Thursday, 26 July 2018

The Križna Cave (Križna jama)

Slovenia’s green Karst is full of caves, only a few of which are open to public. Although Postojna Cave and UNESCO protected Škocjan Caves are by far the most well-known and visited tourist caves in Slovenia, we would recommend the naturally-preserved 8.273 metre-long Križna cave for a more authentic and less Disney-esque experience. The name, which translates as ‘Cross Cave’, comes from St. Cross Church (cerkev Sv. Križa) nearby. It is the seventh longest cave system in Slovenia and offers a totally unique experience. The 22 emerald lakes are connected by an underground crystal-clear stream. Within the side passages ancient bones of cave bears can be seen, and by the number of specialised cave dwellers, the Križna Cave ranks among the richest caves in the world. The cave is so captivating that you can entirely forget about the outside world. The temperature inside the cave is a constant 8 degrees year-round, so be sure to wear your woolly socks and coats!

Foto Peter Gedei
The short tour lasts around 1 hour, and it involves a 600-metre walk, followed by a short dinghy ride on the first lake. The lake splits here and those, taking the short tour can return on foot on the same path. Walking along the paths, used by cave bears for thousands of years, and paddling along the lakes in karst underground is an experience you will never forget.

Underground lakes that are up to 7 metres deep were formed behind sinter barriers, that emerged because of the build-up of calcareous sinter.

Foto Csaba Egri
The entrance to the Križna cave is somewhere in the middle between the Bloke plateau, the Lož valley and the Cerknica plain. If we take the main passage, called Jezerski rov (Lake Passage), heading from the entrance in the direction of water flow, we get to Kalvarija, where the cave splits in two passages. One is called Blata and the other Pisani rov.

Through these two passages, the water from the Bloke plateau streams from one lake to another, continues its way to the Nova Križna cave and surfaces at the Šterbrščica stream.

Foto Csaba Egri
You can visit at any weather and season, rain or sunshine! So, don’t miss out on an opportunity to see this amazing and mysterious Karst underworld.   

More information about Križna Jama cave can be found here: http://krizna-jama.si/en/about-the-cave/ and more information about sights and activities in Green Karst can be found here: http://zelenikras.si/en/

NEARBY ACCOMODATION:
For your best comfort we recommend accommodation in Youth Hostel ARS VIVA, that includes a cultural centre with open-air events and art gallery. You can book your stay on:
T: +386 40 501116

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Underground beauty

Surrounded by dripstones and bats

I have to admit that I didn't know which title I could give to this article to make it more appealing, because this attraction certainly and undoubtedly deserves it. When visiting our cave in Postojna, prepare for a cooling of 8-10°C. In fact, you're lucky because the Postojna Cave is open all year long without exception. During the season between May and October you have the opportunity to see it hourly. Within an hour and a half you can see 5 km of its interior, some of which on your feet and some of it with a cave train. The cave can also be visited by disabled people and children in strollers. Fortunately, there is never bad weather in the underground. The more daring ones have an option to visit 3 underground caves of the Postojna Cave system in the company of experienced cave guides using a rope in 2-4 hours with the caving equipment and a helmet.
 
Photo: Iztok Medja, www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/
This year the cave is celebrating 200 years since the cave lamplighter Luka Čeč has discovered its most beautiful parts and for this purpose there will be several events and celebrations. Its greatness already saw more than 38 million visitors. They also brought the news about the cave across the globe. They reward every millionth visitor so keep your fingers crossed! The Postojna Cave is also known as the longest tourist cave in Europe as it has 24 km of underground routes.

People in the past believed that a dragon lives in the Postojna Cave. As you know olms live in the cave and when they floated to the surface in the course of strong currents, people were convinced that they are the dragons' offspring. They have no eyes, they live for more than 100 years and can live without food for up to 8 years. Two years ago 21 olms came out of the eggs in the cave but their reproduction is still considered a secret.

Photo: Dragan Arrigler, www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/
The cave was fun even in the 19th century and it was a privilege to visit it at that time. In the visitor's book where he talks about the cave he says that it was already illuminated at that time as if there were stories from the Thousand and One Nights going on there. Before 1900, the cave had permanent electrical lighting. Nowadays, concerts are taking place in the cave. It was in this cave in the world that a new science was born - biospeleology that studies life in caves. Our cave system is considered one of the most diverse on Earth.

Photo: Iztok Medja, www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/
Thomas Cook also included it's visit in his first journey around the world. He said that it was worth making a trip from Venice to Postojna for this world gem.

Photo: Iztok Medja, www.postojnska-jama.eu/en/
After an interesting and mysterious day in the limestone and water landscape you can wake up fresh in a new day at the Proteus hostel in the centre of Postojna around which the park is planted. The dormitory building where the hostel is located, is 800 meters away from the Postojna Cave and 500 meters from the main bus station. The hostel makes sure to organize colourful events for which you have to ask in advance. If you decide to be their guest, remember that with the HI Slovenia membership card you get 10% off

You'll be amazed at the special features of the Karst world and its mystery. In the upcoming summer days the cave visit is perfect for a pleasant refreshment. While you're at it also take a look at the dragon's offspring. What lovely creatures our amazing planet Earth creates, right? Let's take care of our mother Earth!








Monday, 21 May 2018

Among the alpine peaks

Floating in the air

Have you ever glided freely through the air looking at the beautiful mountains around you? Have you ever seen the world as birds do? In Bovec you'll find many adrenalin junkies and this excitement gives them the feeling that they're alive. That way they feel the world around them more genuinely. Fly now in tandem with the outdoor agency Avantura. Their take-offs are from Mangart, Stol, Kuk and Kanin. They have already presented nature from the air to many satisfied customers who still come back to fly with them. HI cards holders have a 10% discount on a tandem paragliding flight.

 
For relaxation after the experience in the air treat yourself to a hand massage for which you should ask in advance. You can also enjoy in a jacuzzi and in Finnish sauna. They also connect you to restaurants in Bovec so that everyone can find something for themselves. Don't worry, they take care of all your senses!

To fill up your batteries after an exciting and intense sports adventure go to the hostel Bovec with free wi-fi. You'll find it in more than a century old but now completely renovated house in a traditional provincial style. So that your legs won't get tired too much, it'll take you to the hostel only 5 minutes from the main square or from the bus station. And one reminder, in the Bovec hostel with the HI membership card you get a 10% discount on the overnight accommodation!

 
Who hasn't looked yet in the sky and wished being like a bird completely carefree and weightless? At least for that time in the air, you'll put your problems off your chest and feel only that moment. All in all, this moment is the only one we have and which really counts. The past has passed and the future hasn't come yet.










Monday, 14 May 2018

Underworld of the only liquid metal on the planet

Can you guess what I mean?
 
Walk through the Anthony's main road which is the entrance for visitors to the underground of the mercury mine in Idrija. I probably don't need to say specifically that the mine is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In front of the pit, there is a large Šelštev building which used to be a calling room which means that they checked the presence of the miners there, made a short prayer with a plea for a happy and safe work after which they were given their daily assignments. It included, among other things apartments from the employees in the mine. The famous Slovenian engineer Stanko Bloudek was born there.

Foto: Jani Peternelj, Fototeka: www.cudhg-idrija.si/en/anthonys-main-road
Antony's Main Road from the year 1500 is one of the oldest preserved entrances into a mine on the oldest continent and thus also the oldest part of the mine in Idrija. Don't be afraid if the dwarf Perkmandlc is in the cave! He liked to dig ore, tease the miners and sometimes he even showed the miners where to dig ore. Children will learn about the various mining professions here and with a bit of luck they can also find the Perkmandlc's treasure. You'll witness the stories of the hard life of miners and you can see a unique underground chapel. There are also statues as miners' patron saints: St. Barbara and St. Ahatius. With the HI card you're entitled to a student discount.

Prepare to walk about 1200 m on a pleasant 13°C in one hour. When buying a combined ticket for the Anthony's main road and the Hg smelting plant, you get an 11% discount.

Foto: Samo Trebižan, Fototeka: www.cudhg-idrija.si/en/anthonys-main-road
If I talk about mercury so much, I can tell you more about it, right? They used it for all sorts of things. From extracting gold and treating diseases to measuring the temperature and predicting weather. Working with it brought us Nobel prize winners. The experiments with it gave us the basis of modern chemistry and we're using it in space exploration. Nowadays due to its toxic characteristics it's used less. Through the centuries combustion engineers in Idrija also refined the burning furnaces for the smelting of ore. With the help of experiments and interactive games, you'll learn more about the importance and usage of liquid metal in many areas of life to this day.

Foto: M. Lenarčič, Fototeka: www.cudhg-idrija.si/en/anthonys-main-road
To best anchor the freshly gained museum knowledge in your heads and to unwind, I recommend staying in the Idrija hostel. It lies atop a hill above the city where a bed awaits you for only 9€/night. The closest cafes to seize the day are only 5 minutes away by foot. They offer you free bed linen, a towel, as well as free internet and parking. If booked in advance, an all-inclusive package is a great deal. If you decide to become their guest, remember that you get a 10% discount with the HI Slovenia membership card. 

As far as I know my closest contact with mercury was when I smashed the thermometer with it. I got really scared about that because it's poisonous but fortunately I quickly got rid of the mess. Who doesn't have at least a bit of it in the dental amalgam fillings, for which some people say harm us while others say they're safe. If my dentist didn't really know how to answer to this question, who can?




  



Thursday, 26 April 2018

Visit the Museum of Illusions

Our senses can cheat on us

Sometimes when things go wrong we think, well, at least we have brain and eyes, they cannot let us down and we can trust them. But we can also put our own senses on the test. In the Museum of Illusions our confidence in the infallibility of the brain can quickly be dispelled. Again, we can ask ourselves the old question: Is everything in our life just an illusion?


There is nothing as it seems in the Museum of Illusions. In fact, this is not even a real museum. It's not a boring museum where you can only see exhibitions of old things or paintings. Museum is different especially in the fact that it is open every day from nine in the morning to ten in the evening, when other museums are already closed. There is no tour guide there since each visitor is guided by himself. Each exhibited object, whether it is an image, an installation or a room, has an explanation in Slovene, English, German and Italian. Instructions are the guide of what to do with the object and it is a must to follow for the perfect experience. Then it is explained exactly how the relationship between your mind and your eyes works in an object and why the brain does not always understand what the eyes are telling it. This is a great way of entertainment and of learning to understand our vision, perception and brain. The museum gives us the opportunity to discover complex science in a simpler way. All illusions are the result of some scientific research. In the museum we can take a photo, in fact, there are many highlighted photo points from which you can make unusual photos of your co-visitors in all possible poses. And a great photo that cannot be taken anywhere else can be also taken here. Perhaps you've always wanted a photo of your head on a tray on a setting table. Or photos on which you are jumping or sitting on the ceiling. But you can also take a picture with a special camera that works like a kaleidoscope.


There are dozens of paintings in the museum which seem perfectly normal, but of course, when you look closely, they are not. They put your eyes and brain on a test. You can study for hours and think which line is longer than the other. We also find special 3D holographs that change right before us and even Einstein’s heads are waiting for us. There are also some kind of rooms that literally rotate your gaze and give you the opportunity to see things from a new perspective. You can go to an endless disco or to a room where gravity does not work where the ball rolls upwards and even you can get dizzy for a moment. 


With their special features these rooms create an illusion. One of the main stars of the museum is certainly the VORTEX tunnel in which you feel like the whole world revolves around you and you lose balance while trying to not fall down every time you make a step. You can also play with basic colours and observe their inflow. The Ames Room, however, allows us to follow people’s size changing only by walking around the room. The specialty of the museum is that each of the illusionist rooms has its own hashtag with the name of the room which gives them even greater interaction. In the end you are invited to play in a smart playroom which is also very suitable for the youngest as it encourages you to exercise your brain cells through playing with special wooden toys and other games. This way you can further test your brain cells and give them new challenges. Some games can also be bought at the store. There are so many things in the museum that your head can start spinning. All this can come from all optical scams and sloping rooms or simply from all the experiences in the museum. The Museum of Illusions is the largest museum of its kind in this part of Europe.


The museum is such a great, fun and educational relaxation from everyday life. It surprises us and makes us think. Perhaps we can be overwhelmed by how easy it is to influence our brain. It is also suitable for connecting and meeting new people since it is important to cooperate and interact with each other for the perfect experience. And of course we can interact through photo shooting. The museum is located in the centre of Ljubljana, on the Congress Square, near the University of Ljubljana and has two floors. It is in the immediate vicinity of other sights which also means shelter in the rain or on too hot days. The museum was opened in the autumn of 2016 but thanks to all its characteristics, it quickly gained popularity and is certainly worth a visit. It is perfect for every generation and it is also suitable for group tours.

And now the great news: holders of HI cards have a 5% discount on the price of an adult ticket, which costs 9.5 euros. Did you know that the face you see in the mirror is not the same as that seen by other people when they look at you?











Monday, 16 April 2018

Ocizla

On the crossroads of three worlds

The magnitude of the forests and meadows that spread in every direction and the richness of its underworld are only a few blessings that Ocizla offers to its visitors. This sunlit village that houses a little over a hundred inhabitants is so special due to its geographic position – it lies directly on the juncture of the Karst, Istria and Čičarija regions of Slovenia. Though the infamous bora wind doesn’t spare us there in the wintertime, it won’t reach us once we step into the woods, thus we can peacefully enjoy the natural jewels. 

@Author - Photo Sandro Sedran S-Team
If we hike along the three-hour memorial circular TIGR path, which takes us mainly through the woods, we learn a lot about the village of Ocizla.

The hike starts in the middle of the village at the pond, which gets its water from the nearby spring and once served to water the cattle. Water remains our faithful companion down the route and we are constantly cradled by water sources – some visible, others gone because of draught or disappeared underground due to limestone bedrock. The path will lead us alongside various streams; some we will meet, others cross, and for some we will bear witness to their disappearance underground. Small waterfalls and ponors won’t fail to astound us along the way, and nor will the impressive underground world, especially upon crossing the natural bridge. Luza, a natural spring that will greet us after several minutes of walking, is sure to impress, freshen and fuel us for the rest of the hike. The waters in the area are very clean and the first to prove that is the European crayfish, or the noble crayfish that still live here. The purity of the water is due to our ancestors, who exploited the water resources, but also nurtured them. Our ancestors were aware of the water’s importance, so they duly cherished it; they tended and tidied the surroundings and they put up watermills to alleviate their own work – the remains along the trail will testify on that. Our ancestors would catch crayfish in the streams, at certain points the women would gather and do laundry together and in time for koline, the pig slaughtering festivities, people would wash the animals’ bowels in the streams. The water was furthermore used to make slaked lime and many of our ancestors learned how to swim within the water pools.

@Author - Photo Sandro Sedran S-Team
So, as we hike this circular TIGR trail, let us think about the most precious of all worldly goods and the cradle of all life on Earth, water. And just as the water moves to make a water cycle, we will move and round up our hike right at the village pond of Ocizla, where we first started.

@Author - Photo Sandro Sedran S-Team
After the trail you are most welcome to spend the night at Ocizla’s Youth Hostel called Ociski raj, which translates as ”Ocizla’s Paradise” in English. We offer accommodation with a rich breakfast, and everyone with the Hostelling International Slovenia membership card is granted 10% discount on accommodation. Upon seeing the tremendous opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and cycling, we are sure you will want to extend your stay. For those of you who are keen on exploring on wheels, we rent bikes, while the hiking buffs we can always direct to explore the astounding Glinščica river Valley – or the nearby mount Slavnik, if you’re more of a daredevil. Rock climbers will especially enjoy the Karst Rim, where you can find two world-renowned climbing faces: Mišja peč (or “little mouse”, as it is affectionately known among climbers) and Osp. The beginners will appreciate the Črni kal route, which is only a few kilometers from the two aforementioned faces, Risnik, which is quite shorter, and the famous cave for bouldering, Črnotiče.

@Author - Photo Sandro Sedran S-Team
There is something for everyone in Ocizla or near, so we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy your stay here.


Wednesday, 11 April 2018

A stop in the capital

Greenery in the concrete jungle

Ljubljana Tourism and other tourist providers promote the tourist offer of Ljubljana and the rest of Central Slovenia region. The institute was founded by the City of Ljubljana as a local tourist organization. More information about Ljubljana and Central Slovenia is available at Ljubljana Tourist Information Centers (TIC). You can also hire a local guide there. Ljubljana is proud of its title the Green Capital of Europe 2016 and you can also use wi-fi across the city.

@Author - B. Kladnik, www.slovenia.info/en
So what do we recommend you visiting in our capital? Take a look at some of the masterpieces of our architect Plečnik: the Triple bridge in the very centre of the city, listen to jazz, rock and classical concerts in the Križanke outdoor theater, which is the former monastery of the Holy Cross and take a walk along Ljubljanica in Trnovo. There is a former freight port and nowadays you can socialize, relax and sunbathe on the staircase and wide benches. You can do the same in the Tivoli Park where there are even more trees, flowers, sculptures and fountains. It's good to get out of the concrete jungle a bit to charge your batteries. Don't forget to take a look at the castle. Go there on foot or with a funicular where you'll have a wonderful view of the city.

@Author - B. Kladnik, www.slovenia.info/en
In between you'll get hungry and thirsty. Here are a few solutions. Try štruklji (sour stroodle), kranjska sausage with excellent mustard, beef tongue, ričet stew, bograč stew, roasted potatoes, frog legs, deer's back, pancakes with curd, a traditional Slovene dessert potica… For easier digestion of the consumed food try local beers and wines. In the warmer months that are coming you can also refresh yourself on the way at public drinking fountains because the tap water is good quality and drinkable. In addition, every Friday on nice weather between April and November you can taste Slovenian food as well as food from other countries at a culinary event called Odprta kuhna (open kitchen). If you get some unwanted kilograms, continue your exploration of Ljubljana with a borrowed bicycle for a symbolic price. You know the saying: mens sana in corpore sano!

www.odprtakuhna.si/en/
Of course I shouldn't forget that the HI card holders have a 50% discount on regular tours in Ljubljana!

If you want to see more of what Ljubljana can offer, then the best idea is to spend the night at a hostel. Hostel Vila Veselova next to park Tivoli is a good spot to explore our capital because the main attractions are close, there is also hostel Tabor which has a hall for different events near the main train and bus station. Affordable hostel Ljubljana is located in the suburbs of Ljubljana near the BTC shopping center. We shouldn’t overlook hostel Tresor, which lies in the heart of the very crowded Čopova street and only 50 meters away from the Prešeren Square and hostel DIC, which is located in the shelter of the castle hill and offers accommodation only in the summer. Everybody with the HI membership card get 10% off.


This time we talked more about nature, architecture and culinary experiences of our capital city. Next time, let's take a look at other hidden gems, shall we?