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Circling the Adriatic Slovenia: Predjama and Piran



In the mid afternoon we arrived at Predjama Castle. When I had first started researching Slovenia, pictures of this castle came up frequently and I had marked it as a must see. Apparently, no one knows when the first structure was built in the Predjama cave but the current castle was constructed more than 400 years ago. The castle is kept in excellent condition and looks as though it is growing out of the mouth of the cave. The cave and huge cliff behind the castle provide for security against a sneak attack as well as a last resort of escape. We strapped the kids into the carriers and clambered up steep flights of stairs to the highest level of the castle, and into the cave behind it.
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After Predjama I briefly considered trying to get to the other major cave system, Skocjan, but we would have had a tough time making the 4PM tour and I didn't want to be late getting into our next accommodation so I nixed the idea. I had some regrets about it though, since the Skocjan caves seemed to be more impressive than Postojna in the pictures. I consoled myself by resolving to come back to Slovenia when the kids are older to do more cave explorations, hang out in Ljubljana, and discover other areas of Slovenia such as Lake Bled and Ptuj. Overall, my experience with Slovenia led me to conclude that it is one of the great undiscovered treasures of Europe (at least by Americans). Anyone looking for a vacation filled with beautiful countryside, caves, castles, postcard-perfect cities, and delicious food at half the cost of staying in Rome or Paris would do well to consider Slovenia. I would be thrilled to spend another three weeks in Vicenza, Padua, Venice, and Slovenia when my youngest kid is old enough to enjoy and remember the trip.

We returned to the Adriatic to explore the Istrian peninsula, which is mostly Croatian except for a little strip of Slovenia that separates Italy from Croatia and gives Slovenia a short coastline. At the westernmost part of this strip is a peninsula that looks like a hand giving a thumbs up. Piran is the thumb, and our Airbnb was close to the thumbnail. Outsiders' cars are only allowed inside the old town for 15 minutes to drop bags and passengers, but there's a large parking garage and a shuttle bus not far from the gate. I located our landmarks and met our host's Mom, who opened the apartment for us so I could drop off Mei Ling, the kids, and the bags. I rushed back to the car and barely made it out under the 15 minute wire. I parked and took the shuttle back into town. After unpacking and stretching our legs a little in the narrow pedestrian streets, we made a list of restaurant candidates and headed for the closest. We couldn't find the first, and the second had an unimpressive look and menu, so we ended up walking almost all the way back to the town gate to Pri Mari, the Lonely Planet's top choice. The inside was full, but there were tables in an adjacent breezeway that were comfortable and atmospheric. The food made us glad that we hadn't found an acceptable restaurant closer, as the seafood was outstanding and the truffles of high quality. It ended up being one of the ten best meals of our entire trip. On the way home, we stopped to admire the well-lit main square Tartinijev trg.
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The next day we visited the small town market to self-cater lunch, which we ate on the steps outside of the butcher shop.
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We made a valiant attempt to explore the old town with the gondola, but eventually the irregular ground and frequent staircases proved too much for us, so we followed a road back down to sea level.
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We spent another pleasant hour around Tartinijev trg and the harbor area before I collected the car and we embarked for Croatia, the fourth country of our trip.
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Posted by zzlangerhans 07:02 Archived in Slovenia Tagged castle piran predjama Comments (1)

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