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Eastern Austria & Slovenia


August 23rd, 2022


Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked country in the southern part of Central Europe, situated at Eastern Alps. It is a federation of nine states, one of which is the capital Vienna, the largest city and state by population. The country is bordered by Germany to the northwest, the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia to the northeast, Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. It has a population of 9 million people.

Austria emerged from the remnants of the Eastern and Hungarian March at the end of the first millennium. As of the 16th century, Vienna began serving as the administrative imperial capital and Austria thus became the heartland of the House of Habsburg. Following the Empire’s dissolution in 1806, Austria established its own empire, which became a great power and the dominant member of the German Confederation. The Austrian Empire’s defeat in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 led to the end of the Confederation and paved the way for the establishment of Austria-Hungary a year later.

Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Emperor Franz Joseph declared war on Serbia, which ultimately escalated into World War I. The Empire’s defeat and subsequent collapse led to the proclamation of the Republic of German-Austria in 1918 and later the First Austrian Republic in 1919. During the interwar period, anti-parliamentarian sentiments culminated in the formation of an Austrofascist dictatorship under Engelbert Dollfuss in 1934. A year before the outbreak of World War II, Austria was annexed into Nazi Germany by Adolf Hitler, and it became a sub-national division. Following its liberation in 1945 and an extended period of Allied occupation, the country regained its sovereignty and declared its perpetual neutrality in 1955.

Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy with a popularly elected president as head of state and a chancellor as head of government and chief executive. Austria is consistently listed as one of the richest countries in the world by GDP per capita, one of the countries with the highest standard of living.

Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and of the European Union since 1995.  It also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the euro currency in 1999.

The Austrian flag has three stripes, two red and one white. The red stands for strength and bravery while the white stands for peace and honesty.

Currency: EU (currently more or less on par with USD these days)

Diesel price: €1.85 a litre which is about $7 USD a gallon

EU license plate letters:  A

Beer: Gosser

We crossed the border a bit earlier than we expected and hadn’t managed to fill up in Slovakia where it’s slightly cheaper than Austria.  We found a way not to drive right through Vienna to get north to our destination and it had no tolls.  We did stop at a gas station inside Vienna to pick up the required Austrian “toll vignette” though as the fine can be hefty if you get caught.  The shortest one you can buy is a ten day one that should do us as we are not going to see the entire  country – this cost €10; it just made sense to see the eastern part of Austria now as we are so close.

So we got to the Stift Klosterneuburg Abbey by early afternoon – our stop for today before parking for the night.

Klosterneuburg Abbey is a twelfth-century Augustinian monastery of the Roman Catholic overlooking the Danube, just north of the Vienna city limits.  The monastery was founded in 1114 by Saint Leopold III of Babenberg, the patron saint of Austria, and his second wife Agnes of Germany.

The impressive monastery complex was mostly constructed between 1730 and 1834. Its foundations, including a castle tower and a Gothic chapel, date back to the twelfth century.

The parking was all underground and we figured that if buses can enter there, we figured we could fit.  From the parking garage you weave your way around to the entrance without going back outside.

For €9 each we got entrance tickets which include the museum and the treasury and, of course, the outside areas – that was enough for us.  It came with an audio guide for the treasury room as everything is in German in there.  To visit the church you need to go on a guided tour but we opted not to do that.

We spent about 45 minutes touring both areas.

In the Treasury room we saw:

The Writing box of Saint Leopold (patron saint of Austria) which was made from a single piece of ivory in Islamic Spain  in the 10th century

The Chalice aka the ciborium with various etchings from Christ’s life including his 1st day at school

Two Ivory towers; one called “Fall of the angels” with  70 figures carved on it:

and the other called “Judgement day” with over 300 figures:

A coral piece of artwork was made in Sicily depicting Christmas:

The Archduke’s coronet:

A travelling altar of Saint Leopold with piece of St Agnes’ veil (his wife) in the bottom centre window

In the main room we saw a book called the “Abbey codex 826”:

We then found a way out to get outside and viewed the abbey from outside.

It was a nice stop but we wouldn’t say it’s a must.

In the town of Kritzendorf, 5km away, there is a free RV aire and we got parked there about 3:30.  It offers a dump station and fresh water as well as rubbish bins but nothing else but hey, it’s free.  It is right beside the train station that will take us to Vienna tomorrow so not super quiet but we can manage for a night or two.

We got parked, Doug went to check out the train ticket situation and then we had showers knowing we can fill up the tank before we leave.  Getting fresh water was an issue in Slovakia and Hungary – most gas stations don’t offer it and we’d been told others have had issues so we fill whenever we can.

After showers and dinner, we actually had a pretty good night’s sleep considering we were in a parking lot right next to the train tracks!

Wednesday morning we awoke to partly cloudy skies and it was a little cool.  We went over to the train station where we met an Italian couple, Alesandro & Lisa, whom we chatted with for a bit before catching the 12 minute train ride into Vienna.  This train is not part of the subway system trains but we were able to purchase a ticket for the two of us which also includes all the transit in the city for just under €20 for 24 hours.  Not bad at all and it works great for us as some of the sights we want to see are far apart.

Here in Vienna, there is still a great deal of mask wearing – more than we’ve seen anywhere in Europe – this is especially evident on the trains and in buildings but not all.

Yesterda,y Fran had purchased us tickets to the Spanish Riding School here in Vienna.  They do not have daily shows of the Lipizzaner stallions performing but you can watch a “training session”.  For $16 each we  were actually able to get seats on one day’s notice – although they were not the greatest seats but we got in and didn’t have to stand for the hour.

Our tickets were for ten am so before heading over there we checked out the grounds of the Belvedere Park which include both a Lower and Upper Palace:

and wandered past through the Ringstrasse area of beautiful buildings and get a quick brekkie at McDonald’s:

This beautiful fountain

And the National Opera House – you cannot make out how big it actually is but it’s an entire huge block.

We got to the Riding School in time.

The Spanish Riding School is an Austrian institution dedicated to the preservation of classical dressage and the training of Lipizzaner horses, based in Vienna, whose performances in the Hofburg Arena are also a tourist attraction. The leading horses and riders of the school also periodically tour and perform worldwide. It is one of the “Big Four” of the most prestigious classical riding academies in the world.

The riding school was first named during the Habsburg Monarchy in 1572 and is the oldest of its kind in the world. Records show that a wooden riding arena was first commissioned in 1565, but it wasn’t until 1729 that  the  white riding hall used today was built. Prior to that time, the school operated from a wooden arena at the Josefsplatz. For a time, the riding hall was used for various ceremonies, but it is now open to the public, who may witness the training and performances by the stallions.

The Spanish Riding School was named for the Spanish horses that formed one of the bases of the Lipizzan breed, which is used exclusively at the school. Today the horses delivered to the Spanish Riding School are bred at the Piber Federal Stud located near the village of Piber in the western state of Styria, Austria. One of the original studs used to develop the breed was Lipizza, now called Lipica, near Trieste, Italy (formerly part of Slovenia), which gave its name to the breed.

It is a common myth that the movements were developed to aid in battle; in fact, they were used to strengthen the war horse’s body and mind and make him a supreme athlete, not to actually attack. All movements are based on those naturally performed by the horse when at liberty, with the exception of one-tempi changes.

The riders, too, are carefully schooled. They first work on the longe without stirrups and reins on well-trained horses for up to 3 years, to teach a balanced and independent seat. They are then allowed to control the animals themselves, under the eye of an experienced rider, until they can perform the High School movements. With intensive training, this will take 2–4 years. The rider is then allowed to train a young stallion from unbroken up to High School, a process that usually takes 4–6 additional years.

Once we got seated Fran took a couple of pictures and quickly got told “no photos or video” so we have not much to share in that regard but on the way out, two stallions walked right by us outside:

When we were walking again later, we saw a video monitor that was showing some “trailers” to entice you to come in and we got this:

It’s now midday and as we’re walking we figure we should get some strudel while here in Vienna so Doug Googles “best strudel” and we lucked out that teh best one was very close. We walked over to Café Korb and shared a slice with some lemon water. It was yummy!

Other sights we saw were:

Mozart’s home:

The currently closed government house:

The Holy Trinity Monument in St. Stephen’s Square – which is a lovely pedestrian and shopping area:

St. Stephen’s cathedral:

Then it was on to Schonbrunn Castle just outside the main part of the downtown – for this we took the subway and there’s a stop right outside the grounds.

The grounds themselves are ginormous and consist of the summer place, gardens, walkways, fountains and a “gloriette” at the other end of the park that you can see from the palace.  We did not want to tour inside so this visit was free but could have gone not only the inside, but the special gardens, the zoo, a maze and more, all for a price, of course.  For us it was about seeing the grounds and the fountains which were spectacular!

The Obelisk Fountain was spectacular – built in 1777 :

Neptune’s Fountain was not too shabby at all:

Then it was on to take a ride on Vienna’s old Giant Ferris Wheel.   We got there via subway again.  That all day pass was a great buy.  It was built in 1897 and continues to run today.

Ferris wheel facts:

  • Height: 64.75 m / xxxx f
  • Diameter: 60.96 / 200’
  • Axles is 10.78 m long / 0.5 m thick / weighs 16.3 t
  • The Wheel weighs: 244.85 t
  • All iron structures weigh: 430.05 t
  • Turning speed: .75 m/s = 2.7 km/h

Fran had already purchased tickets online.  We took the subway once again and did not have to wait in the longish ticket lineup.  The line to get on the Ferris Wheel was short and within 5 minutes we were aboard.

While it’s not as big as the London Eye or the Linq in Vegas, it was kinda nostalgic and it was a nice way to get some views over the city however, it is not right in the old town nor is it on the Danube.  It’s actually in a large amusement park, which unlike, Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, we did not have to pay to enter to get to the Ferris Wheel.

It’s now getting later in the afternoon so we take the subway back into the centre of town and find a place to sit and have a beer or two on the plaza by St Stephens.  Man, that Gosser was good!  Doug was getting hungry too so he had a sausage dog  which he was rather disappointed in.

Then we returned to the subway and went back for the night.  Tonight there were a couple more RV’s here but no one home when we got back.

So Thursday morning the 25th, it was hazy, foggy and cloudy and we moseyed on south of Vienna using the toll roads to go faster but of course, there had to be an accident and things slowed up with about a 20 minute delay.

It’s interesting here when emergency vehicles begin coming through, they come up between the lanes and everyone stayed to the side until there is no longer a need.  (Later we actually saw the sign to enforce this rule.)

At least three went by us during this holdup and could speed through so easily.

Today we wanted to make one more stop in Hungary before going a bit west in Austria but not too far west as we are heading towards Croatia via Slovenia now.


The small city of Sopran sounded like a worthwhile stop for an hour anyway and we found a parking spot right by the Old Town but we had no Hungarian forints left and the machine only took change.  Fran saw the parking attendant who checks vehicles and he could speak German but not English.  He pointed her to the Western Union shop to get change after a bit of back and forth.  Now she figured that could be pricey so upon returning to Minou and Doug and saw he was chatting with a German couple who’d been able to exchange coins at a corner shop so she went and did the same and we got parking for an hour.

We walked into the Old Town with the idea to check out two things mainly: the Fire Tower and an old Benedictine Church.

The 13th-century fire tower was built with a 200-step spiral staircase to a balcony with views of the town.

We paid the small fee to climb up and get views of the city:

The church was right around the corner in the square below with a lovely fresco above the door and a goat for some reason well above the door:

And then we wandered the streets for 20 minutes or so checking out buildings.

On our way out, we came across some Roman ruins and the old city walls:


We turned back westward into Austria and drove to the small village of Thal, west of Graz.  Here is where Arnold Schwarzenegger was born and there is a small museum in his childhood home.  Doug visited while Fran stayed in Minou working on the blog; he’s not her cup of tea.

Doug really enjoyed this visit:

We then drove into the Graz on the outskirts, where there was one of the very few free parking lots in the city – it’s on the outside of a walled cemetery – part is pay parking near the buses then there’s a couple of dozen free spots before a larger section for coaches.  There were no spaces left but we squeezed into what might be considered a spot and waited for someone to leave which took about ten minutes and we moved over.  It wasn’t ideal but we were sure it was in fact a parking spot. We met a German man who had also just grabbed a different spot and spoke with him briefly; he was going north back home and had just been to Croatia.

We got more or less settled in the second spot and then watched the other side of the lot for when someone left while we read etc.  That took about 90 minutes and Fran rushed over to stand in it and Doug brought Minou over.  Here we could overhang the back of the vehicle rather than blocking a sidewalk with it.

It was a warm night and tomorrow the temps are back around 30 C / 87 F so no foreseeable cooling for a bit.

Daily tunnels – as we are back in “tunnel territory” – 21.

Friday morning we were up early due to traffic sounds and made our way on foot into the city around 8:30 – we walked the 3.8 km  in and saw this enroute:

Graz’s art museum:

Mur Island – a manmade island in the Mur River which you can access from either side via a pedestrian bridge – it has a small café and a graphics shop.

We then made our way over to Schlossberg – Graz’s main attraction outside of the old town.

Here we walked into a tunnel that had been a shelter during WWII for over 40,000 people from aerial attacks.  It’s over 6km long and has 20 entrances!

And paid to take the elevator up to the top of the Schloss hill; Fran also paid to come back down and Doug chose the Fairy Tale slide for his descent.

At the top you find a Clock Tower from the 12th century:

The Schlosberg Fortress including The Stall Bastion has retaining walls up to six metres thick and twenty metres high and building began in 1544.

The Turk’s Well was built between 1554 and 1556 and was dug 94 metres down to the Mur River!

The Bell Tower is 34 metres tall and was built in 1588 with a huge bell with a nearly two metre diameter and weighs 4632 kg / 10,211 lbs.   The bell sounds off 101 rings at 7am, noon and 7pm.

It was getting quite warm already so we didn’t wander too much as not only is it getting hot, there’s humidity as well which makes it way worse, especially for Fran.

We walked back to the elevator, Fran descended and waited for Doug at the bottom of the slide.

Here’s a video she took going down the elevator which shows the twisting slide.

Here’s a shot of Doug as he came out and the time it took him to come down.  He said it twisted one way, then the other and then a straight shot to the bottom and it’s pretty dark inside it.

his time

We then walked some of Graz’s pedestrian streets

Saw the main square and the town hall

Then some more streets before arriving at the cathedral and mausoleum:

The latter was quite impressive, the church not as much but it did have this lovely fresco behind glass which doesn’t show up well with a reflection on it we’re afraid:

The last stop was to see the Glockenspiel clock.  At 11, 3 and 6 every day it not only rings but two mechanical characters come out to music:

So after that we were hot enough and took an Uber back to Minou.  After having some breakfast, we began the drive towards Slovenia – we will return to Austria another time to see the rest.

Total Mileage in Eastern Austria:  234 km / 145 mi

(fun facts will wait until we come back!).


August 26th, 2022

Slovenia, officially the Republic of Slovenia is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, Croatia to the southeast, and the Adriatic Sea to the southwest.  Slovenia has a population of 2.1 million.  

Slovenia has historically been the crossroads of Slavic, Germanic and Romance languages and cultures.  Its territory has been part of many different states: the Roman, Byzantine, Carolingian Empires, the  Kington of Hungary, the Republic of Venice, and many more. In December 1918, they merged with the Kingdom of Serbia into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

The seven countries that made up the former Yugoslavia: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia  (we hope to visit them all)

During WWII, Germany, Italy and Hungary occupied and annexed Slovenia, with a tiny area transferred to the Croatia which was a newly declared Nazi puppet state. In 1945, it again became part of Yugoslavia which was allied with the Eastern Bloc, but after 1948, it never subscribed to the Warsaw Pact, and in 1961 it became one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement.  In June 1991, Slovenia became the first republic to split from Yugoslavia and become an independent sovereign state.

The three stars of the crest on the flag were inspired by the independence of Slovenia and the army of the Duke of Slovenia, Celje, which dates back to the 15th century.  The wavy blue stripe represents the rivers of the country.

Currency: EU – still more or less on par with USD

Diesel price: €1.64 a litre so about $6.20 USD a gallon

EU license plate letters: SLO

Beer: Lasko – another excellent beer

We crossed into Slovenia missing the entry sign due to a Toll Plaza where we were required to purchase a toll vignette for this country.  The minimum time is 7 days and that should be enough – cost €15.

We had a couple of small cities in mind to see but have to admit we are getting “old towned ” (?) out and decided to make a decision as to which one to choose in this eastern part.  It was between Ptuj and Celje and since Celje had the better overnight options, it won out.

It was toll road all the way to the city and we had another “aire” in our minds thanks to the park4nght app.  It has a free dump, bathrooms in the ice rink next door and a porta potty, a small parking charge (€2.50 from 6am to 3pm) and a place to plug in for a small fee based on usage.  There is free Wi-Fi from the nearby ice rink but it’s slow.  Not bad for a night or two.

We got parked, Doug went to find a bathroom after paying the parking and plugging us in.  Fran got stuff charging that needed it and began typing.

Around 4pm we walked over to the Old Town to take a boo and enjoy a cold one.

We are low on groceries and it’s too hot to cook canned food so Fran returned to Minou while Doug went and got us a pizza.  Slovenia is known to have very good Italian food and it did not disappoint

Tunnel count today:  4

Saturday morning the 27th, Doug went for a run – his butt is finally beginning to hurt less so that was good news.  On his return he offered to go see about getting laundry done and Fran found a self-service laundry in town and she stayed behind sorting photos – often a daunting and time consuming job.  Upon his return he made lunch and we decided to push on to the capital city, Ljubljana, as this afternoon’s weather forecast looked better than tomorrow’s.

Doug dumped the cassette; we got some water and left Celje to drive the 80 km / 50 mi or so into the capital city.  It was toll road all the way and pretty easy.  We weren’t sure if we’d stay the night or not but after a bit of back and forth, parked in a lot that allows it in case we did. After some confusion with how to get a parking ticket, we got parked.  It had not started raining as yet so we grabbed our new umbrellas and hoped for the best.  For a large city, there are not a lot of sights here and we hoped we could see it all in an hour and not get wet.

It was just over a kilometre walk to the Old Town and the sky was looking good one direction and bad in the other.  Fingers were crossed.

We walked to the first main square which has its own weather system!  It was only raining in this one circular area – it was fun to watch the kids trying to figure it out!

the overhead tiny sprinklers above

and here we saw the “Triple Bridge” off the same square which is hard to get a photo of from the ground, so here’s our and then one from our friend, Google:

We could see the castle atop the hill:

The church,

Another lovely pedestrian area across the river:

The Butcher’s Bridge full of padlocks of undying love and then we wandered the streets:  (we have no idea why it’s called that!)

We wanted to enjoy a drink riverside and found a place to have a couple of non-alcoholic ones saving our beer consumption for happy hour tonight.

We got back to Minou without getting wet and decided since it was already 4pm, we will just stay here for the night.

It began to rain about 30 minutes later but did not last more than 20 minutes and then it was on and off.  It was not as hot today and certainly not when the sun was not out but it was by no means as cool as we’d like.  Despite the forecast AGAIN saying rain all night, there was not a drop – just lots of trains going by near us.

Sunday began cloudy and misty, and we went to leave the parking lot and it turned out to be free!  We realized by this time that we were in the wrong lot for motorhomes – there are two lots here and the smaller one was what was pinged on park4night but there was no room for us when we arrived yesterday so we drove into the larger on and thought the circular sign with the picture of the motorhome on it with a red circle edging the sign, meant it WAS for motorhomes but after thinking about it more this morning and have no other RV’s parked with us we figure now it actually meant NO motorhomes but we got away with it!

Today we headed north to see Lake Bled – a popular tourist attraction with turquoise blue waters, an island in the lake AND a castle up on the hill said to be the most visited in the country.  The weather could be better, but hey, it can’t always be perfect.

Lake Bled is a glacial lake, 2120 m / 6955‘ long and 1380 m / 4528‘ wide.  There is a foot path all the way around that is about 6km / 4 mi long.  It is only lake with a natural island in it in Slovenia.  There are three public life guard manned beaches for swimming in its crystal clear water.

While the castle didn’t much interest us and as the town was touristy and expensive, we only want to see the lake and Fran’s sister, Cynthia, told us we should do the toboggan ride down the mountain so that’s why we went.  We weren’t sure the weather would hold but we went anyway.

We thought we’d start with going up to the castle parking and seeing what we could see and at the bottom of the road we saw a no motorhomes sign but we went anyway cause it was early and upon arriving the attendant confirmed that we were not supposed to come up there but he’d let us park if we wanted to visit the castle now as it was not busy yet.  We said no thank you, Fran shot this pic of the back side and we left.

We went down towards the lake and along it a bit and got much better views but as we were driving, they were not great so we decided to park up at the chair lift where we’d go up and do the toboggan ride and then hopefully get views from up there.  Well we were not allowed to drive down the last 600 metres of the route into the park in an RV so we carried on a bit further down the road and found a huge gravel lot (at the same expensive price: €10 for four hours) and parked.  It was less than a 15 minute walk up to the chair lift from there.

We knew the ride didn’t start until 10 and it’s just past 9:30 but we’d hoped that the chair lift would let us go up ahead – nope, we had to wait.  The ticket office opened just before ten and we were the first ones up.

Views on the chair lift: you can see the toboggan run:

We took a couple pics and then Doug got into the “toboggan” first.

Here’s a phone video Fran took of most of his ride down.

Fran waited until two others had gone done so that Doug had time to get off and then go over for photos and he caught this as she was on the bottom half of the run:

It was quite fun.  It’s a very windy track so you find yourself slowing down for the corners but it is said to go up to 40kmh!

We then walked down to the lake and went as far as we’d driven taking better photos enroute:

the glacial colour of the water
you can take a boat ride out to the island

the castle in the distance

The water colour was beautiful even without the sun shining and we were fortunate it never rained while we were there; the sun tried to come out a couple of times but never quite made it. It is cooler here, maybe 20C / 70F but it is supposed to warm up some over the course of the day.

Due to the forecast for rain all afternoon with higher percentages than yesterday, we decided to skip the drive to Lake Bohinji and rather drive back towards Ljubljana and on to the city of Postojni.  We took the toll road back but approaching the capital, we hit a huge slow down and took the next exit off.  We pulled into an almost empty supermarket parking lot, made breakfast and then got back on the freeway and the congestion was over.

We made it to Postojni before 2, got parked in a large free parking lot (away from trains and the highway) and decided to leave the attraction until tomorrow.  We also have to grocery shop (stores not open on Sundays) and really look for a place for an oil change before getting to Croatia in a few days.  We had shower and chilled.  Dinner was canned goods and grilled cheese!

Today we passed through 4 tunnels

We started today, Monday, going grocery shopping and then returned to the same parking lot where we’d overnighted and we walked over to our Cave Tour at the Postojna Caves (1.5 km / .9 mi) so as to avoid the steep parking fee there.  This is one of the largest cave systems in the world and it has a train that takes you into the heart of it!  This area including part of Italy is littered with caves (we are the blue arrow):

The greatest biodiversity of the subterranean world species is said to inhabit this cave system with 416 of them.  These caves are to cave dwelling animals, what the Amazon Rainforest is to tropical rainforest animals!

We arrived early so as to go and visit the Vivarium – a place where they show you some of the cave creatures that live in this area.  Our main focus was to see the olms.

The olm is an aquatic salamander, the only exclusively cave dwelling species found in Europe. In contrast to most amphibians, it is entirely aquatic, eating, sleeping, and breeding underwater. Living in caves it is endemic to the waters that flow underground through the extensive limestone bedrock of the karst of Central and Southeastern Europe with populations found in Italy and Slovenia.

It is also called the “human fish” by locals because of its fleshy skin color as well as “cave salamander” or “white salamander”. In Slovenia, after heavy rains, the olms were washed up from the underground waters and were believed by local people to be a cave dragon’s offspring, hence the name “baby dragons” by the locals. 

This cave salamander is most notable for its adaptations to a life of complete darkness in its underground habitat. The olm’s eyes are undeveloped, leaving it blind, while its other senses, particularly those of smell and hearing, are acutely developed. It also lacks any pigmentation in its skin. It has three toes on its forelimbs, but only two toes on its hind feet.

The olm’s body is snakelike, 20–30 cm (8–12 in) long, with some specimens reaching up to 40 centimetres (16 in). The average length is between 23-25 cm with females grow larger than males. The tail is relatively short, laterally flattened, and surrounded by a thin fin. The limbs are small and thin, with a reduced number of digits compared to other amphibians: the front legs have three digits instead of the normal four, and the rear have two digits instead of five.

The white skin color of the olm retains the ability to produce melanin and will gradually turn dark when exposed to light;

The female lays up to 70 eggs, each about 12 millimetres (0.5 in) in diameter, and places them between rocks, where they remain under her protection. The average is 35 eggs and the adult female typically breeds every 12.5 years. The tadpoles are 2 centimetres (0.8 in) long when they hatch and live on yolk stored in the cells of the digestive tract for a month.

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Our pics:

There were three aquariums and we were able to see four of them in here although through the glass it’s difficult to get a good shot.

Here’s a video of the birth and early life of an olm:

There were also other creatures – if you can make it out as it’s quite white and transparent:

We checked in for our English tour and boarded the train inside the cave.

The train ride goes pretty quickly and takes over ten minutes to get to the point where you get off and are really deep inside.

We thought it went a little fast as you could hardly take photos but then we realized how many formations there were in this cave system – it’s more than we’ve ever seen and we’ve done quite a few cave tours.

Our guide, Lana, got us all off the train, gave us the rules and regs, and we all walked up the “mountain” to the Russian bridge taking photos enroute.

The group was quite large – an entire train load – maybe 80 people and luckily when we got to stops where Lana spoke she had a mic although Doug found it had an echo.

We were taken through 3 large caverns after the bridge:

The Spaghetti Cave:

The White Cave:

The Red Cave:

Next was to see the two large columns:  one called “Brilliant” – completely white and the one next to it was more red – fascinating how two columns so close together could be so different.

We then strolled over to see a screen with a webcam showing an olm that had actually been born in captivity here in these caves – this has NEVER been witnessed before  nor has the mating ritual so this was pretty unique.

She walked us over to the aquarium that the olms were in but it was so crowded that we didn’t push it as we’d already seen them in the vivarium.  Of course, there were some idiots who used a flash despite being told not to – these creatures never see light so it was very stupid of them.  There must be alot of people that do this because some of these were quite dark looking.

Our final room was the concert hall that had a six second echo.

The tour ends with a train ride back out to the beginning.

It took nearly 90 minutes and we were quite happy with it; it wasn’t cheap €70 total for both the tour and the vivarium but we did something we’d never done so the price was worth the experience.

Enroute to walking back to Minou we stopped at tourist information to ask about a place that might give Minou an oil change.  The nice lady suggested two places but neither panned out.  Doug had found a Scania truck repair place about 30 km / 20 mi westward and even that place did not help us.  We saw that we were close to the large city of Trieste in Italy so we researched there and found two possibilities.


So totally unplanned we crossed into Italy and checked the auto mechanics out.  First place said “maybe tomorrow, I’ll call you in the morning if I can fit you in” and the second was a no but did suggest the one of the local Ford dealerships which we did find but they wanted €300 to do an oil change and lube!  Ridiculous – we thought the $200 we spent in Sweden was already ridiculous.  So we’ll keep looking or Doug will do it himself.

So in order to stay in Italy near the first place we went to, we decided to stay the night in nearby Muggia – a small quiet town on the Adriatic Sea.  This area used to be a part of Austria but over the year it joined Italy.

We found an overnight parking lot next to the sea and went for a walk after a local helped us pay the parking fee as it wouldn’t accept our credit card.  While we walked we could see dark clouds over the mountain on the other side of the harbour and could hear thunder from time to time.

The town is small but we found a place to sit and have a couple of beers after about 15 minutes of sweating.  It’s back above 30C / 86F today and not supposed to cool of much overnight which is not appealing! The rain never happened but the black clouds left and it was somewhat cooler – maybe 26 instead of 32! Every time the waiter brought another drink, we got more free snacks as well – three small bowls of different salty goodies.

Upon returning to Minou around 5 we decided to take a shower at the waterfront – they are only cold but it was worth being able to rinse off.  We changed into our suits as the showers are not private although they are indoors. .  As we got to the beach Fran decided, what the heck, she’s going for a dip.

The beach is large pebbles so we she kept her beach flops on (we have now water shoes with us) and made it to the point where she could swim.  Ah, it was SO refreshing that she convinced Doug to come in too.  We felt so much better and then we showered and washed our hair before returning to Minou.

We opened all the windows and vents and it became bearable inside Minou.  After dinner and relaxing time, we left all the windows open and went to bed.  Fran used her fan but it was certainly not as bad as we expected.  We are worried about continuing south and the warmer weather but are seriously considering getting an AirBNB type place for a week once we get into Croatia and out of the Schengen to relax and slow down.

Today we passed through 5 tunnels

We had a pretty quiet night for a parking lot and got out of there before 8 when we’d have to pay more.


Our plan was to cross back into Slovenia and visit the town of Piran only 30 away so we’d be closed enough to come back if the truck shop called us to come in as we won’t have border crossing issues.

We arrived near Piran before 9 and parked about 2km outside the city as we’d read the streets are very narrow and there are many roads motorhomes are not allowed on.  Unfortunately it was up high which meant walking down, but the views at the first parking area were wonderful

It was quite sloped here so we move about 750 m further and found a flat pay parking lot; it showed no motorhome parking but others had chanced it so we did.  We used an app to pay and then walked into the town.  (Parking apps are great cause you can add time or stop early if you need to.)

It’s a pretty town made so more by the fact that is’ on a peninsula and the boardwalk allows you to walk along the sea.  We meandered through the narrow city and made it to the main square.

We made our way to the seaside walkway and there was a lovely breeze.

We walked back into the main square to the tourist info to get information about a “free bus” to get back but that bus does not go up to where we are parked.  There is a city bus that does but it only departs four times a day.

We then walked up to the church above the city to see it and get views around us.

We walked back on the seaside walk on the other side of the peninsula  and before climbing up the hill, we stopped at a beachside café for cold drinks right on the sea.  Ah, the breeze was fantastic and so welcome.

After cooling off we trekked back up the hill to Minou.  It’s now 11:30 and we’ve not had a call from the mechanic but don’t want to cross the border until noon in case he does call….so we found a parking about 4 km before the border in the shade facing the salt plant:

We waited until noon without getting a call and left.

Bye, bye to the Schengen for now!

Total Mileage in Slovenia:  494 km / 306 mi

Fun facts about Slovenia: 

  1. Slovenia is shaped like a chicken
  2. This country is home to 8,000 caves. However, only 20 of them are open to visitors.
  3. There are more than 46 dialects in Slovenia
  4. There are 5 beekeepers per 1,000 inhabitants
  5. Slovenia has many vineyards. There’s a vineyard for every 70 people
  6. Slovenia has nearly 30,000km of rivers and streams
  7. More than 61% of the total land area is covered in forest
  8. The first married couple to reach the Mount Everest summit was Slovenian: Marija and Andrej Štremfelj
  9. The Slovene swimmer Martin Strel, was the first man to successfully swim the Amazon.
  10. Slovenia has the oldest wheel. The so-called Ljubljana Marshes Wheel dates back at least 5150 years.
  11. Slovenia is the only country in the world that has the word love in its name.
  12. In 1995, archaeologists dug up the Divje Babe Flute, which is a flute made of the femur of a bear, which is believed to be 55,000 years old.