Sunday, September 29, 2013

Enchanting Eastern Europe - Ljubljana/Slovenia

September 14. Try to pronounce this foreign name without help is like a tongue twister. Just change the 'j' to a 'y' then it becomes easier. This morning we embarked on a visit to the Postojna Cave. Pronouncing it becomes easy too if you remember to spell it as Postoyna.

Postojna Cave is located in western Slovenia and is a 20km (12 mile) labyrinth of passages filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and rock formations. Postojna Cave is part of the Karst cave system, meaning a landscape shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite, and is the longest cave system in Slovenia. Postojna Cave is also home to the Proteus Anguinus, a unique creature with no eyes, which can grow up to 30cm (1ft) in length and feeds on snails and worms. At the end of the guided tour we were asked to gather around an acquarium in dimmed lighting to see if we can spot this salamander like 4 legged creature called olm or proteus. It is also occasionally called the "human fish" by locals because of its skin color, similar to that of white people. The proteus is adapted to a life of complete darkness in its underground habitat. The eyes are undeveloped, leaving it blind but its other senses, particularly those of smell and hearing, are acutely developed. It also lacks any pigmentation in its skin.

More info from http://jdombstravels.com/postojna-cave-slovenia/

The Postojna Cave is naturally lit with minimal artificial lights and has rock formations more stupendous and grander than those I saw in Guilin, China. Although second only to the Migovec Cave in the country it leaves visitors with a sense of awe just watching the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, some of which have actually joined up to form continuous pillars from the roof of the cave to the floors, a process that took thousands of years.

















Lunch away the city tour beckons us and elegant and statuesque local guide Alja wearing a fashionable hat, black spectacles and leather shoes greeted us in near perfect English. Easily the most popular local guide thus far, we gather around her not just to hear her but, mmm, just to be close I guess.

Slovenia is a very small country with a population of just over 2 million and a geographical area of just over 20,000 sq. km. By comparison Singapore has 5.3 million people living in a space of 710 sq. km. So Slovenia has plenty of room to populate its people. Ljubljana the capital has a population of about 280,000. Slovenia offers tourists a wide variety of natural and cultural amenities. Although tourist attraction area is huge the tourist market is however small. The government has not encouraged large-scale tourism industry as as result there is little environmental impact from it.

Our visit coincide with the EuroBasket 2013 championship hosted by Slovenia in Ljubljana. It is being held from 4 September until 22 September 2013 and we met basketballers in our walkabout, some of whom happily posed with us. The sightseeing ended with a funicular ride to the Ljubljana Castle for a panoramic view of the town before we descend for dinner in the town square.

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