Slovenia: Part II

Predjama Castle was first built in the 13th century, just inside the natural archway of the caves.  It was a brilliant defensive location, and gradually over the next several hundred years it was expanded.  We walked through the castle and I was able to get an audio-guide in English.  The most famous owner of the castle was Erazem, who during the 15th century had made himself an enemy of the Roman Emperor by killing the commander of the Imperial army to avenge the death of a friend.  In retaliation the Emperor ordered Erazem be capture and killed.  The castle was besieged but its strategic location made it impenetrable.  Thinking he would starve them out, the leader of the army waited and waited.  But the castle caves had a secret passage through the mountain and Erazem was able to continuously get supplies from a nearby town  The town was on the opposite, milder side of the mountain where the cherries ripened earlier in the season.  Erazem sent gifts of cherries to the enemy soldiers, who were sure he was using dark magic because there was no other explanation for where the cherries could come from when the nearby cherry trees were clearly still ripening.  Eventually, Erazem was betrayed by one of his servants who accepted a bribe and informed the enemy that the toilet was the weakest part of the fortress, and that Erazem used the toilet at the same time every evening.  Sure enough, a catapult launched a cannonball at the appropriate time, and Erazem was killed.  

Moving on.  

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The castle was actually a pretty miserable place to live, aside from being very secure. It was dark, damp and really cold in the winter. When the castle was under attack all the windows had to be boarded up and there were only candles and fires for light.

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The view from the castle. The village of Predjama, and the beautiful countryside. Apparently during the castle’s glory days, all the trees on the surrounding hills were cut down to make a clear view of the surrounding valley, lest any enemies sneak through the forest.

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The original outer castle wall, before the larger and more elaborate castle was built. Sometimes it was hard to tell where cave walls ended and man-made walls began.

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Hello.

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There was a stream that flowed through the valley and down to the foot of the castle, but it wasn’t entirely reliable so water could also be collected from the cave walls through a clever system of collecting “tarps”, drains and cisterns.

From the castle we drove two or three hours north to the town of Bovec.  Oh my goodness.  This place.  I kept commenting to Sanja that Slovenia reminded me a lot of Idaho, but with more trees and more vibrant rivers.  The drive to Bovec was incredibly scenic, and I wanted to ask Sanja to pull over every fifteen minutes so I could take pictures, but I was too shy so I didn’t.  (And I knew we would never get there if I did.)  It was just these hills covered in dense trees, every shade of evergreen you could imagine, and then these blue mountains, always thinly masked by some wispy white clouds.  All along the way we would pass sheep pastures and farms, brightly painted bee houses (Sanja told me that Slovenia is well-known for it’s bee keeping and honey) and of course quaint towns.  Oh, and we drove along the Soca (pronounced So-cha) River.  You might remember it from this: 
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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Filmed near Bovec)

It was a national holiday that day so when we drove into Bovec it was pretty quiet.  We found our hostel, checked in, parked the car and then decided to try to walk to the river.  I was hungry so we made a quick stop at a gas station (desperate times…) but we weren’t sure of the way to the river.  There was only one time that Sanja ever played my tourism card, and it was at this gas station.  She made me ask how to get to the river, which was pretty ineffective but apparently, a really nice [looking] German man over heard me, he and his wife pulled over a ways down the road and offered to drive us to the river.  The 15 minutes it took to drive to the river is a story in and of itself, that involves two Germans, one Slovenian and one American doing their best to communicate, but I’ll have to share it with you in person.  Good laughs and good memories.   I will note- we were eating ice cream bars (dinner of champs) when the couple offered to pick us up and only Sanja had the good sense and good manners to ask if it was alright if we ate our ice cream in their car.  I hope that doesn’t make me a rude American. 
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I LOVED how it was a thing to put flowers in window boxes on all the houses. It was so bright and welcoming. All over Slovenia, flowers, flowers, flowers.

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Those hazy blue mountains that stole my heart.

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The river Soca.

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I love rivers. Two of my most peaceful places are the Snake River where it silently runs through the woods near Richard’s grandparents cabin in Island Park, and the same river, all the way across the state, south of Kuna at Celebration Park. I love the Boise River. I love the Salmon River. I love the Thames too, and the Seine and the Rhine, but I do prefer rivers in mountains.

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Ahhh dusk.

When it started to get dark enough that we worried about finding our way home we walked back across the grassy field that was the local airport landing strip, and back to the hostel.  We watched Narnia just to feel cool that we were there, but we both fell asleep.  

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