before, that form when water collects in pools. Its like a series of bowls stacked on top of each other, like some kinda cup fungus, that form these cascading waterfalls. Its hard to explain. I wasnt allowed to take pictures either, so my crappy description will need to suffice. And there was a chamber called the ‘Collapsing Cavern’, which wasnt particularly confidance-inspiring. Another highlight was the tourguide who conducted the tour in Slovene, German, Italian and English simultaneously.

So yeah, it was very cool. The site is UNESCO-protected, so hopefully it will be around a while.

And to answer Sarah’s question, Ljubljana is pronounces Loob-lee-ah-nah, or something like that. J is like a Y in Slovene.

I noticed tonight that there were a bunch of street kids in a gang hanging around outside my hostel. Its not in the greatest neighborhood, it being a former prison and all. I suppose the gangs should scare me, and I’m not claiming to be a tough guy in any way whatsoever. But the main thought I had was that they look like they should be in West Side Story. Or maybe Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ video. Slovenian gangs are adorable, trying so hard to look tough, in kinda an 80s fashion-challenged sort of way. Hope I didnt just jinx myself. Ill probably get mugged tomorrow or something. Maybe I can dance my way out of it..

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  1. Willie
    Apr 27th, 2005at3:50 am

    I found that the best way to get out trouble with Eastern European Michael Jackson gangs is to do the Pat dance. The only trouble is the line between Bad wannabes and just plain hoodlums is very slim, so you never really know what you are dealing with. I’d recommend carrying around a couple of tubes of modeling glue. Glue is pretty much universally the best way to make friends. Seriously, kids love the glue.


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