Sunday, 10 April 2011

49 Slovenia

Friday 8th  April 2011
We left Jesolo at about 10 past 12 in the afternoon.  Our next port of call was Slovenia, and we were searching for some caves that I had visited with my family, forty years ago, when Slovenia was still Yugoslavia.  After searching our many resources, we found that we could park and stay overnight in the car park of the caves.  It was about a 5 hour journey to the caves and I managed to get two supermarket visits in, because I just didn’t know what to expect when we hit Slovenia. (Sometimes Ray does have the patience of a saint).
We were on time, since Ray had fixed Lizzie, she was running like a dream and we arrived at the Postojnska Jama caves, only to find that we were unable to camp there due to the time of year, again we were out of season.  Never fear, we knew that there was another campsite about 5km’s away, so we headed for it.  I can only say that the location was again fabulous, but it was also closed.  You could park up, wander about a bit and then drive through it, as it seemed to be split by a main road, well single track, so now we were a bit stuck.  After a walk around and letting everyone stretch their legs, taking a few pictures of the walk down to a cave entrance, we came across a small parking spot outside the site and wild camped for the night.
This is the far end of the cave we will visit tomorrow.
Slovenia is beautiful.  As we crossed the almost non existent border, it was like taking a huge step back in time.  The buildings, the tractors, the farming methods, seemed all very quaint and dated.  However, absolutely everything was clean, no graffiti and no litter.  Who would have thought, 100 metres over the border from Italy could be so different. It was quite funny because we had to stop for diesel and apparently they had the most modern chip and pin system and the attendant spoke perfect English, in fact most of the people we came into contact with did. (just as well really because we couldn’t pronounce any of their words).  There is a real feeling of pride in what they have. It also has a wonderful feel good factor.
See if you can spot Lizzy hiding in the trees.

Leon setting out his patch.
Anyway, back to the wild camping, it was a beautiful spot in the woods, and as I believed on the main road. (Two cars went through all night, and I think we spoiled their fun, if you know what I mean).   I was a little bit concerned about it and hardly slept, my imagination took over, very foolishly, because I don’t think we could be seen at all, it was absolutely pitch black, the owls hooted and Leon prowled, you don’t get much closer to nature than that, I am actually annoyed at myself for not being more relaxed about it, however I will work on it.    Ray slept the sleep of a man with a clear conscience.     

Saturday 9th April 2011

Postojnska Caves.

We awoke early from the wild camp and having set nothing out it was a quick decamp following coffee/tea and cerials. We drove the 5km from one end of the cave, which was beside our wild camp, to the other end where the public enter.

We parked (read - dumped) Lizzy and Wallace in a car park occupying the usual batch of spaces and were swiftly moved on by one of the cave staff who opened another car park early just so we did not cause too much of an obstruction. For free, I might add. 
A water mill just outside the cave entrance.

The public entrance to the cave - Mum might remember this.

We then had a lonely wait for the caves to open and at 10am by which time the place was mobbed, being Saturday. We got in on the first tour and duly sat on our little train carriage with hundreds of people that did not speak a word of English (or so it seemed).
Believe it or not he is giving it ...Woooo....Wooooo
The train then set off for its 2km tour into the cave and there was very little room for heads or arms to stick out. 
A pic taken on the train at a place with headroom.
When the train stopped we all got off and congregated around the sign pertaining to the language you wanted to listen to the commentary in.
All of a sudden everbody seemed to speak English - or at least want to listen to it !
The caves were absolutely huge, both in cavern size and length. They were fantastic. The pictures do little to evidence the size of them but here they are anyway.

The people give some idea of the size of this place.

We thought this one looked like a skull made of smaller skulls..

Natural mineral formed ponds

Now you know where Spaghetti comes from

Stalactite curtains

More scale of people under stalactites.

Where a stalactite meets a stalacmite, pillars like this are formed.

Beauty is too small a word.

I learned the difference between stalactites and stalacmites at school. Tights come down and mights go up. Go figure.
Karen learned that stalcmites use all their strength to go up and Stalactites hold on tight. Who went to the best school.

The cave oddly enough do have their own life system. One of them is a little beastie called a "Proteus". He is a blind long salamander type creature.
We left the cave after the obligatory fridge magnet hunt and set off for the 250km drive through to Hungary. We decided not to use the motorways as an electronic charging device needs to be purchaced and we could not be bothered with the expense or hastle. It turned out to be the best but slowest option.
One thing I did notice (no surprises) is the amount of big motorbikes in Slovenia - I was in heaven.
You've seen this pose before, all I'll say is old dog's no new tricks!!!!!!
We were able to sample the place as it is, beautiful and close up.
Karen has already mentioned the state of cleanliness and pride, here are some pics of the scenery.

The state of their cemetaries completely blew us away. These people make the UK look like a third word country.

And then we were completyely surprised by this perched on top of a telegraph pole.
This photo was taken in the centre of a village in the main through road.
We planned to stop in Hungary in a place called Heviz, which is a spa town, apparently there were a couple of sites open, but again it meant about 5-6 hours driving. Our journey had been a slow one as we avoided all the toll roads, and it was really funny, we kept getting flashed by the locals and it soon became apparent that Saturday afternoon is “Police catch the speeder day”, every town we went through, after being flashed at, we saw the Police with their speed traps.    Thank you the people of Slovenia, we love you. 

We arriverd at the Hungarian border at about 6pm and again could not use the motorway until we had registered Lizzy with the authorities and paid about £20 for a 10 day pass to use the motorways. They video cars using the motorways and log the registration numbers against their database. If no registration is done and you get stopped by the police and they run a check - you are in the soft and smelly big time.

This is the hungarian version of  "Hungary"

And another version ????

Hungary, was flat in comparison, and not as lovely.  It was dark when we found the rough location of the apparently open camp sites.  They all seemed to be up tiny little roads, that quite frankly we were a little too frightened to go up in case we got stuck, but they all appeared shut anyway, so executive decision later, we headed back up the motorway towards Budapest and stayed about 40Km’s outside in a service area.  So far we are not quite as impressed with Hungary.  One thing I will say, the driving regulations are a lot more stringent than those not enforced in Italy. There are no cars that look like they are ready for the dump, no one is on the phone, at least that we have seen and all speed limits are stuck to, vehemently.  Driving to the pub and having a drink is also a no no as the level of alcohol allowed in one’s system is ZERO.   I like the simplicity of it in that respect, no wishy washy British possibly/maybe rubbish.

Sunday 10th
We drove the last 40km’s to a campsite just outside of Budapest, in a town called "Erd".  The journey was quite fascinating in that as we drove through the towns, everyone stopped and stared, I was beginning to get a bit of a complex, (sometimes I’m quite woosie really).  I liked the fact, that Slovenia had words I couldn’t pronounce, but Hungary has words, I couldn’t even read or make sense of.  I have never seen so few vowels and as many Z’s, K’s and other consonants in one word.   But all is well. We have a lovely spot in our camp site, a very friendly couple who run the site, which incidentally is called “Flamingo Kemping Bei Budapest”.  I think they get more German tourists as this seems to be their second language.  Again its onsite facilities like the swimming pool and the restaurant aren’t open yet, but at least it is.
Tomorrow  Budapest.

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