Postojna Cave – A Journey to the Centre of the Earth (July 2012)

This summer, we made our way from Vienna to the Croatian part of the Istrian peninsula through Slovenia, so that we could visit Postojna Cave, one of the most beautiful caves in this part of Europe. It’s been about twenty years since I’ve last visited it, but my hubby and children have never been there, so I’ve decided we should go.

I was really surprised as I saw all the changes; everything’s very up to date and impeccably groomed, there’s a large parking space, several cafes and restaurants, souvenir shops and other places you’d normally expect to find at a tourist attraction site.

Before we managed to buy the tickets, we were approached by a young hostess who tried to persuade us to buy some extra tickets, for there is merely a teeny-tiny additional cost for the butterfly exhibition and another teeny-tiny additional cost for something else, and another one for yet something else…

So, we ended up paying our admission fee and first visiting the butterfly exhibition and then Vivarium Proteus before going to the cave itself. It was quite interesting, especially for the girls, who were six and eight at the time, and very interested in the world around them.

The tours take place according to the schedule, so that you have to buy a ticket for a specific tour and you’re not allowed to stay in the cave longer than an hour. I can still remember the good old times when it was possible to stay in the cave for as long as you liked. Nowadays, they give you earphones with a recorded guide and you’re supposed to press a number when you come to the marked point; twenty years ago, there was a nice and witty elderly gentleman who guided the tours and enjoyed telling many interesting and funny stories. Now, it’s two guys escorting the group; one ahead of the group and the other in the rear, collecting all the slowly, the curious and the astray. I have to admit, I felt a sort of nostalgia for the good old days; and, mind you, I’m not that old.

The tour of the cave starts in a small train…

It is very fast, almost too fast for us to be able to see properly what the nice recorded lady had to say about the cave. However, after the train ride, there was also a hike in the cave, so there was enough time to take a proper look at everything.

There are many interesting things in the cave, the world’s oldest underground post-office (currently 112 years old) being one of them. You can buy your postcards and stamps down there and if you’re quick enough to write them there and then, you can post them from the cave and they will get stamped with a special underground stamp.

What is also special about this cave is that it is one of the rare places where olm (Lat. Proteus anguinus), a blind amphibian, lives (the other places being in Croatia and Hercegovina). Since it is not allowed to take photos with flash of these sensitive creatures I cannot show you what they look like, so if you’d like to see them, you can google them.
 

And, last but not least, there are some beautiful sights of the unique underground landscape.

The girls were impressed, although they were cold at the end. The cave temperature is about 7-8°C and we did dress warmly, but obviously not warmly enough. My younger daughter was looking at everything in awe and my older daughter was listening carefully to the recording, trying to remember as much as possible. And guess what, she really did remember a lot. The hubby liked it as well. So, mission accomplished.

For more information about Postojna Cave, please visit http://www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/

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