After our full day at Vintnar Gorge and Lake Bled, we woke early the next morning and drove to Postojna to check-in to Hotel Jama. Postojna is famous not only for its caves, the 2nd largest cave system in Slovenia, but also for nearby Predjama Castle.
When we started planning this leg of the trip, it seemed to make sense to spend the night here to allow us plenty of time to visit both sites. We wouldn’t normally stay on site at such a tourist attraction, but this particular article from the British newspaper The Telegraph giving high scores for convenience, food & drink, and value for money sealed the deal. Here’s what else is cool about this hotel. It was built in 1971 during the Communist Era, and when it was renovated in 2016, secret rooms were discovered – rooms for wiretapping for eavesdropping on important guests as well as an entire, secret communications hub for the Communist Yugoslavian government.
After we checked-in and dropped our bags, we grabbed our warm sweatshirts and went to pick up the tickets we bought online in advance. We chose the Full Park Experience ticket to also allow us a visit to the Caves, Predjama Castle & the Vivarium.
We visited the Vivarium first – essentially a museum in a cave with exhibitions dedicated to all the unique animals that live in the Postojna cave system. In particular, this creature – the olm – a creature that lives exclusively in the caves. Some believe that they are actually baby dragons!
The tour of the cave system begins and ends with a ride on a train to take you deep into the cave system followed by a guided tour. The cave is COLD – a constant 50 degrees Fahrenheit all year long. I tried, but the pictures below really don’t do justice at all to the beauty of all the formations within. You can find much, much better pictures here.
We all got VERY cold inside the cave and had to sit out in the sun for a bit to warm up once our tour was over. There was A LOT of whining (see pic below). We did some souvenir shopping and then grabbed lunch at the on-site Mill restaurant. Jason was drawn to the goat that was being roasted on a giant spit at the entrance. I was drawn to the wine to warm me up.
After lunch, we took the shuttle included with our ticket to Predjama Castle. I say shuttle, but it was actually a giant tour bus.
This castle is just amazing. Built into the side of the mountain and within a cave mouth, it was occupied by various aristocratic families beginning in the 1200’s, but it’s most notable occupant was Erasmus in the 1500’s. Legend has it, he was killed by a cannonball fortuitously aimed at the achilles heel of the castle, the toilet, built of wood and positioned off of the side of the castle. (The girls very much delighted in this historical detail) During WWII, the castle was confiscated by Communist Yugoslavian authorities and turned into a museum.
It was a long day of sightseeing. Once the Cave closed, Postojna Jama really emptied out and became rather peaceful, so we decided to have dinner at the hotel restaurant. The Telegraph article had great things to say about it, and they weren’t lying. We dined out on the empty patio overlooking the countryside, and it was a wonderful last dinner in Slovenia.
We had planned to spend a few hours in Verona the next day on our drive back to Milan, but with temperatures close to 100 degrees, we made the wise decision to scrap that plan. Instead, we took our time on the drive west, made sure to stop at an Autogrill or two (we really developed a DEEP love for Autogrills on this trip) and then spontaneously did some last minute shopping at an indoor shopping mall before checking in at our hotel near the Malpensa Airport.
We always stay at the Holiday Inn Express Milan when we fly out of MXP. It offers a shuttle to the airport, a continental breakfast, and it’s very clean. On previous trips, we had always arrived to the hotel after dinner, but this year, I had to find a nearby restaurant for our last meal in Italy. Luckily, there was a “plate restaurant” in the suburb town of Busto Arsizio not too far away.
Over 15 years ago on a trip to Venice with my parents, I ordered a Fritto Misto di Pesce at a restaurant that came with a commemorative Ceramic plate to take home. From that moment on, I have always tried to work in a meal at a “plate restaurant” that belongs to the Unione Ristorante Buon Ricordo whenever possible to add to my collection.
The member Restaurants all offer a signature dish that highlights the cuisine of the area. The commemorative plate lists the name of the restaurant, town, and the dish and includes a symbolic image. All the plates are hand painted in Vietri sul Mare, one of Italy’s most famous ceramic producing towns on the Amalfi Coast. The Restaurant in Busto Arsizio is I 5 Campanili, and its signature dish is the Sinfonia Bustocca.
Departure days are always tough for us because a Family Adventure is coming to an end. They are usually just a series of NOT noteworthy train rides, car rides and flights back home. But for this Family Adventure that started with an epic and memorable arrival and travel day, it was only fitting that it would end with one too.
Our flight from Milan to Dusseldorf, Germany left without incident. However, our Dusseldorf to Newark flight experienced a series of delays resulting in a total layover of 9 HOURS. Thankfully, the Dusseldorf airport has a lounge that is not specific to any airline and offered day rates. We spent the entire day in this lounge – napping, eating all the food and snacks, and drinking all the drinks.
Slovenia really surprised us with its beauty, the friendliness of its people, and its delicious food and drink. It also yielded some of our best pictures of the entire trip. We hope to return again someday to explore it even more.
What We Say About Postojna and Predjama
Cold caves are NOT for me, but the castle was breathtakingMom
I liked the spaghetti and ice cream shaped rock formationsBig Sis C
I loved the castleLil Sis M
I can’t imagine building a castle into the face of a cliff, but I’m glad they did. It was amazing.Dad