Where else in the world can you ski in the morning and be on the beach in the afternoon – there are really very few, and Slovenia is one of them. This week I enjoyed a really short trip around this beautiful country, often overlooked by its neighbours Italy and Croatia, but it shouldn’t be, there is a whole lot to enjoy.
In the world of Brexit and having to queue for immigration for hours in some popular tourist destinations in Europe, you don’t have that problem arriving in Slovenia. With Ljubljana Airport being so small, it’s really easy – you’re through in seconds, and for us luggage waiting for you. As it was lunchtime and were ahead of schedule, we went to have some lunch nearby, on what could only be described as a retail park, but there was a vast array of different delicacies on offer, all out of the way from what you would normally opt for on the standard tourist trail. Still, our escort for the few days Blaz knew what he was doing!
First stop on the itinerary after arriving in Ljubljana was the captivating Postojna Caves, an interesting subterranean paradise that has been formed over thousands of years. A small train takes you the 3.5km from the entrance, to the footpath through the caves, which are a constant 10C all year round. The showpiece is the five-metre tall stalagmite called Brilliant, along with a view of their baby dragons.
We had our own private tour of the caves, just 10 of us – although we were told they usually have about 50 on each tour. During the height of the summer, they can have up to two tour an hour, fewer in October when we travelled. Although it now has electricity (and therefore modern lighting, along with the railway), we got to experience what it’s like when all the lights are turned off – somewhat of a strange and eerie feeling, where all you can hear is dripping water.
On the site of the caves is a soviet-style hotel, the Jama. Although from the outside it seems rather unassuming as you walk past from the caves, the hotel had a double life which wasn’t revealed until its renovation 8 years ago. There’s a secret room that housed the secret services of the former communist regime, and still raises questions of who exactly was there.
Part of the same complex, but a few kilometres away, Predjama Castle is the largest cave castle in the world, built over 800 years ago. The fairytale medieval castle has its own, romantic legend – and has been used over the years as a filming location and was the inspiration for The Game of Thrones.
Everything in Slovenia isn’t very far, so it was just a short ride to the seaside resorts of Portoroz and Piran. We actually stayed between the two resorts, at the Hotel Histrion, an old soviet-style hotel that has been recently renovated. The rooms were very modern, and mine had a great view of the sea towards Croatia.