Monday, May 28
Today we left beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park and traveled to Opatija, which is on the coast of northern Croatia. While on the route our tour guide, Branko, pointed out an island called Krk. Someone on the bus asked him if he wanted to buy a vowel. Missing vowels everywhere! I've noticed the architecture of the buildings has changed alot and looks more Austrian. Opatija is a cute, small coastal town and was and still is the vacation spot for wealthy Eastern Europeans. I walked the waterfront promenade, Lungomare, and soon our group was on it's way to Slovenia.
The border crossing into Slovenia was uneventful & this time I did get a stamp in my passport (did not get one in Montenegro), and we traveled to Postojina (poh-STOY-nah) Caves. Since the whole Adriatic Coast seems to be limestone, there are many caves. In this part of Slovenia there are 2 large cave systems: Skocjan (SHKOHTS-yahn) and Postojna (the one we visited). Postojna is the biggest cave system in Slovenia with more than 12 miles of caves. There is a small train that takes you in about 1 1/2 miles, then you walk another mile making
a circle, and get back on the train to take you back out. The cave is much bigger than this, and what we saw was pretty spectacular.
Unfortunately we didn't have time to go to the Lipica Stud Farm which is the place they breed and raise Lippizaner horses. We had alot of driving today, so we left the caves we new Slovenia souvenirs and traveled onward to Lake Bled. While traveling Branko told us more about the breakup of Yugoslavia. I think I mentioned in a previous entry that Kosovo was another country from the breakup. Well, even though Kosovo declared itself independent only some of the world recognized that (I don't know where the U.S. is on that). Slovenia was the first country to declare independence, and since they were ethnically "clean", there was only an 11 day war before treaties were signed. Croatia followed by declaring its independence and since they were not ethnically "clean" and had Croats and Serbs, all hell broke out. Bosnia was caught between Croatia & Serbia with Bosniaks, who are Muslim due to the Ottoman empire, and Bosnia suffered alot during the wars. Kosovo has mostly Albanians and they don't
want to be part of Serbia, which is why they wanted independence.
It was a huge mess, millions died, and people who once lived as neighbors now hate each other. Our bus driver has a Serb father, Croat mother, and he lives in Croatia. Branko is Slovenian. Branko said the description of the breakup of Yugoslavia in the Rick Steves book is accurate and unbiased.
We arrived at beautiful Lake Bled. After dinner I walked partway around the lake, and thunderstorms hit. It's very Austrian looking and is a popular resort place.
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