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Day trip to eternity: Postojna, Slovenia

Just about everyone I know that went to school in Ex Yugoslavia, took a trip to Postojnska jama (Postojna Cave) at least once. Why I am the only person from that era who’s never been there is beyond me. Several years back billboards showed up in Selce (Croatia) where we summer, advertizing Postojnska jama and her inhabitant, the Human fish. Every time I passed that poster it would cross my mind how I’ve never been there and how weird that was, because I really wanted to see it, I just never bothered to make an effort and take that trip of about 100 km. Until this year.

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When this summer my son my son started to take notice of that weird creature, this so called Human fish and could not understand why it has legs if it is a fish, we decided it might be time we took that trip on the first bad weather day we get. Bad weather for a trip?

01 Postojna Cave 001 Proteus

Proteus or Human fish

Well yeah, I mean, remember you are going to this cave, it won’t be raining there, and it will take time to do that  tour. Advertized as a 90 minute tour that will take you through 5 km of cave landscape, you really should count on 2-3 hrs altogether just for the cave. I’d suggest to choose a non-English tour of the cave, if you can help it. Not because English ones are bad, they are just huge. All other languages had small groups of several people, the English one was about the bus size number of people so it took longer to do anything. On the other had, it made it easier for me to disappear in crowd when my son decided to fill his diaper in the middle of the Spaghetti Hall.

Spaghetti hall

Spaghetti hall

Tourist tours of the cave started long, long ago. Postojna cave was discovered by Luka Čeč in 1818 and caves were open to public only a year after. Railway was added to it in 1072, which enabled people to go deeper and discover the real beauty this cave is hiding inside. Passageways of stalactites and stalagmites in most unimaginable shapes and forms will leave you in awe and the size of the whole thing will show you once again what nature is capable of. What is interesting is, that Postojna got electricity as early as 1884, even before Ljubljana (Slovenia’s capital) thus becoming the third cave in the world with electric lighting (first two being the Kraushöhle, Austria  and Luray Caverns, USA). It was also home to the first underground post office in the world.

Before electricity (and prior to that gas) this rail used to be pushed by guides themselves, but today’s train ride is a light adrenalin trip. In some parts of the cave it goes quite fast, through passages where your head is almost touching the ceiling. Be sure to have your coats or jackets, swooshing by train in 9 degrees Celsius is not a game. If you cam in summer and your thickest clothes is your hoodie make sure you rent a coat on the entrance, otherwise you won’t be happy.

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This is the only photo I took inside the cave myself, from here on signs say it is strictly forbidden to take photos. Interestingly enough, everybody except from us were clicking away like maniacs, and none of the guides said a word.

”The cave ecosystem is very delicate and its balance can be disrupted merely by anyone taking photographs using a flash, which stimulates the growth of algae. Visitors must obey the regulations and guides’ instructions.” (Postojna Cave Tours)

Can you imagine that Postojna Cave, with it’s 20,570 m long karst cave system and as one of the largest cave systems in the worls is actually not the largest one in Slovenia. This small country has one larger cave system, carved by the same Pivka River as Postojna, alpine cave Migovec System is 24,900 m long and 975 m deep situated in northwestern Slovenia.

Postojna cave Curtain 04

Cave Curtain

Our bad day trip turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. Postojna Cave turned to be not just a cave, but a complex where you can easily spend your whole day and at the end of the day still be in a hurry and get out at the last call. When we got out of the cave we could have gone for a stroll in the beautifully groomed park, enjoy the sun and the greenery.

Park 1

Instead, we bought coffee and the irresistible, the perfect Prekmurska gibanica and sat down to relax the only way parents can: let your kids run wild in the play area and prey they don’t kick somebody because they decided the train is theirs.

Prekmurska

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Visit to Postojna Cave is not cheap, but most things are worth the money. I speak in plural because you will need to buy several tickets if you want to see the Cave, the Castle, Vivarium etc… Do make sure you check the Tickets page and research which package would work best for you. You can also get a discount for buying the tickets online and in advance, but be careful because tickets are valid for specific tours, so you need to know at what time you will be coming.  If you go there on the spur of the moment, inquire at the cash desk what would the best option for you be, because I must admit I was a bit confused. I thought Vivarium was part of the cave tour, but it is a separate thing, with a separate entrance and frankly, this is one thing that is not wort the money they ask for it. Maybe for a speleologist. Btw. speleology was born in Postojna.

However, there are things you can do for free there too, like hovering on the grass.

Postojna Park

Spodnji mlin Postojna

OR, visiting the the old mill where you will see some beautiful vintage flour making tools, but they will also show you how flour is made, from putting whole grain into the mill to ground flour. You can also buy that flour, organic and local.

Spodnji mlin Postojna

Postojna is a wonderful place with more than one miracle of nature and you can really put this place on your bucket list, because it is amazing…and I haven’t even told you the best thing, you will have to jump over here to read about the magnificent, haunted Predjama Castle!

About the author

Petra Tkalcec

Petra is a Co-founder and Executive Editor of EastOK Europe. She is a Croatian living in Budapest with her Serbian husband, two sons and an English bulldog.

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