How long have you been a guide at Postojna Cave?This year it has been 35 years since I was employed at Postojna Cave. During my first year at the gymnasium, when I was 16 years old, I started as a seasonal vendor of raincoats at Postojna Cave (I remember greeting the visitors with ten raincoats and calling out at the top of my voice: “... cloaks, raincoats...”). A year later, after I’d completed mentoring, I was already guiding French-speaking groups. My mentor was the late Professor Pavlica, who wrote a phraseological dictionary in five languages. Then, each year, until graduation, I worked for a month or two as a cave guide during the high season. In 1980, I completed military service, enrolled at the faculty, and in 1984, was employed as a cave guide for French - and English-speaking visitors.
And why did you decide to become a guide?Already as a child, in 1967 (now it has been 52 years), accompanied by my parents, sister and relatives, I visited Postojna Cave, which, at that time, made a strong impression on me. Excited about the cave and the adventure book “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, which I was reading back then, I told my father I would someday descend into the centre of the earth (in the same year as Verne’s novel – 1863 – the first guide to the Postojna Cave was published in Slovene, by Etbin Henrik Costa). I was later a successful caver, taking part in some of the expeditions to the deepest caves. I managed to mix business and pleasure (a hobby and my job), and after so many years I can say that I still enjoy my work.
What makes Postojna Cave so special?The Predjama fault in the south and Idrija in the north. These limestones are between 80 and 90 million years old, but of course, the cave is significantly younger. For now, the cave system is 24,500 meters long and has several natural entrances, including: Postojna Cave, Otok Cave, Magdalena Cave, Black and Pivka Caves. Caving and diving expeditions are currently underway, with the aim of connecting Pivka Cave with Planina Cave. Some of the most notable things about the cave are a wide variety of absolutely stunning cave formations, the earliest visitors who first came to the cave as early as the 13th century – according to some studies, even before, the world’s first cave railway inside an underground cave (from 1872 onwards), electric lighting since 1883. The cave is also considered the cradle of speleobiology (the discovery of the slenderneck beetle etc. ...), but its main star is without doubt the olm (Proteus Anguinus). Postojna Cave can be considered the most enticing karst phenomenon in Slovenia and Europe.
Have you had any famous visitors?During my long career, I guided a number of artists, scientists, top athletes, a papal nuncio, the Japanese prince and princess, many statesmen etc.
What are some of the most common questions asked by visitors?The most common questions include: When was the cave discovered? How was the cave formed? How are the stalactites formed? What formations grow from the cave floor and hang from the ceiling? How old are the stalactites and stalagmites? (by the way, the oldest ever- known stalagmite in Slovenia was found in Postojna Cave’s Coloured Passage and is about 530,000 years old). Sometimes they even ask some rather playful questions, such as, “Who built the cave?”
What’s your favourite part of the tour/cave?During the regular tour, my favourite part is the Paradise (today it is called the Beautiful Caves), perhaps because I know the photographic opus of Rudolf Bruner Dvorák. His photographs from 1909 are the first photographic cycle from any cave in the world, and the photos taken in the Paradise show no footpaths built for guided tours yet. In the section of the
cave that is not open to tours, however, my favourite part is undoubtedly the Noname Passage.