Piran

Edge of Slovenia, Italy and Croatia
Piran, Slovenia


I didn’t sleep very well. This always happens the first night of being away.

I didn’t have to be up especially early (8am), but it felt like a struggle.

Lucky I looked out of the window before heading out. Pouring rain. Great. So I headed out in the rain. And got soaked.

I only had to walk a few blocks away to another hotel to wait to be picked up for a day trip to the countryside.

I was picked up at 8.30am, just a small group in a minivan. Driving along the motorway, we could barely see anything due to the fog and rain. We only saw about 3 cars anyway. The roads are so quiet.

It took about an hour to drive to the south western part of the country. First stop – the Skocjan caves. These are a UNESCO world heritage site and are just one of over 11,500 caves across Slovenia. The entrance fee was rather expensive, EUR16 per person.

And we had to wait until 10am for a tour to depart. In that time, about 100 people turned up. No joke. We all set off in a long line down the road towards the cave.

Luckily once we got to the cave we were split up into different groups. The English group had about 20 people, so that was ok. Then I found out we weren’t allowed to take photos inside. Devastated!

What’s the point in visiting something if you aren’t allowed to take pictures?!

So I stuck to the back, where the lady couldn’t see me and was sneaky…. It took nearly 2 hours to walk around the cave.

It is about 6km in total, but we were only visiting 3km of it. The first section was fairly narrow, with lots of stalagmites and stalactites. This carried on for a while, winding around. Then we suddenly opened out into a wider cavern, which was huge. Really high ceiling. And a massive thick tunnel shaped stalagmite. It was really cool. Then further along this cavern, it became louder and louder. A running river inside the cave. The cavern suddenly opened out even more. But you couldn’t see far due to the mist in the air. It was kind of magical – dark, misty air, loud sound of the river, which you could see a glimpse of far below. It was the first time I noticed being cold. The caves are 12 degrees Celsius inside. (I was layered up in all the clothes I brought with me…which wasn’t a lot!) We had to walk around the edge of this vast cave, over a small bridge and we emerged out the other side. Around a corner and we were out into daylight.

5.1462060800.cave

From here, it was a bit more walking around the river and the edge of a karst rocky landscape. It was so green and really pretty.

We stopped for lunch in a small town. They had one restaurant and it was ridiculously busy. Seems all the locals come here for Sunday lunch. Apparently lots also come over from Italy – as we are very close to the border. All they serve – cheese, pig and bread. Dried ham is a local speciality, they hang it out to dry in winds of up to 300km per hour. Yuck.

So I sat outside in the sunshine. The rain had now stopped! It was a bit of a drive to our next stop.

And the easiest way to get there – to drive through Italy and through Trieste! Trieste didn’t look like a particularly exciting city. Largely a massive port.

Next stop, Piran. This is a medieval town, on the coastline. Cars are not allowed inside. So we had to park in a tiny multi storey car park about 1 km away and there was a free bus into the town (yes, could have walked…!).

In the main square, surrounded by colourful old buildings, was a large empty space, with a couple of Italian market stalls selling meats, cheese, wine, olives and small cakes. I walked up the hill behind the main square, and ended up on the city walls, next to a large church. It was possible to climb up the bell tower. It was just EUR1, so I decided to give it a go. It wasn’t too high. But the stairs were wooden and creaky and it was far too scary. I almost gave up several times. But I was nearly there…

The top was just as scary. No real sides to stop you from falling. And it was windy. And just too scary for me…! A couple of photos of the orange roofs and I was off, back down. Horrible.

Then I just got lost in the small, narrow streets.

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Eventually I ended up on the point, where the land ends, with another church on the tip. One side was looking back up to Italy. And the other side down to Croatia. Along the sea front were rows and rows of small restaurants. All just selling fish.

I was so hungry. Having not really eaten all day. I found an icecream shop, the only non-dairy flavour they had was blueberry. So I gave it a go. It was more like blueberry sherbet! It was ok, but not the best gelato I’ve had.

The final stop of the day was at Predjama Castle. This white castle is built into the side of a rock face. It’s pretty cool. We just looked from the outside, and that took about 5 minutes!

5.1462060800.predjama

We got back to the city about 7pm. So hungry. So walked nearly 2km up north to a vegan restaurant. But it was closed. Rubbish. So I ended up with some takeaway stir fry rice noddles and vegetables – which were actually pretty good. I had also been looking forward to chocolate vegan gelato that I had spotted yesterday. So pretty devastated to find that shop closed too.

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