After spending two wonderful days in Ljubljana, we made up our mind to visit the Postojna Caves instead of the Škocjan Caves. We did this even though the Škocjan caves have the prestigious blessing of UNESCO. Unfortunately we’ve heard that to get to the Škocjan caves you have to walk over 4 km from the train station, take a taxi, or rent a car. Not that we don’t like to walk, there have been days where we walk over 12 to 15 km but we did not want to walk with our backpacks [nowhere to leave them] and get soaked [it was raining that day]. Paying for transportation was out of our budget.
We wake up early [around 8 am … yes, to us that is early now … shame on us], get ready, go buy breakfast at a grocery store, and head to the bus station. The plan is to take a bus to Postojna, leave our bags at the bus station in Postojna, check out the caves, and then take a bus to Piran.
Once we arrive to Postojna, it’s raining and we head into the bus station terminal. The tour is at 12 pm and we arrive at 11:15 am, plenty of time to store the luggage and walk the kilometer to the caves. The station at 11:15 am is isolated except for one old lady, the ticket counter lady and a friend of hers. I go to the ticket counter to ask, in my best Slovenian (sarcastic tone), “Is there a locker for my bags” .. no English? Ok, maybe Italian? “Hay algun locker para mis mochilas?” not that either?? I point to our bags, I say caves, and I say “put away”. The guy says no no no, shows me a sign that says: Zapreti ob 14:30. I assume it says closes at 2:30 pm. I say no problem since the tour ends at 1:30 pm, so we hope.
We start walking to the caves and of course I forget the camera and my neck scarf (it’s a constant 11 degree C in the caves). I head back to the bus station, suffer again with my Slovenian to access my bags but success!
We get to the caves and after paying a hefty entrance fee ($60!), we wait for about 10 minutes until they open the doors and guide us to a small little train. “I feel like I’m in Disneyland” I tell Sara. We hop on the little train and without warning, it starts to move at a velocity faster than riding a bike. After a 100 m of motion, we’re inside beautiful limestone and Karst caves. The whole tour is about one hour and a half and it goes through 5 km of caves. Luckily, 2 of those kilometers are walking. We disembark the train and meet up with our English guide. Around 30 people surround the guy and we listen and learn about the caves.
The caves were only discovered in 1818 by local folks accidentally. Since then, there have been over 30 million visitors from all over the world. At first it sounds like a lot of people but we realize that Paris has over 40 million visitors A YEAR! We only saw 5 of the 20 km of the cave system. Apparently the stalagmites [the peaks that grow from the bottom] and stalactites [the peaks that grow from the top]. The growth of these peaks are one centimeter per 100 years!
Needless to say, the cave trip was well worth it. We finish the tour on the dot at 1:30 pm and head over to the bus station. We get our bags before they close and now we have to wait for 2.5 hours until our bus to Piran. Sara passes out sitting down and I entertain myself with iPhone Kindle app reading The Big Short.
The bus ride to Piran was uneventful but as soon as we get off the bus, we hear this guy ask the driver in English if we had arrived to Piran. I guess he was sleeping ’cause they had announced it. Sara and I introduce ourselves to our soon to be friend and we learn that he’s Duane from Dawson Creek, Canada [not related to the TV show].
He has been traveling for 2 years now. He had made a last minute decision to come to Piran from Ljubljana not knowing where he was going to stay. We also had no reservations but we had found a hostel online named Vals that was economical and had breakfast included.
We invite him to join us in the search for Vals.
Piran is a beautiful small medieval town on the coast of Slovenia. There are around 16k people living in a 46.6 sq km area and looks a lot like Venice without the canals and tourists. There are many alleys, two beautiful plazas and only one road with cars [but there were really no cars except for one maybe every 20 minutes].
The city felt like a ghost town at 9 pm and literally no one was in sight. I can only imagine this city in the middle of summer; it must be packed and annoying! Traveling in low season has allowed us to find ourselves in empty beautiful plazas, churches, viewpoints, or hotels. Our hotel, Vals, had no guests for the first night except for Duane and us! It was very nice because the place was shared bathrooms and we did not have to wait to use the bathroom, which I’m sure in the middle of high season there is a wait of like 1 hour.
We decide to go eat at a restaurant called Ivo, a restaurant near the water, and have fish soup, and seafood spaghetti. Delicious! During our dinner we learn a bit more about Duane’s life and how his long-time goal was to travel and see the world. It was exciting for us to meet someone that was doing something similar as us. Without surprise we had a lot in common: enjoy seeing new places, visiting friends around the world, learning new cultures, and sampling different foods.
The following two days we decide to visit the city and have our own unstructured walking tour. We see a church up on a hill and a fortress a bit higher and we decide to visit. Once up there, we enjoy low season perks by having the fortress all to ourselves and take amazing city shots. The rest of our stay there was uneventful but relaxing: more seafood, more walking around, and enjoying a beer with a beautiful coastal and city view. Our last dinner was with Duane again at another local restaurant. Sara and I shared a fish platter, including sea bass and one other type of fish, sardines, calamari, squid, and langostinos. Delicious 🙂
We left Piran wanting to stay a bit longer due to its tranquility, picturesque views, and cuisine. I’m sure we’ll visit again sometime in the future.