Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Postonja Caves

This portion of the world is built upon limestone – in fact I don’t know how they even managed to ever put in a crop in some areas, so plentiful are the rocks. There’s one thing about limestone – it is easily dissolved and this feature allows for many caves, and sinkholes, to be created. We kept hearing about all of the gorgeous caves that can be found near Ljublyana so we figured we should go explore some for ourselves. Of course we headed out for the largest caves, Postojna Cave, carved by the Pivka River. The caves are found very deep underground – can’t be conveniently located to just walk into, oh no. Fortunately for us, they have this tram system that they use to get people down to the interesting cave area. The really interesting thing about the trams is that the cars the people ride in are almost identical to the ones used about 80 years ago, only the engine has changed. As you sit on the car, weaving back and forth, and ever downwards, you have the uncanny feeling that at any moment just one of those jutting rocks is going to hit you on the head. While none of them did, we sure ducked and bobbed a lot, just in case.
Once we made it to the lower reaches, a few kilometers in, we were let out. I had at first wondered about the rather large group of people – about 100 – and had tried to figure out how in the world they were going to talk to such a large group of people, particularly since we didn’t all speak the same language. Not to worry – they had it figured out. At the drop off  point, they had a number of signs with different languages written on them. You simply moved to one of about 10 different languages offered and, when we were all divided up, different guides appeared, ready to take their group around.     
The first thing you need to know is that they said that we weren’t supposed to take pictures. The second thing to know is that everyone took pictures anyway. At first we avoided taking them but after a while….we did too.  The porous nature of the rocks allowed the surface water to filter through the stone, carrying the limestone and other minerals into the caves below, creating a spectacular collection of columns, ribbons, stalactites and stalagmites in a dazzling array of formations and colors. The few pictures I have here barely scratch the surface of the beauty of the caves. (Be sure to check out Jeff’s pictures – he has posted some on Facebook and more will be coming, I’m sure).
We wound our way up and down the caverns, finding new combinations at every turn. Towards the end of the walk we arrived at a chamber known as the Concert Hall. This area is huge – large enough for 1,000 people to gather in the area. It also has such exceptional acoustics that they have actually had concerts in the hall, featuring symphony orchestras and a variety of singes.

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