Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
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Castle in a cave … plus bonus extra cave

[I’ve decided to increase the size of the pictures I include on these pages, since I figure it involves probably only a few extra KB, which ain’t that much in the grand scheme of things. I suspect it’ll mess up the page layout, but that was always pretty random anyway.]

The conference program included a half-day excursion on Wednesday afternoon, and the one I selected involved heading out into the Slovenian karst country (karst is a particular kind of limestone landscape, featuring caves and sinkholes and so forth). This turned out to be a good choice for a variety of reasons, not least of which was that it was a stinking hot day, thus making being inside caves even more appealing than usual.

The first place we visited was Predjamski Grad (Predjama Castle). This is built up against and into a cliff face that is riddled with caves. These caves contain remains of fortifications and tunnels that predate the 16th century castle buildings. The photo at right shows the castle and cliff, together with what I presume is a tilt-yard for jousting in the foreground (I’m not sure if this is authentic or a restored remnant of something authentic or a later addition for the gratification of contemporary tourists).

The site was occupied by the knight/robber baron Ezerem Lueger in the 15th century, and he used the cave system to escape from the castle site out into the country-side to fetch food. Legend has it that he was betrayed by one of his men, who gave away the site of the lavatory into which the opposition bombarded a cannon-ball or stone from a trebuchet/catapult thingy thus killing poor unfortunate Ezerem and provoking snickers from the extremely sensitive and compassionate tourists to whom this story was told. (Between the vagaries of legend and the unreliability of my memory, any resemblance between this account and the actual facts of the matter is purely a fluke … apart from the bit about the snickers, which is definitely true.)

The photos below show other parts of the castle and cave. The second of the two photos looks out of the entrance visible above the castle in the photo above right, and there is a passageway disappearing back up into the hillside behind where I was standing to take the photo. Although it was very pleasant inside on this warm summer day, apparently it was not much fun to be a resident in winter time.

Our other stop was at nearby Postojnska Jama (Postojna Cave). This massive limestone cave is one of the biggest in Europe. It’s so big that there’s a “little” electric train (kind of like a set of rollercoaster carriages, carrying about 60 people at a time) that takes you in the first 4km or so. Then there’s a walking tour of about 1km or so through caverns and passages, with all the usual limestone cave formations (including a spaghetti ceiling of tiny white stalactites). The second last stop of the walk is the cavern in the first of the photos below, which houses a big aquarium (barely visible in the lower middle part of the photo) containing a few specimens of “human fish”, which is a blind, white salamander kind of thing about 25cm long which is native to the caves in the area (technically it’s an Olm or a Proteus). The final stop before boarding the train for the journey back out was the massive cavern shown in the second photo, which is so huge it has apparently hosted concerts with audiences of up to 10000 (OH&S rules mean the permitted number is now only about 5000). You can just make out people and their shadows/reflections in the far distance, as well as the two near people on the right.

Time constraints meant that we were a little rushed, but it was an interesting afternoon.

3 comments to Castle in a cave … plus bonus extra cave

  • Linda

    What an amazing place! One of the only things I remember from primary school excursions is that “when the ‘mites come up the ‘tites come down” – not bad for 6 years of education! Am enjoying travelling with you in Slovenia, while picnicking with someone else on Beachy Head,and leaving my sleeping bag on a felucca in Egypt with my cousin. And I’m about to go to Japan too. Can’t beat vicarious travel with friends that share!

  • Wow. What a cool castle! I love that first picture.

  • WOW!! I’d sit through a conference on maths education for this!!

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