Day 27 of Balkan Adventure

Day 27 of Balkan Adventure 06 October 2011

Day 27 of Balkan Adventure To Slovenia,Ljubljana and around Karst and Coast Today is final day of my Balkan Adventure and hopefully save the best for last. Wake up and go for another amazing breakfast.

Day 27 of Balkan AdventureThen get on the van for another day trip with roundabout Slovenia.

This is the tour I did with them that day.

Discovering the SLOVENIAN COAST and the KARST REGION. The first stop is the visit of medieval PREDJAMA CASTLE with dramatic setting in the gaping mouth of a cavern halfway up a hillside. The tour continues to SKOCJAN CAVES, one of the largest and most beautiful Karst caves in Europe.

Pass Koper, Izola and Portoroz we reach everyone’s favourite town on the Slovenian coast – PIRAN, with its medieval narrow streets and houses. Time for swimming and lunch, then we can head on to LIPICA, the homeland of the white Lipizzaner. We finish the tour in one of typical Karst WINE CELLARS with wine and the famous Karst dried ham tasting.

So the first stop of the day is to Predjama Castle, which is an old castle that was built into the side of a mountain, very neat. Here is some information about it:

Predjama Castle (Slovene: Predjamski grad or Grad Predjama, German: Höhlenburg Lueg, Italian: Castel Lueghi) is a Renaissance castle built within a cave mouth in southwestern Slovenia. It is located approximately 11 kilometres from Postojna.The castle became known as the seat of Knight Erazem Lueger (or Luegger), owner of the castle in 15th century, and a renowned robber baron.

He was the son of the Imperial Governor of Trieste, Nikolaj Lueger. According to legend, Erazem came into conflict with the Habsburg establishment, when he killed the commander of the Imperial army Marshall Pappencheim, who had offended the honour of Erazem’s deceased friend, Andrej Baumkircher of Vipava. Fleeing from the revenge of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, Erazem settled in the family fortress of Predjama. He allied himself with the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus, and began to attack Habsburg estates and towns in Carniola.

The Imperial forces sent the Governor of Trieste, Andrej Ravbar, to siege the castle. After a long siege, Erazem was betrayed by one of his men and killed.

A headstrong and rebellious knight, Erasmus rebelled against the Austrian emperor Fredrick III and eventually killed his kinsman. Thus enraged, the Austrian leader commissioned the governor of Trieste to capture and kill Erasmus. This is where the impregnability of Predjama Castle was truly put to the test.

For a year and a day Erasmus was besieged in his fortress. But, much to the dismay of his adversaries, he continued to survive and taunt the attacking soldiers by pelting them with cherries. They couldn’t figure out how he was getting his supplies. As far as they knew, there was only one way in and out of the valley, and the castle. But the cunning knight knew better. Unbeknownst to the soldiers, Erasmus knew of a secret tunnel leading from the castle, which allowed him to travel to the nearby village of Vipava and collect supplies, including hoards of fresh cherries when the season was ripe.

But it seemed that the soldiers were to have the last laugh.

Day 27 of Balkan AdventureWith the strategic placement of a small signal flag, a servant of Erasmus was bribed to reveal when his master was in attendance at that place where the elusive knight and even the noblest of men needed to go after consuming lots of cherries and wine: the outhouse. Unfortunately for Erasmus, the toilet, situated on the top floor and at the very edge of the castle, was the one place that wasn’t so impregnable. When the moment came, the flag was placed there by the treacherous servant. A single cannon ball was launched, and the errant knight was literally caught with his pants down.

Overall it was an amzing visit to this castle and I would recommend it to everyone.

After this we visited some more horses at LIPICA, the homeland of the white Lipizzaner. We stop at side of the road and see many of these fine horses in the distance. Eventually they all come walking over, very tame animals and very good looking horses.

From here we go to lunch stop where they serve dried ham and blueberry wine. It is a nice little village in Slovenia and once again nice to visit other parts of Slovenia. It is the town of Karst which is really nice.

After lunch stop we make it to the SKOCJAN CAVES. Which are totally amazing. We take the english tour of the caves and the walk takes about hour and half. No photos were allowed on the tour, just at the end. But the caves were totally amazing.

Here is some information about the caves:Skocjan Caves is a cave system in Slovenia. Due to its exceptional significance, Škocjan Caves was entered on UNESCO’s list of natural and cultural world heritage sites in 1986. International scientific circles have thus acknowledged the importance of the caves as one of the natural treasures of planet Earth. Ranking among the most important caves in the world, Škocjan Caves represents the most significant underground phenomena in both the Karst region and Slovenia.

Following its independence, the Republic of Slovenia committed itself to actively protecting the Škocjan Caves area; for this reason, it established the Škocjan Caves Regional Park, Slovenia and its Managing Authority, the Škocjan Caves Park Public Service Agency.[1]

Škocjan Caves is, above all, a natural phenomenon of global significance, ranking side by side with the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Islands, Mount Everest, and others. Ranking among the most important caves in the world, Škocjan Caves represents the most significant underground phenomena in both the Karst region and Slovenia.

Škocjan Caves was also entered on the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance on 18 May 1999. Together with the underground stream of the Reka River, they represent one of the longest karst underground wetlands in Europe.

The Reka River disappears underground at Velika Dolina into Škocjan Caves and then flows underground for 34 km towards the Adriatic Sea surfacing near Monfalcone where it becomes the source of the Timavo River. The view of the big river, in the rainy season as it disappears underground, on the bottom of Velika Dolina, 160 m under the surface, is both majestic and frightening.

The exceptional volume of the underground canyon is what distinguishes Škocjan Caves from other caves and places it among the most famous underground features in the world.

The river flowing through the underground canyon turns northwest before the Cerkvenik Bridge and continues its course along Hanke’s Channel. This underground channel is approximately 3.5 km long, 10 to 60 m wide and over 140 m high. At some points, it expands into huge underground chambers. The largest of these is Martel’s Chamber with a volume of 2.2 million cubic m and it is considered the largest discovered underground chamber in Europe and one of the largest in the world. It is interesting to note that an underground canyon of such dimensions ends with a relatively small siphon: one that cannot deal with the enormous volume of water that pours into the cave after heavy rainfall, causing major flooding, during which water levels can rise by more than one hundred metres.

Overall this was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Would highly recommend this.

Next and final stop on the day tour was to city of Piran which is on the coast.

We make it to the coast.

The coast of Slovenia is not that big. As you can see Croatia and Italy from Slovenia’s coast.

Here is some information about Piran, Slovenia:

Piran (Italian: Pirano) is a city and municipality in southwestern Slovenia on the Gulf of Piran on the Adriatic Sea. It is one of the three major towns of Slovenian Istria. The city resembles a large open-air museum, with medieval architecture and a rich cultural heritage.

Narrow streets and compact houses give the town its special charm. Piran is the administrative centre of the local area and one of Slovenia’s major tourist attractions.

Piran is the birthplace of composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, who played an important role in shaping its cultural heritage. The town’s main square, Tartini Square (Slovene: Tartinijev trg, Italian: Piazza Tartini), is named after him. In 1892, to mark the 200th anniversary of Tartini’s birth, the people of Piran decided to erect a monument in his honour. Venetian artist Antonio dal Zotto was commissioned to create the larger-than-life bronze statue of the maestro, which was eventually mounted on its pedestal in 1896.

The statue dominates the square, overlooked by the Cathedral of Saint George.

Piran is now the seat of the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI), founded in 2008 as one of the cultural projects of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean.

This one of the most interesting spots of the entire trip. I walk up to the church and many view points of this little city. Then do a walk about in the old town that is like a maze. Very neat. Lots of neat little corners of interest to explore.

From here walk along the water’s edge back to the center square of the city.

Finally it is time to go back to main city again as tour is over. It has been a good adventure.

Get dropped off at hotel for last time and just do one final walk about in the town.

As have early flight in morning to head home. Has been a good adventure of the Balkans and would recommend it to everyone.

Travel back to Canada is all fine and nothing went wrong, just a long security line in Toronto due to a work dispute but all was fine, reason I made this blog.

Stay tuned for next adventures.

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