Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In This World

(Sorry this took so long to come out, it turned out longer than I expected.)

On to Slovenia!

Well, almost. The train was delayed for nearly 2 hours, so Bojan, Anja and I waited at a cafe for a while before going back to the station to see me off. According to the ticket guy, it's not a good idea to sleep on the train, as there are no police and often people's bags get stolen. Five minutes later, I'd managed to arrange it so one bag was under my legs, and the other was well hidden under the seat which could only be reached by opening the door, which one of my feet was touching. Again, my ability to sleep almost anywhere came to my rescue, and it didn't take me long to doze off.

After a reasonable sleep, though frequently interrupted by passport and ticket checks, I arrived in Ljubljana (the capital of Slovenia, pronounced something like 'looblana'). There I met Titus (aka CornDude), and had a quick look around Ljubljana. It's a fairly small city, with a number of rivers and parks, making it very pleasant to walk around. After a quick look around, we made our way towards Postojna, a massive cave a fair distance from Ljubljana. Fortunately, the speed limit on highways is 140, and we made it just in time for the guided tour (the only way you're allowed in). It's an incredible place, a bit like Lake Cave and Jewel Cave down below Perth.

Stalagmite

Some of the incredible rock formations

Probably the most fascinating thing in this cave however, was the 'human fish', or 'Olm' (according to wikipedia). It has no eyes, four legs, lungs, gills, is very pale, lives for 3 years without food (up to 10 in extreme cases), and is about 30cm long. They keep a few in an open tank in the cave, but the light made it very difficult to get reasonable photos of them (which is also why there aren't many cave photos here), so here's one I stole from Wikipedia.

'Human Fish'

Leaving Postojna, we headed back through the beautiful Slovenian countryside towards Poljane (Pol-yan-ay), the village where Titus lives. It was getting late, so we went out to the town of Skofjo Loko for a meal of...something. Again, I can't remember what it was called, but it was very good. We then wandered around the town, and up to the castle, and eventually decided to check out noises coming from a community centre.

Titus summed it up best when he walked in, looked around, and mumbled 'what the hell....?'. We'd walked into a room full of grown men and women dressed in Medieval clothing, wielding swords, eating, drinking, and dancing, all lead by a man who looked like Santa in disguise.

These kids saw through the ruse
I had to get a photo with these guys.
Titus is the guy on the right.

The following day, we drove across what looked like almost half of Slovenia on the map, to a national park I can't remember the name of. There were a few things there to see, namely Dante's Cave, Bear Head, and Dante's bridge, none of which Titus had seen, so neither of us knew what to expect. After a walk through a forest, and up a large hill, we found Dante's Caves. According to the tourist information, it's not explorable without proper caving equipment and a guide. I had neither, however I did have a phone with a built-in torch, and a strong desire to explore small dark places. When I say dark, I mean it. About 100 metres in, it was absolutely black without my torch. It was mostly uphill, and there was a trickle of water running down the middle and out the entrance, making it quite slippery going. The fact that it was less than 2 metres wide, and about one metre high so I was almost crawling for a lot of it didn't make it any easier either. I estimate I went about 400 metres in, before I came up against a wall about 2 metres high in a small cavern and I decided to go back for safety. I wanted to try and climb it, but it was slippery and a bit too risky without a backup plan or guide. According to the sign outside, it was about another kilometer further to the end.

Dante's cave

Just some of the amazing scenery
Pressing on through more forest, we found the bear's head. In itself it wasn't that spectacular, but the scenery of the general area was well worth the walk. The bear's head itself is a rock wedged into a crevasse over a river, shaped something like the head of a bear.

Dante's bridge
My attempt at an artistic photo

Heading back to Ljubljana, we walked up an enormous hill to the Ljubljana castle overlooking the city, before heading back towards the train station. A brief detour to a hotel and surrounding area entirely dedicated to alternative art was well worth it, and very interesting to walk through, before I got on the train to leave for Croatia.

The symbol of Ljubljana
Aforementioned art

And again

I'm not entirely sure what these are meant to be, but they were certainly eerie when lit like that

(Next: Croatia!)

8 comments:

Nils (NLO) said...

Hey! We got those creatures here too. The 'human fish' I mean (čovječja ribica). And, yeah - They ARE pretty special (special enough to have half a chapter in 'nature' about them :S). The caves and underground rivers where they live are kinda far away from where *I* live though (more inland). :P
:-)

elle said...

Ah. . Glad u survived Dante's Cave without a guide n special equipment. . Cyas

rosemarie said...

Oh pity! If you'd had a guide, maybe his name would've been Virgil!

Anyone?


Anyone?

Anonymous said...

ha ha

Mephistopheles said...

lasciate ogne speranza voi ch'intrate indeed. How forbodingly awesome.

I bet the guides there must get that joke so often, like, if they even glimpse the word virgil their teeth grit. :D

Nice photos you're taking by the way, beautiful wierd stuff.

The Jenius said...

*groan*

By the way, went to Funcom, met Ragnar, and it was incredible. Advice though - do NOT come to Norway. Not unless you win lotto, at any rate. Beautiful city, but to give you an idea of the costs involved, it costs about 225AU for a taxi ride from the airport to the hotel.

NLO (nils) said...

"it costs about 225AU for a taxi ride from the airport to the hotel"
:D :D :D
...Can't wait to move back. :P

Motorcycle Jackets said...

This cave journey is just like film 'CAVE' keep it up.......!
Motorcycle Jackets