ALL THE THINGS
HIRSH AND SARAH'S ADVENTURES THROUGH "GREATER EUROPE"
WHERE WE HOPE TO EAT, SEE, AND DO
ALL THE THINGS THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE HAS TO OFFER
We left Ljubljana this morning to drive about an hour and a half to Škocjan Caves in Divača, Slovenia. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986, this is the largest cave system in Europe. The Reka River flows through the cave and during heavy rains, the river rises high enough to wash out the pedestrian walkways inside. Since photos aren't allowed inside the cave (probably to keep people from falling to their death while taking selfies), check out these Internet images of the cave's interior with the elevated walkways. It's really massive and worth a visit, as long as you aren't afraid of heights!
After spending about two hours at the cave, we drove to the picturesque mountain town of Bled. This town is known for its beautiful lake and the church perched on the island in the middle. Legend has it that if a groom carries his bride up the 99 stone steps to the church on their wedding day, then rings the church bell and makes a wish, they will be blessed with good luck. The Rick Steves video covering Bled has coverage of actual couples doing just that on their wedding day, and it's quite entertaining.
Unfortunately, we visited this pretty little town on a dreary, rainy day. We still had fun though, and even with grey skies we could see the beautiful turquoise hue of the clean and clear mountain water.
Hirsh found the "municipal swan."
Instead of making you imagine the town on a sunny day, enjoy this borrowed Google image...
That was all the sightseeing for this day. We got back on the road for what was supposed to be a 2.5 hour drive to our hotel in Forstau, Austria. What we didn't expect was the 6 hour cluster of a drive it turned into, with massive traffic delays getting through the single lane border tunnel and across into Austria. All's well that ends well, because we made it to our comfortable family-run ski lodge, Alpengasthof Draxler, and received the warmest welcome from hosts that were entirely too forgiving of us showing up 2 hours after check-in closed. 😄
The view from our room!
On our second and final morning in Budapest, we started off with a Danube River cruise. If you have fantasies of a huge, romantic cruise ship with that catchy commercial music playing in the background, let me quickly dispel that image. For about €5 each the day before, we had purchased 24-hour public transportation passes to get around the city. This pass covers subways, buses, and public boats and it ended up being a great value. Our passes were going to expire at 2pm today, so of course we had to use them to the fullest. You know Hirsh. What better way to avoid wasting money than taking a cruise to see the Parliament Building for the tenth time? When our boat arrived, covered in rust and listing dangerously to one side, Sarah said "That's a government boat if I've ever seen one." It certainly was.
We cruised all the way past the Parliament Building to the next dock, disembarked from the boat, and then waited to board the next boat traveling in the opposite direction. We then hopped off at the Parliament dock and walked all around the building. It really is very pretty. Travel all the routes and enjoy all the views!
For our last adventure in Budapest, we had to figure our way out of an escape room! We had heard of friends doing this in other cities, and we decided to do it here because the concept was invented in Budapest. Here's how it works: you're locked in a room for one hour with almost no direction whatsoever, and you have to use common sense and critical thinking to solve various puzzles which ultimately unlock the room's door. Usually, this is done in groups of 4-6 people, but the two of us managed to escape from the room just in time! We are, however, still haunted by an algebra problem that took us way too long to solve (especially since we both love math).
On the walk back to our hotel, Hirsh stopped for a photo in front of the Opera House.
Then we hit the road for a 4.5 hour drive to Ljubljana, Slovenia, famed for being the once hometown of Melania Trump. Actually, it's famed for other reasons, like being cute and vibrant and being home to a very cool dragon bridge.