From the moment my tour guide, Peter, introduced himself, I knew it was going to be a fun day. I’d arrived in Ljubljana, the charming capital of Slovenia, the day before this trip, eager to learn as much as possible about this small but vibrant country. I climbed into a comfortable, air-conditioned van and introduced myself to the other seven participants on the Slovenian Coast and Karst Region Day Trip from Ljubljana.
As we drove out of Ljubljana, Peter immediately began to point out interesting landmarks and sites, such as the Orthodox Church, the American and Russian embassies and scenic Tivoli Park. He entertained us with anecdotes about Ljubljana, such as how the city lies in a basin that was once a lake; when the lake dried up, it became a swamp. That helps explain the heat and humidity today.
We went to three major destinations on the tour: Predjama Castle, the famous Skocjan Caves and the coastal town of Piran. Predjama, the first stop, was built on a cliffside during the Middle Ages. The imposing, incredible architectural feat is one of the must-see sites in Slovenia. Peter regaled us with legends from the castle’s history, including one sordid story of a king under siege who managed to fend off intruders for over a year until he exposed himself one day by using the outdoor toilet.
As we headed to our next destination, Peter made a quick detour to show us the Lipica horses. These prized show horses are bred more for their looks than working, racing or even riding, and are often given as diplomatic gifts. The horses are born black and turn completely white by the time they are fully grown. Peter may have made a comment that a Michael Jackson joke was buried somewhere in there.
Our next stop was the Skocjan Caves. The limestone that makes up these caves is 60-90 million years old while the cave system itself is 2-3 million years old. The paths that we took to explore the caves are 90 meters below the surface, and the enormous stalagmites and stalactites, combined with a flowing underground lake, creates an otherworldly experience. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures, but it’s a memory that will long be engraved in my memory.
After emerging from the darkness of the caves, we walked a quick five minutes to a local pansion, or small guesthouse, for a snack. We tasted local wine and prosciutto, paired with cheeses, olives and fresh bread. It was the perfect way to whet our palate and satiate us until we reached Piran, where we would have free time for lunch and exploration.
Piran is a little piece of paradise. It’s located on Slovenia’s strip of coast. It’s small enough to explore in a few hours and chock-full of places to jump into the ocean to cool off. I enjoyed a quick lunch on my own before spending some time sunbathing. Before heading back to meet the group, I walked up to the Church of St. George, located up a hill. The spot offers incredible views of the city and ocean spreading out for as far as the eye can see. From here, you can see Italy on one side and Piran and Croatia on the other.
— Contributed by Cyndi Waite