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Are we on an Alp?

Black. Suddenly, everything's black. Here we are, the five of us, all separated, 100 meters underground, in the 2nd largest cave system in Slovenia, and everything is black. One of us has a fear of caves and one of us is reaching for railings. I'm trying to turn on my iPhone flashlight. No one prepared us for this.

Rewind about an hour.

There's a train in front of us. Surprise, surprise, we're in Europe, yes. However, this one is different. This one is inside a cave - Postojna Cave, to be exact - and was the first cave rail for tourists.

The train takes us about two kilometers inside of the cave. Now we're hiking a mountain. Inside of a cave. We're hiking a mountain inside of a cave. A cave mountain - the Great Mountain. Our guide is giving us science lessons over a microphone. "So we've got stalactites up here, but does anyone know what these are called, coming from the ground?" Stalagmites, I think. G for ground.

Our tour is almost complete. We are walking at the lowest point in the cave, casually on our way to the Concert Hall where we'd all yell to hear the echoes. Stalactites, stalagmites, and curtains are lit up all around us. Or so we thought.

The cave goes dark. Like, darker than dark. There's absolutely no light. I mean, I saw it too. I saw the button too, but I didn't press it. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it, but I didn't do it. Now the cave is black. Extremely black. We are underground after all. I hear screams and am overcome by a survival-mode, panic-fueled adrenaline rush.

Okay, Alli. You have a flashlight. Turn it on. I'd say that's a pretty good first thought. I pull my phone out and swipe up - the cave lights back up. Just like that, a couple of seconds.

- - - - -

This post actually doesn't have much at all to do with the Alps, like the title might suggest. It's an inside joke. Rather, it's about a moment during my incredible trip to Slovenia. This moment was filled with some of the strongest feelings I've felt in a long time. Being stuck underground in a massive cave and in absolute darkness will do that to you, you know? If you didn't, take my word.

You see, travelling to Slovenia was ignited by a picture I saw almost five years ago. It's not typically a place people think of right away for a weekend trip, but was one of the locations I was determined to see, no matter what.

After 18 hours on four different trains, almost no sleep, and a 30-minute walk around the lake, I finally made it. The photo I was telling you about? It was of Lake Bled. More specifically, of the island on Lake Bled. Even more specifically, the only island in Slovenia.

I went a day early and was joined by four others to spend Easter weekend in this wonderful country. While I was expecting a great time, I wasn't expecting to fall for a place so quickly. I met some incredible people in our hostels, was stunned by the beauty of the cities, and awed by the nature all around. The country has a little bit of everything - Julian Alps and national parks, lakes and gorges, caves and coasts, cities, everything. In our time we stayed in Bled and Ljubljana and took a day trip to the cave system mentioned above. We climbed to two castles, went on a sunrise hike in the rain (still worth it), rowed across a lake, and even got 'forever luck' on an island -well, two of us did.

While I could go on forever about this magical place, I'll leave you with photos. Not the one that sparked my curiosity about this country (because I honestly don't remember where I found it), but hopefully of some to leave you wanting more as well.

Church, castle, church, Alps. How European.
This was the first of two hikes on this trail. The first time I stumbled upon the trailhead, took the hike without water, and was greeted with this incredible view.
Castle and church. Oh, and gorgeous lake.
These are not the boats we rented, but I couldn't resist the photo.
"Are we on an Alp?" Post 5am hike in the rain. It's a completely different view that the day prior, but we were all in good spirits!
We tried the local Blejska kremna rezina (Bled cream cake) over breakfast before our bus to Ljubljana.
I fought my fear of heights to get this amazing panorama of the city. Ljubljana, you are gorgeous.

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