Saturday, September 18, 2010

Under the weather in Slovenia

Not because I'm feeling ill, but because the entire country has a "red flag" warning for flooding due to heavy rains -- at least that's what the woman at the rental car counter said. I can vouch for the heavy rains part, so I went to tour two spectacular caves. I figure it won't be raining too hard underground.

Postojna Cave is huge, supposed to have over 20km of passages, with 5.3 km open to the public. The first 4 km or so of the tour is by electric train, and the rest is on foot. Although it is beautiful, the tour is quite the industrial tourist experience; there were about 400 people on the 11:00am tour, about a fourth of them were in the English-language group. With all the heavy rains outside, it was very drippy in the cave.

Then I headed a few miles down the road to Škocjan Cave.This cave was really interesting, slightly smaller but just as impressive. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, rare because the underground river that formed it is still there running through it, and you walk along the river (well, usually 100 feet above it) for about 500 meters. This cave is a lot less overrun with tourists, only about 40 people on the 3pm tour.

The rains continue, TV news has pictures of flooding, etc. The river that runs through the cave was at 10 m3/s yesterday morning (about 1000 cfs), fairly typical for this time of year. This morning it was 25 m3/s, and by the 3pm tour it was at 129 m3/s, yeah about 13000 cfs! It was a raging brown torrent through the bottom of the cave. That section of the cave is called "Murmuring Cave" cause of the water flowing through, bit today it was altogether different. The guide said with the forecast rain tonight, it was likely they would not conduct tours tomorrow because some of the lowest walkways would be submerged!

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