Slovenia 23 July 2017
We left Ljubljana in the morning with our new plan. We had planned to go to Lake Bled and spend a few days, and also to visit Postojna Caves. But according to our inside information although Postojna is magnificent, it is also a bit like Disney Land. Anton recommended we try Krizna Jama caves and also told us all about the town of Kobarid and the surrounding area of Vipava ( the wine lands of Slovenia).
Along we tootle, making our way thru the little villages, avoiding the highways, so we can see the countryside. We stopped in the village before Krizna Jama, and bought a few provisions. I like the way they sell wine. One big barrel of locally made wine, and you bring your own container and pay per litre…my kind of shop.
We drove along a road following Tom Tom and seeing no sign of any caves. Then we turn the corner and bang there is a wooden shed and the entrance to a cave. We paid our entrance fee and waited for the next tour. Slovenia is “karst” country. The Karst Plateau is a limestone plateau which extends across Slovenia and northeastern Italy. This means lots of caves..ok so we get all geared up. Krizna Jama is the only unnelectrified tourist cave in Slovenia. So we get a miners light, and welly boots so we don’t slip. The temp in the cave is a constant 8º, so we put on a hoodie and jeans and we ready.
The tour was 1 hour long and fascinating. We were a small group of germans, English and inevitably Dutch of course, so the tour was in English. After a few hundred metres we made us switch off the miners lights and it was absolutely pitch pitch black. you could not even see a finger held up in front of your face. This cave also has the largest collection of bear bones ( not a pun) and we got to see a few examples. These bears were huge. Due to the lack of rain in the area the caves were very dry and this meant some of the rivers inside were not flowing, and also disappointingly although we got to row out onto the lake, the water was very cloudy and low so we did not experience the special light. This is when they hold a special torch under the water and it lights up the entire lake. Krizna Jama website might give you a better idea than our pics.
After this really interesting and very informative tour, we were on our way. Anton had given us a small family run camp site to head to and we arrived using our trusty Tom Tom. So guess what? NO ROOM at the inn. She looked at me and said no reservation? Oops now what? Pull to the side of the road and find another one. Ok so now we are driving in the Vipava area. This is wine country, a valley, with sub mediterranean climate. We found a camp site deep in the vineyards and at the end of a very narrow road. Chris was holding his breath. All settled we park, set up and within 15 min we are drinking our first glass of wine. Ok let me tell the truth I was drinking my first glass of wine, as the anxiety of thinking we might not find a place was too much. Chris is chilled, so what he says if we don’t have a place , we just wild camp. We did not stay long, just one night but a beautiful site which apparently offers wine tasting and a tasting menu. At €42 per person we decided not tonight (AATB) for those of you who have forgotten ALL ABOUT THE BOODGET!.
Kobarid, Slovenia July 2017
Next morning we drive off to Kobarid. Kobarid is a small town on the border of Italy and Slovenia.
Kobarid is known for the 1917 Battle of Caporetto, where the Italian retreat was documented by Ernest Hemingway in his novel A Farewell to Arms. They have a fantastic museum where you can watch a short documentary about this battle and the events around it.
We started out with a walk up the very steep hill to see the mausoleum, dedicated to the 7000 Italian soldiers who lost there lives in the war. A very steep walk with beautiful stations of the cross markers all the way up..the view from the top was stunning.
We decided we needed to see more of this village and what it had to offer so we liked for a place to stay. They had a lovely option on the banks of the River Sôca, so we made our way there and thank goodness they had a space. This is a camp site where you register and get a number but then you find any spot you like as there are no marked sites. We found a great one and set up. And then the rain came down!
As it was our monthiversary we decided dinner out was in order but first a celebratory drink! Jean-Pierre has gifted us a lovely bottle of Champagne which we popped open. Yummy.
Dinner was in a rustic restaurant. Beautiful almost like a room in a forest with driftwood beams and carvings. The waiter was great, spoke lovely English was full of stories and the food was delicious. A lovely day and a lovely way to celebrate.
The next morning we were up and ready to explore.
Walking shoes, rucksack , water and camera let’s go. We first went up to the Slap Kozjak , a waterfall in the forest just next to the Sôca River. A lot of people had the same idea so it’s pretty packed with people walking but still it’s enjoyable. After seeing the waterfall we decided to take one of the walks along the river, through some WW1 fortifications and into town. Looked easy enough. Well let’s just say it was a magnificent walk. It was also a very very steep climb out of the canyon. According to my health app on my phone we climbed 60 floors! The river is that beautiful milky turquoise colour we have got used to seeing. All due to the limestone. The walk went up thru the forest across a suspension bridge , up some very very steep steps thru trenches dug in WW1 and then at the top we came to an old Roman settlement which they are excavating. Then down the hills and thru another forest and we ended up on the top of hill where the mausoleum. This time down the hill thank goodness. 5 hours later , Lunch was a beer and a sausage in the local artisanal brewery.
We visited the museum and had a lovely time, but that stage we were so tired from the walk that we could barely concentrate. Back to the van for a rest. This was really one of our best days and I can highly recommend this camp site and the surroundings as there is so much to do. They even have a kind of hop on hop off bus for €3 that takes you from one scenic site to the other. You can do river rafting , paragliding , rock climbing and canyon hiking. They call the Sôca valley the Valley of Action.
Our next stop thru the Julian Alps. But first I had read about this bathing spot that was so beautiful and the water is apparently warm so we went on the opposite direction to find my place, NADIŽA RIVER! We parked in a car park. You pay for the day it’s not much and then you can use the facilities for the entire day. Lovely toilets, a bar restaurant. So organized and neat. We just time for a small walk and I wanted to skinny dip but Chris was not having it. So onwards we go….