I have a cave phobia. Snakes, spiders, no problem – but caves freak me out. I’ve been into the bowels of the earth twice in the past few years, both times in Spain, and both times I tried to tell myself that I would be OK once I got inside. But then once in, I’d have to hold on to something, seriously afraid I would have a nervous breakdown.
So when I brought my last group to Slovenia in April, of course we had to go to the Postojna caves. Besides Lake Bled, the Postojna caves are probably the biggest tourist attraction in Slovenia. I knew there would be a lot of people there, and generally I like to take my groups to more off the beaten track places, but one can’t visit wineries 100% of the time, right? I told myself – you can do this.
When we arrived at the ticket office, I started to get a little worried. I asked our driver and guide, Sanjin, if there were any really narrow passages I would have to squeeze through. “Why,” he asked. “Are you scared?” I had to admit to him I was afraid of caves, but he assured me that the Postojna caves are huge, and there was nothing to worry about.
I am not going to lie and say I wasn’t just a tiny bit freaked out at times during the two hour tour, but he was right, there was plenty of space inside. I didn’t have to squeeze through any narrow passageways or climb through any holes deep inside the earth. And I am happy that I made it, because it really is incredibly beautiful down there.
I won’t go into all the major details about this 24 kilometer series of underground rooms; just a little bit about the experience, to hopefully relax the other folks out there who are as freaked out about caves as I am.
Once you have your ticket with your allotted entry time in hand, you proceed to an area organized by language (the English language gathering spot was very busy on our visit – the Slovenian, not so much.) You are then guided in, to an open air train that takes you the first few kilometers into the cave. The crafty Slovenians installed this train no less than 140 years ago – can you imagine the thrill in the early 19th century? The train goes pretty fast, too. I loved it.
Once off the train, there is a guide who explains some of the history and phenomena of the cave, at various parts of a somewhat long walk. The walkways are wide enough that even if there are people stopping to take photos, you can still get by easily.
It can get a little slick in spots, but for the most part, I found it to be the least slime-free cave I have even been in.
Once in, you are treated to many fantastic stalagmites that often take the shape of recognizable objects. While the guide urges not to stay too far back from the group, there really is no pressure to rush.
They space the groups out enough so that while there is a bit of a crowd at the beginning, it soon spreads out and you can have plenty of room to breathe.
At the end of the walk, there are some restrooms and a gift shop. Then you get back on another train to get out. On that train, you pass through a cave room with a chandelier in it. I would have loved a picture of that, but we went through too fast and I did not have my camera ready. But when you go, you will!
So, I survived the Postojna cave, and will not be afraid of this one anymore. Which is good, because now I can breathe easy the next time I bring a group to Slovenia.
You can read more about Postojna cave and its unique features here – Postojna Cave Park.
A visit to the caves is one of the many wonderful excursions on GrapeHops A Wine & Food Journey Through Slovenia tour.
Shannon Essa leads small-group tours focusing on wine, food, and local culture in Croatia, Slovenia, Northern Italy and Northern Spain & Portugal.
Discover the backstreets of Venice or the wine, craft beer, and slow food of Piedmont, Italy. In Spain, experience the rustic foods and low-key lifestyle in beautiful Galicia, the wineries along the Camino de Santiago in the Bierzo region, or the justifiably famous wine regions and local food traditions of Catalonia. See many of Croatia’s most beautiful sights and learn about the rebirth of one of Europe’s oldest wine areas. And see all this with Shannon, who loves unique and out of the way wine and food experiences.
When not in Europe, Shannon does her eating and drinking in San Diego, California.