Slovenia is a country I never thought I would visit, but after visiting I can say that it is a beautiful country and that I want to see more of it. I understand now why movies were filmed there including The Chronicles of Narnia. It makes perfect sense now. Aspects of Slovenia remind me of Switzerland–the flower pots beneath each window, lush green grass, orange and red ceramic roofs, and brightly coloured stucco houses (white, peach, red blue, lime green, etc…), yet it has its own unique features.
Being from Canada, I found it odd when I learned that Slovenia has 500-700 wild brown bears in the country; I hadn’t expected to find bears in Europe (you learn something new everyday). Slovenia is a country with vast natural beauty including natural thermal springs which contribute to the medical tourism industry. In the winter, Slovenia is popular for its skiing and ski jumping. The first person to scale Mount Everest was Slovenian if that is any indication of the type of people who live in Slovenia–extreme outdoor lovers. The windy forest hill roads lead me to an undeniable natural wonder and my favorite of all: the Postojna Caves.
The Postojna Caves started forming 3-4 million years ago and make up 21 kilometres of caves, 13 of which are open to the public. The 5 caves I visited (1 kilometre by foot and 4 kilometres by train pulley cars) are about 1 million years old. The remaining 8 caves open to the public can only be seen by alternative caving expeditions. The cave formations grow 1 centimeter (cm) every 100 years and 1cm every 1000 years for the tiny hanging spaghetti stalactites. The newly discovered caves have various beautiful rooms: white caves (made of calcium), red caves (made of iron), black formations (made of magnesium), spaghetti caves (looks like spaghetti), grand ball rooms (huge cathedral ceilings), and old caves (the oldest of them all). Each “room” has its own iconic feature: spaghetti stalactites/stalagmites, white, black and red stalactites/stalagmites, yet the two most popular sights in the cave system are a stalagmite that looks like a camel in the old cave and a diamond brilliance stalagmite which is the symbol for the Postojna Caves.
Many of the caves are under water and caves are constantly forming. The Postojna Caves hold the world record for having the most cave species, yet to my surprise, no bats live there because it is too cold and loud. When the massive ancient stalactites and stalagmites join, they form impressive columns as they are called–these were my favorite because they really showed me how old the caves are considering they only grow 1cm every 100 years (a growth rate slower than coral). The Postojna Caves are the most impressive caves I have ever seen. Of the caves I have seen in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand these are the most grand. I’m still left speechless from walking around the 9 degree Celsius caves like a little spec of dust on the cave floor.