Up early so we could get the car by 8 a.m.. The City Hotel has a huge buffet selection for breakfast so we (me anyway) bulked up and made up a good lunch as well. Europcar was a little late with the car but we were able to get away close to 9 a.m. Chris drove and Al was navigator, with help from a balky gps unit, and we found our way out of the city and to Škocjan, about 80 kms down the A1, in plenty of time for an 11 a.m. tour.
The Škocjan Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are absolutely jaw-dropping in their beauty. The word “awesome” is overused but certainly applies to these caves. We were not allowed to take pictures while in the caves, likely due to the fact that constant flashes from the crowd would lessen the experience of what we were seeing. (The tour guide actually gave one guy hell when he spied his phone turned on – “What are you doing with that phone? There is no reception down here! Turn it off.”). The blackness offset by the subtle path lighting is magical. This cave system is not as long as the more famous, and far more tourist oriented Postojna Caves, but they are bigger in terms of volume. It is not just the beauty of the stalagmites, stalactites and other dripstone formations – the caves are VAST! At one point in the walk we crossed a bridge suspended 45 metres above the Reka River, the underground watercourse that flows through the caves, and there were at least another 50 metres over our head! There were times during the walk, with the path lighting fading deep into the blackness, that I expected to hear hammering and see Orcs labouring away in the depths. I cannot recommend a visit to these caves highly enough.
After leaving the caves, we drove around the area a bit and stopped in the small town of Divaca for a picnic lunch before heading on to Lipica, the home of the famous Lipizzaner horses. The Lipica Stud Farm is now a government run facility but still breeds and trains the horses for sale and show. Our tour included some of the stables, the museum and pastures. The young horses are allowed to stay with their mothers for 3.5 years, frolicking in the pastures, before beginning training. The few who turn out to be exceptional join the famous show. The rest are used for breeding, pulling carriages on the farm, rider training or sold. These horses have a pretty good life!
Our drive back into Ljubljana was disrupted by barriers, still set up for the pre-marathon fun run earlier in the day, blocking off our street. We drove around a bit until the barriers were removed but there was no parking anywhere close to the hotel. Except for a spot in a construction zone 100 feet from our front door. We removed the barrier blocking the spot, drove the car in and put the barrier back. Problem solved! As luck would have it, just then the car in front of ours drove off. So…move the barrier, drive into the vacated spot, put the barrier back and…we were now parked legally!
Our nightly game of Wizard, this time played in a common area near our rooms, was disrupted by another guest who complained that she had to get up early and that we were making too much noise. At 10 p.m.? Really? And we thought that we were being quiet. Some people are just too sensitive. Yes, there was wine involved.