Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Slovenia Part II: Kranjska Gora, Postojna Caves, & Trieste (Italy)

Since we made Lake Bled our base for the rest of the weekend we used Saturday to go to Kranjska Gora for a day of skiing. Kranjska Gora is the more well-known ski resort in Slovenia, being used for the European Winter Championships this year and open air events other years. Not only can you downhill ski there, but you can also toboggan, snowshoe, and cross-country ski.

About 40 minutes after leaving our hotel in Bled, we arrived at the base of the mountain where parking seemed to be a huge problem at the resort. There was one big parking lot that had already filled up, with people double and even triple parking cars into their spots. All that was left was street parking in the town, which we drove around aimlessly looking for. We got pretty lucky after we squeezed into a spot right in front of a ski rental place. It ended up being closer to the base of the mountain than had we parked in the main parking lot so it was a good start to the day!

The skiing that we're accustomed to was different than the skiing at Kranjska Gora. For those that have skied in the States and in Europe, it was more akin to East Coast USA skiing rather than skiing in Colorado, Utah, or Zermatt, Switzerland. There weren't too many runs, it was icy in parts, and it was more crowded with people, especially beginners. Aside from that though, we enjoyed skiing here very much and got our legs ready for our big ski trip in February to Chamonix, France.

Kranjska Gora

The next day we woke up early, left Bled, and headed to Postojna. In Postojna there is a a cave network, similar to Lurray Caverns in Virginia, which has 21 kilometers of fantastic tunnels, halls, and passages. Remnants of rivers and pools of water can be seen from the indentation in the rocks. There are big chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites of many sizes and shapes, some of which have taken tens of thousands of years to form. Considering they grow only one centimeter every 100 years you can get an idea of how old this place really is. The caves were enchanting and each area that we saw offered a different view into this remarkable underground world. We felt like we took a journey to the center of the earth, where time is counted by the drops of water and the art of mother nature is on display.

The entrance, taken from Postojna Caves
The Red Hall, taken from Postojna Caves

To start we took a ride in a miniature train for two kilometers through small archways, large halls, and tiny passageways. After the train ride, we were led through different areas of the caves, each with their own unique name. The Hall of Tubes (aka Spaghetti Hall) was so named because of the white, needle-thin tubes hanging from the ceiling. The Concert Hall holds events and concerts a few times a year and can accommodate several thousand people. The White Hall is named because all of the stalactites are extremely white from pure limestone. The whole experience was magnificent and it gave us a magical view of the underground world of the Postojna Caves.

The Hall of Tubes or Spaghetti Hall, taken from Postojna Caves

The White Hall, taken from  Postojna Caves

After our time in the caves we continued towards the Italian border to Trieste. Trieste is an interesting city - since it's right on the border of Slovenia and not far from Austria, it is a mish-mash of all three countries combined; Viennese style cafes on the streets, the friendliness of the Slovenian people, and the dreaded shut down of everything in Italy from 1 - 4pm (especially on a Sunday). Lying on the Adriatic Sea, it was a key port during the Austro-Hungarian empire before it was added as an Italian territory in 1918.

After we had lunch we walked down some streets, passing people sitting outside drinking their coffees and walking past families on an afternoon outing. We came to Piazza dell'Unita d'Italia, which is a big open square looking out to the sea. Large Austrian type buildings line the piazza, while children with their dogs play in the center. It seemed to be the focal point of the city... the eyes to the sea!

City Hall

We also passed a few churches on our walk:

San Nicoli dei Greci 

Santa Maria Maggiore
We left Trieste after a few hours and took a little detour to see a few more towns on the drive back to Venice. We stopped in Grado, Aquileia, and Palmanova. There wasn't too much going on in Grado (a beach town) and Aquileia so our visits there were very short. Palmanova is a citadel, and is famous for its fortress city plan in the shape of a star. Inside the walls the streets form a octagon with the center of it being a large piazza. Needless to say, the layout of this city is very different from other cities we've seen.

Large piazza


A wooden reindeer exhibition 

Me, hanging out in the piazza
A picture of what Palmanova looks from above.
We then drove to Venice to return the car and catch our flight. We had such an enjoyable time in Slovenia and during our afternoon in northeastern Italy. Slovenia isn't a country that was originally on our list of places to go to while living here, but we're so glad that we researched it and decided it was worth a visit. The charm of Lake Bled, the relaxed atmosphere of the capital city of Ljubljana, and the various types of terrain and natural beauty make Slovenia a terrific place to visit and unwind!


  1. I've always been impressed with people who can ski, like you and Jon! (Dad and I actually came close to going skiing many years ago, but we decided not to go because it started snowing and we didn't want to go outside!) Anyway, since you guys are excellent skiers, this beautiful place seemed perfect to have some fun! For some reason, and I don't know why, I was actually very surprised and fascinated to see the pics of the caverns! I guess I'm so used to seeing pics of exquisite churches, stately buildings, monuments and all the beautiful architecture in Europe, it really took me by surprise when I saw the caverns! (and they definitely remind me of Luray Caverns!) And talking about stately and elegant buildings, you could definitely tell that there is an Austrian influence by looking at the pics of the buildings! And the wooden reindeer exhibition is wonderful! (I love stuff like that!) Very imaginative and fun! The best part that I liked in your travels to Slovenia is Lake Bled! I love that name! (and I think you know why!) Like always, a fantastic blog! Can't wait for the next one!!

  2. I enjoyed reading your two posts about Slovenia. I am glad you loved this little gem of a country. I recommend next time (if there is going to be a next time) you also visit one of the country's wine regions (Goriška brda region is close to Italian border). Also river Soča valley is breathtaking and there is loads of stuff to do and see in those parts.

    Have fun and keep blogging about it.

    1. Thank you Marko for the suggestions! We appreciate the different ideas of where to go during our next visit to Slovenia - they sound like great places to check out!