Thursday 13th October
A lovely peaceful night by the Grotte Gigante, it’s not really a proper sosta but it is so far from any habitation with few passerbys you’re just allowed to get on with it.
The Grotte Gigante is the largest cave open to the general public, the largest is in Malaysia, just in case you are wondering.
We arrived at the ticket office just before 11am right on time for the first tour of the day. At reception there were many displays of artefacts found in cave systems in the area, there are a few in this area, all with their own claim to fame.
About 15 million years ago water started seeping through the rocks, dissolving them away to form large caves. Our guide took us down the steps, and then down and down…
Only a third of the way down and we are amazed at the size of the place. We will be descending over 100m, there is a sign in reception saying “500 steps down – 500 steps up!”
Our guide spoke in Italian and English and explained the history, exploration and science behind everything in the cave systems. The Italian explanation took twice as long as the English vision, for some reason.
This is the main chamber. The two vertical lines are about 10” diameter plastic tubes with a weight hanging from a long wire inside. The wires are 96m long and are used by the University of Trieste to monitor movements of the earths crust. Not the vibrations from earthquakes but movements of the tectonic plates when the moon or sun orbit the earth exerting a pull and actually altering the shape of the earth. This is the first detector of it’s type and now one of just four spread across the planet.
The ceiling is about 100m above the floor of the cave and as water drips from the top it increases in speed and by the time it hits the top of the stalagmite below it just splatters in all directions. This is why the stalagmites here have flat tops.
This is the largest stalagmite in the cave system. It is growing at the rate of 1mm every 10 to 15 years and since it is 10m high we can deduce that this one is 100 – 150 thousand years old.
Due to the artificial lighting in the cave system there are now signs of plant and moss life. Seeds have been accidentally carried in on shoes and clothing.
New country for both of us. I went to the former Republic of Yugoslavia when I was a young lad (that was the year that Spain gave us no points in the Eurovision Song Contest so my dad cancelled the Spanish holiday and we went to Italy instead) and visited the caves at Postojna.
I’ve found a sosta in Slovenia that is €10 per night with free wifi. Looking at our Camper Contact there seem to be a choice of two types of sostas. Those that get a very poor rating even though they are very cheap because they are situated under motorway bridges or those that are in the €20 to €40 range which is a bit rich for us. Luckily I found one with a rating of 9.2 and costing €10
Looks alright, the services are very clean and usable, the bays are large and the view is great. Not only that but behind us is the Park of Military History. One entry ticket is included in the costa fee so we went for a visit.
Lots of tanks, Russian and US, things get a little mixed up with Slovenia but I’ll try my best to explain.
In 1921, just after the First World War Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia merged. After the second World War they gained some more territory from Italy and in 1946 a communist government was established under the leadership of Joseph Tito. Strangely Yugoslavia wasn’t controlled by the Russians and the US sent in huge numbers of tanks, guns and artillery as well as food to the starving Yugoslavians. The weaponry was to be used incase Russia decided to invade the west.
Tito died in 1980 and a rise of Nationalism created huge tensions between the various republics resulting in the war of Slovenian independence. If I recall correctly Serbia was one of the poorer republics and there was little option for young Serbs other than to join the army. The Yugoslavian army was seen as a Serbian army and tensions rose. All young Yugoslavs were expected to do some military training so when it came to war they had the training and the weapons left by the Americans to defeat the Yugoslavian army dn eventually declare independance. Obviously some of all that is completely untrue and I’ve made it up but you’re going to have to do some research to find out.
Unfortunately we had left it a bit late in the day to visit this museum and had to rush round. There is so much here that you could easily spend all day looking at warfare from the Ancient Greeks right up to the modern day.
Two US M3 light tanks, obviously the M3A1 is on the left and the M3A3 is on the right (I zoomed in and read it off the label – I haven’t got a clue about tanks, artillery, cars, planes…)
I can read M4A3 Sherman. What is nice is that you can touch and look in, just not climb on everything.
And an M2 155mm gun, this can fire a shell over 23km. There were British weapons here, a Bren Carrier was behind us and there were numerous examples of British rifles.
A Yugoslavian SOKO 522 air training plane which has been used in a couple big movies. They reckon it looks like a Me 109 from a distance.
Outside was a present from the Romanians to their friends the Slovenians.
The last bit we really did have to rush, it was dedicated to the war of independence with lots of films playing (with subtitles) and on the ground floor some of the hardware used. This Gazelle helicopter.
Pretty plane, it’s a MIG 21. The car is a Yugo which has been squashed by a T55 Russian tank. It was Russian, there were so many numbers I got confused.
See, a T55 or is it a T72, they are so similar and since both of them were here and you won’t know the difference.
The park of Military History was well worth a visit, allow more than the 90 minutes we had, if I could I’d go back with a picnic and spend all day there. Many of the tanks had drip trays underneath them which leads me to believe that they are still serviceable.
Beer of the day is Bierra Moretti as recommended by Giorgio. Far better than whatever it was I had yesterday but would it make me move to Italy? Non.
Dinner of the day was Pork curry with pineapple and basmati rice. We’ve nearly reached the end of when I went shopping in Germany and managed to buy 7 meals for €38 not realising that they were nearly all casserole type meals (all cooked from scratch, no packet mixes). I let Lucy go wild in an Italian supermarket today so we have rabbit food for the next week or two.