Still in Slovenia but close to Zagreb, Croatia. 11th July 2007.

It will come as no surprise for you to hear that my computer finally gave up the ghost. Well, more later.

In the morning after my stop at the super view, it was much the same, just a touch of mist.

 

I reached Idrija because I wanted to see the mercury mine. While awaiting the next tour I had a look around the castle and OK exhibits. Pretty courtyard. The total amount of mercury produced at the local mine, I was to find out later, was about a cube 20 metres square, about enough to fill the courtyard, below. I got the usual super friendly help at the tourist office that I have been getting everywhere. More about Tourist Offices later too.

Mercury mines look pretty much like any other mine.

They dug 700 km of tunnels here to get to the mercury. That's around 500 miles. They started in the 1500's when mercury was already valuable, the alchemists thought all metals were based on mercury and sought ways to convert it into gold. Didn't work. Usually it was mined as ore but sometimes small droplets of mercury were found.

I keep mixing up my y's and z's. Well, I don't use z very often, but I do use y. We - English speakers - are used to a qwerty keyboard. I am already thrown out by the French keyboards which are azerty, then my Italian keyboard which has qwerty in the right place but has other odd keys around, keys such as del are titled in Italian (canc), and now I am using a Slovenian keyboard which is qwertz (with z and y reversed) but the keys, such as pause, although sometimes oddly placed, are at least written in English . Fortunate, maybe that I am not a touch typist but rattle along with one finger. Hey even with one finger I can type faster than I can think. When the keys are in the right place that is. Now I have to look around. Backslash (/) is on shift 7, and @ is on alt v.

Ah. You've guessed. I was going to keep it until later. I had to buy a new computer.

After the mercury mine visit I asked at the tourist office where I could park for the night. Well, anywhere she says, it's a safe town. Now somebody just told me that. Ah it was in Cerkno, young lady in the electrical shop, where I bought plugs and a memory stick for the computer. She'll have her own shop in two months she told me, when she finishes university, studying management.

After some discussion she - tourist office she - thought near the sports centre would be away from the traffic in the town. What she didn't allow for was the fact that seemingly half the population are health fanatics and head out to the park to do a bundle of exercises then go running around the paths. Until late evening then starting again at 6 am. She probably wasn't aware either that about 200 scouts were having a mini jamboree just alongside the car park.

Next to the car park a lady had a rather special flower garden. This is just a corner.

Next morning I took a drive up the local park.

As usual it was full of cyclists pedaling up and presumably free wheeling back down. I don't understand this. I see cyclists pushing up high passes everywhere. Especially I saw them in Italy. Young and old, racing bikes and mountain bikes. I suppose it must be for some feeling of conquest. Maybe they want to get fit. Or maybe they are just masochists.

I was planning to visit the cave at Postojna, with 20 km of tunnels, and the most visited show cave in Europe. 30 million visitors in the last 185 years. I'll remind you, the total population of Slovenia is 2 million........

But there was a festival. Postojna's annual festival, with free music.

You can't actually tell from the photo but they were about the strangest looking bunch of people I have ever seen. They were a comedy group. Later I watched a military band playing oompa oompa oompa music. Quite well actually, including the oompa oompa version of The Saints.

I watched a blacksmith shoeing a horse. Now, my grandfather was a blacksmith, I've had a couple of friends who were backsmiths, I've a cousin who is a blacksmith but he's a decorative blacksmith so I suppose he doesn't really count in this, but this was the first time I've actually watched a blacksmith shoeing a horse.

Oh, I don't want to do my cousin Donald down, although he doesn't do horses, he actually did make the gates to Westminster Abbey.

The festival was close by the cave, and the cave car park had been opened to all for the festival. The parking normally closed at 6 pm, but the festival went on until close to midnight, so I decided to risk it and park overnight in the car park there.

Before that I tasted and then bought some home made hooch. Aahh! Nectar for the gods.

The cave was great. First of all you hurtle on a small train through a huge beautiful cave for 2 km, about 20 mph. It seems faster when rocks are zipping by a few inches from your head. It took 2 trains to carry almost 400 people on the first of the hourly tours of the day. But if in this first cave, there were 100's of stalactites, stalagmites, and columns. At the end of the train bit there were huge signs, English, Italiano, Deutsch, Slovanie, etc. You went and stood by your sign and a guide arrived for your language, to take us around almost 2 km more on a walking trip. More super, huge caves. Gorgeous. Photos not allowed. I hoping here to say, but here's one, but, sadly, the surreptitious photos I took are all blurred or out of focus.

Oh, and if anyone is interested in the math, it's 18€ each, and there are tours every hour, every day, from 9 am until 6 pm. More than $100,000 per day with comparatively small overhead.

Next I went to a castle. Home of a Robber Baron in the late 1400's, he had incurred the displeasure of the court who laid siege for a year. Erazim - the baron - had a secret entrance, and teased those who laid siege by sending them delicacies such as fresh cherries.

They finally got him. The little building on the left is the toilet. It had to be on the front of the building so that `deposits´ could fall down the cliff face. A servant was bribed to indicate when he was there, and at the appropriate time they demolished the building with their cannons.

Ow! I guess that's where the phrase come from, they caught him with his pants down.

I'm stopping here. I'm way behind, I'm spending good writing time trying to get my new computer to do the things I want it to do, or in the way I want. I'll catch up later.

But I'm not going to give up a day travelling to catch up on my writings - as one friend did on his `adventure´. For me, the principal object is the travel. For me, writing to you lot comes second.

Nor am I going to get over a year behind, as did a German couple, also friends, on their 2 year cycling trip from Canada to Chile.

I'll catch up. Sooner, rather than later.

Best regards

David Barker

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