Croatia & Slovenia 2016 Day 12 – Rovinj to Porec, border crossing, visit Postojna Cave and Predama Castle to Ljubljana

The day started with the same preparations. However, we would be leaving Croatia for Slovenia, which was a cross border drive and change of accommodation. After we were done packing, it was already 10ish by the time we were about to leave. The morning exercise of moving the luggage into the car boot through the gravel made me sweat in the morning. As I made my way out of the gravel driveway, my miscalculation caused the front bumper of the car to scrape the walls but thankfully it wasn’t too bad and the landlord quickly tried to guide my bulky car out.

Bakery along Ul. Stanke Pauletića

View of old town from street near Airbnb

Breakfast

Our first and important destination was to get to a petrol station (Bought ours at Petrol station @ BRAĆE BOŽIĆ 14, link to point of sales in DARS webby) to purchase a vignette as it was required for highway usage in Slovenia, unlike in Croatia where we could pay tolls. The highways had cameras in place to check on cars and therefore it would be unwise to risk crossing the border before purchasing one. Earlier I had researched the authorized station was actually really close to where we stayed and it was also closed to the hypermarts that we had visited earlier before. Went to the cashier and asked for the vignette (there were also indications on the counters informing that they were selling vignette) and it cost 116kunas, which I paid in euro and realized later it costed more. The cashier helped punched in the date before handing over the vignette that I promptly pasted on the windscreen on the drivers side.

Vignette for Slovenia

Mommy realized that she left an ice pack behind and at the same time, we received a Whatsapp from the landlord informing us too and so I made a detour back quickly to pick up the ice pack. This time around, I didn’t have any issues getting out of the driveway.

Our last Croatian stop was a small coastal town of Porec, 1hr drive away. It had the similar look and feel of Rovinj, only smaller in size. We arrived at a large parking lot and left the car there before taking a short walk to the old town, wherein the Euphrasian Basilica, a UNESCO site, could be found. We first explored the surroundings of the old town for a bit before finally visiting the cathedral as we were pondering if we should spend the final kunas on the entrance fees, 40 kunas per person.

Another coastal town, Porec

Streets of the old town

A piece of history still standing

The basilica had quite a couple of places to visit and had many interesting mosaics on display. We couldn’t missed the bell tower, the latest fascination that baby K had for bells. Upon climbing to the top, we were able to see the surrounding sight of Porec old town. But the most interesting experience was to see and hear the bells go off at 12noon, loud but definitely memorable. Then it was more mosaics on the floors out in the open and in the crypt before we left the location. Before leaving Porec, we decided to draw some kunas to pay for the parking and for contingencies and got 200kunas (minimum sum) from the ATM. Parking was just a mere 20kunas.

Entrance to the basilica

Intricate carving on pillars

Inner compound of the basilica

Modern algae about to cover over the mosaics

Bells that got my kid excited

Tickets to the basilica

Museum

Exhibits in the museum

Compounds within the basilica

Mosaics of a fish

Crypt where mosaics can be seen

Beautiful mosaics filled the underside at the altar

We kinda liked the Croatian cookies that we bought in Zagreb and thought that it would be great to bring some home for families and friends to eat. So we drove to a nearby Billa. I had an issue trying to get a carpark ticket to enter but I couldn’t. In the end I just entered without the ticket. As I tried to find the Medenjaki, there weren’t any available either so I returned to the car. Baby K was already having his lunch as it was already afternoon but the parents had to make do with some snacks first. Without the carpark tickets I was forced to drive out through the entrance when there were no cars entering.

Before we crossed over to Slovenia, I drove to a gas station to fuel up my car which I paid with credit card as it should have been cheaper to do so in Croatia then its neighbour. Then its couple of minutes drive from the highway petrol station to the border which we got our passports stamped and cleared within 10 mins. Just immediately past the borders was an exchange (with an obvious exchange word prominently placed) where I received 23euros for 190kuna. Vignette was sold there as well.

Thought we would grab some lunch along the way and as we drove along  towards Postojna, we saw pizza grill sign next to Ristorante Gostilna Belvi (@ Salara while travelling on E751) and went into the open yard carpark. Went to the restaurant to ask if they do takeaways (as expected from a pizza grill) and found that they didn’t sell pizzas. Dumbfounded and thought I must have gone to the wrong place and walked to another building a level below and asked around. People there said it should be the restaurant where I asked previously. I gave up and we were on the road again.

Pizza grill next Ristorante Gostilna Belvi

Panoramic view near the restaurant was not too bad.

It wasn’t long before the small road merge into a faster highway. One good thing about highways were the presence of service stops, which we got into one en-route. I parked the car in the carpark behind the huge service stop and bought a sandwich and a pizza which we ate in the car (since baby K was snoozing). Then it was on the road again to Postojna.

Lunch from the service stations

As baby K was still asleep, I decided to quickly drive to Predjama Castle first which was furthest inland from the main highway. I parked at a obscured carpark as the main one was full and briskly walked to the castle to take some photos. Nothing like seeing with my own eyes, a castle built within a cave mouth. It’s a pity that we couldn’t spend any more time to explore the castle grounds. Quickly went back to the car for our last stop of the day.

Predjama Castle

Postojna cave was 10km away from the castle. We parked at huge carpark and proceeded to entrance to buy tickets, hoping to catch the last train, literally. Tickets costed 28.8 euros for 3 persons, 1 euro for baby K. Our train was scheduled to leave at 5pm and thus we visited the toilet and bought some drinks to quench our thirsts and put on some warm clothing for ourselves and baby K, as the cave was expected to be cold. There was an audio guide available with the tickets. A large crowd gathered at the entrance of the cave, all waiting to visit it. This wasn’t our first cave but it was surely baby K’s one.

Ticketing counter

Audio guide that came along

Steps to the entrance of the cave

Last train crowd at the cave entrance

Tickets!

The cave temperature was at a balmy 10DegC and it was indeed chilly on the small but long open top train as it travelled deep into the cave. The visit was a 1.5hr guided tour including 2 train rides and a 1.5km walk. The walk had a guide to lead us to the various locations in the cave and the audio guide helped to explain what we were looking at, but all seemed the same to me since I couldn’t listen to the guide as I carried baby K and had to depend on mommy’s selective explanations. The cave was huge, having many levels, different chambers and even got a gift shop inside the cave where we bought some souvenirs. After the train ride out, we hurriedly left Postonja for a 45mins drive to Ljubljana, stopping to visit a supermarket Spar before hitting the highway.

Small open top train

Stalactite and stalagmite

Different shapes and sizes

And colours

Different “halls”

Natural pillars

Proteus on display

Shop in the cave

Dusk, near the Postojna Cave

Spar before going to Ljubljana

As informed by the landlord, her friend would be meeting us instead and was already waiting for us when we arrived at 745pm (we were late for 45min). As with all old towns, it was again difficult to drive into the parking space so I had to reverse into the compound.

After I was done with parking right next to the flower pots just outside the ground floor apartment, the representative showed us around the Airbnb apartment which had a lot of other things complementary such bicycles and baby pillows. There were even free Slovenian beers!

Open concept bedroom

Toilet

Storage near the entrance with bicycles!

Kitchen

As Mommy cooked, I went to the old town to buy dinner, bought Slovenian cuisine pork cutlet and potato for 18.8 euros at one Aroma restaurant. At the restaurant there was a certain protocol of order, I could only order from waiter, not receptionist or bar tender as I found.

Green castle at night

Water fountain

Aroma Restaurant behind the fountain

Inside the restaurant

The night view of Ljubljana was beautiful, unlike modern Singapore that were brightly lit everywhere, Ljubljana gave the feeling being back in the days of knights and dragons, the green illuminated castle on top of the hill reinforcing that image. Though not so brightly lit, there were many people around, it felt safe.

View of the river running through at night

Many people can be seen walking at night

Congress Square at night

Church near Congress Square

Dinner, potato and eggs

Mains

We had our cold but delicious dinner back at the Airbnb. Ended the night with a bath for baby K and a nice (free) Slovenian beer.

ziyi

About ziyi

A travel addict from the little red dot otherwise known as Singapore. Started blogging during travel to help the aging forgetful mind remember the experience of each destination.

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