It was a Wednesday and the skies were blue in Croatia! Almost a strange phenomenon, according to some of the locals after so many days of non-stop rain.
Once again we were up early, 06:30, as we had to be on the road by 08:00. We were leaving Croatia for a couple of days to visit Slovenia.
White islands off the coast of Croatia
On the way we drove through some beautiful mountain passes and enjoyed some more views of the blue-green Adriatic Sea. The temperature ranged between 3 and 10deg Celsius and the mist rising up from the valleys was spectacular.
Mist rising up the mountains
Our first stop was near a small town called Sinj (pronounced Sin). This is another ancient town with its key feature the Nehaj Fortress which was a place for Christian refugees from the Ottomans in Bosnia from 1558-1671 when they had to leave, having been accused of piracy. We didn’t get the opportunity to actually visit the town but had a half hour coffee stop at a service station as the driver has to have a stop after a certain time or number of kilometres travelled. This is very strictly adhered to in Europe. We were able to take the photo below and then in Opatija we saw another one and there was a Stars Walk of Fame along the pavement.
A sign in Sjun
We then continued on to Opatija where we would have a longer break and lunch. It is a beautiful port town with pure white islands just off the coast. Although it is quite a small port it is able to receive some very large tourist ships. Opatija is a long narrow town as the land rises steeply from the coastline but the the harbour wall is wide and smooth so we enjoyed a good hour strolling along it. On the harbour wall there is the statue called ‘Maiden with a Seagull‘. The Seagull has a broken wing representing losses at sea.
A craft market in Opatija
The Harbour wall and original Tower of the city wall
The Maiden with the Seagull
The star of a Slovenian pop singer on the Walk of Fame
At 13:15 we were on our way again. As we rejoined the highway, there was a small building on our left referred to as a tourist office. It looked more like a forgotten ablution block with nothing else around it.
The lonely Tourist Office
Our next stop was at the Postonja Caves in central Slovenia. The tour of the caves was a true highlight of the trip even though the temperature was between 3 and 8degC. These caves, created by the Pivka River, are the second longest in Slovenia which has a number of underground cave systems. The Postonja Cave system is a little over 24kms long but only some 5kms are open to the public. To access these one is first taken on a 10 minute train ride passing some beautiful stalagmites and stalagtites. The first trains were pushed by the guides followed by gas driven trains which were finally upgraded to electric ones after 1945. The entrance to the caves is blackened, as well as for a fair distance into them. We learnt that German occupying forces in the 1940s had stored barrels of gasoline in the caves. In 1944 Slovene Partisans set these on fire damaging many of the caves and left the entrance blackened.
Vicky & Trevor at the entrance to the caves
Sign at the entrance to the caves
After a delightful tour of these beautiful natural creations we were back on to our bus to drive the short distance to Bled where we would spend 2 nights. It was during these 2 days that Slovenia stole my heart. Bosnia was a very interesting place to visit, Croatia has some positively beautiful scenery and very friendly people but it was the glorious rural scenes and mountains of Slovenia which were the best for me.