Every employer knows how important loyal and committed workers are. Few of them remember that it depends on their attitude as well. To his cost, the owner of the picturesque Predjama Castle in Slovenia found out just how important it is.


During this year's holiday we visited Postojna Cave again. Less than 10km from the Cave there is another amazing Slovenian place – Predjama Castle. Somehow we had never got round to visiting it before. This time we decided to catch up, and we regret the fact that we didn't do it years before.


Built into the rock, the four-storey castle emerges from the corner in a surprising and breath-taking manner. Originally, in the twelfth century, the castle was built in an extensive cave in the rocks. Traces of this can be found in the depths of the cave, and even though today it only looks like a cave, there exist details which indicate that there were at least a couple of rooms. Later in the XVI century the castle was developed into its current shape.


The structure is built on a 123-metre-high cliff, and it is beautiful and gloomy at the same time. The only entrance is via a narrow path and archway, and from the stony balconies an amazing view of the valley stretches out. On the one hand the fortress was an inhospitable and cold place. Only one or two rooms were heated, and the rock, which was an integral part of castle, didn't get any heat. It is difficult to imagine that there was ever warmth here. The high, steep and slippery stairs to the other parts of the castle make it difficult to get into the building. On the other hand this location – like few other castles – gave almost total security. The only way to the castle was clearly visible. The trees which now beautifully surround the castle and the valley didn't exist before, so the residents had the whole vicinity under control.

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26Aug2016

We have visited the picturesque Slovenian Postojna Cave a few times now. Every time however we have discovered something new for us in this Pivka river creation.


When you travel with kids, this trip may be uniquely interesting, as apart from the beautiful chambers an additional attraction is the pretty fast journey by underground railway, thanks to which the visit is not so bothersome. You have to remember to take warm jackets or sweaters for the kids. It is rather cold in the cave (around 8 C) and the fast ride intensifies this feeling. Travelers who remember warm clothes will not tremble with cold. For a small amount of money they can rent warm long coats similar to those worn by Polish Podhalański Shooters (Polish Infantry Units). The guides speak Slovenian and basic foreign languages. It is worth renting audio guides, which are available in a lot of languages. It makes visiting this place much easier, and you may concentrate on its beauty without missing any details. The guides' information is short, straightforward and interesting enough that my little traveler listened to it with great attention. Using the guides is trouble-free as well.


The cave was opened for tourists at the beginning of the XIX century. The tourist path is 5 km long, but we only managed 1.7 km on foot - the rest of the so-called Old Passage we travelled by train. The passages have low ceilings and the walls are often very close to the sides of the carriage, so the guides asked us many times not to stand up, lean out or take selfies.


Equipped with audio guides we wandered, marvelling at the unique and beautiful creations formed by water. Around us there were plenty of surprising rocky formations, dripstones, stalactites, stalagmites and rocky curtains. Some of them so thick and huge that it is difficult to imagine how long it took for something like that to form; others were so narrow that they were like icicle-noodles hanging from the ceiling like wrinkled material. We passed by the Ballroom and climbed the Big Mountain to enter the deeper parts of the cave via the Russian Bridge. The most visible colors in the cave are orange and red. You may see some black or white forms as well. The colors depend on the minerals which are washed out by the water flowing over the rocks. The white is visible due to pure calcite, which does not contain any other elements. The white dripstones are strikingly similar to glittery ice.

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Today I would like to share with you a recipe which you may prepare in two ways. The first way is the traditional one with whipped cream and mascarpone cheese, and the second one is a bit lighter. I use natural yoghurt and slightly creamy white cheese (you may use mascarpone cheese, but not necessarily) to make a dessert with a mellow consistency. I admit that I prefer the second version of this dessert (maybe because it is less sweet). I leave the option open which dessert to choose.


One thing in both of the desserts is the same. The blackberries – beautiful, so navy blue they are almost black, glossy, juicy and slightly sour – in one word: incomparable. As well as the excellent taste and beautiful look, blackberries have a lot of health properties. They are rich in anticancer nutrients, aid the circulatory system, control blood sugar levels and even buffer PMS and menopause symptoms.


In our home my daughter likes blackberries the most. My son doesn't like them, but after today's dessert he said that "maybe he will like them" Mrugnięcie When I served today's dessert my son said that the blackberries looked like they had been dipped in fresh white snow.

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A tour of the south of Europe can be done in one go. The motorways shorten the travel so much that even more than 1500 km isn't a problem. When we have a bit more time, we try to brighten our trip with attractions, thanks to which our tired children don't yank their hair out and get on our nerves. I think that adult travellers could also take advantage of our proposals. They are special and remarkable. I like medieval ruins and castles which quietly tell their stories, but my children make a wry face at the prospect of visiting more "old walls".


Therefore, we changed our plans and decided to take a trip around the world. We didn't need 80 days like Phileas Fogg in the book by Julius Verne. We needed only one nice afternoon to see about 150 models of buildings and other objects from around the world in Minimundus, the Miniature Park near Klagenfurt. The park was opened in 1958 and every year the number of new exhibits increases. The income from the tickets goes to the "Rettet Kind" foundation ("Save a Child"), which runs the park. We didn't know how the objects in the park were chosen. We found out that the visitors also have a role in choosing them, as they can suggest which buildings should appear in Minimundus Park.


You can find here not only the biggest and the most famous buildings in the world, like the French Eiffel Tower or St Peter's Cathedral from Vatican City. Among the places found here there are also small and seemingly less significant but charming buildings like St. Kevin's Church from Ireland or the Belgian watermill. Each place was arranged with great attention to detail, decorated with small greenery that goes well with the style of the buildings. The details of the models are breath-taking. Reportedly, some of the maquettes were made with extraordinary building materials that cost even over half a million euros.

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Today I have a suggestion for these who like to spend their holiday around Vienna and have an additional 2 hours of free time to fill.


In the Hinterbrühl mine gypsum was tapped starting from 1848. However, in 1912, as the result of an explosion, the lower levels of the mine were flooded and the work had to stop. The many litres of crystal clean water in dark corridors tempted people to visit the mine, so the Austrians created a path for tourists in 1932. Thanks to this we may admire this charming place.


Convenient placement and perfect protection against bombs meant that during the second World War the Nazis took over the mine, pumped out the water and transformed this tourist attraction into an underground plant producing parts for Heinkel He 162 warplanes. To make the plant more useful, they painted its whole interior white and concreted the bottom of the drained lake.


After the war the grotto was flooded anew and again made available for tourism. Despite the devastating actions of the Nazis, the mine together with its underground 6200 m2 lake is still a uniquely beautiful place and one of the most well-known underground tourist paths in Austria.

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I have behind me another meeting with the lawyer Mikael Brenne from the book "In one's own right" by Chris Tvedt.


The story starts a year after the affairs from "Justified doubt". Mikael Brenne, now a well-known and recognised attorney, takes on the defence of a murder suspect. It seems that this case is impossible to win. At the dock sits a strange man charged with raping, mutilating and brutally murdering a teenage girl. His guilt is almost without question, but a coincidence means that the public is surprised by the judge's sentence. The lawyer feels that he will regret his decision to take the case, and all this may be a difficult point on his career path.


After around hundred pages the case is closed, leaving however more questions than answers. Feeling cheated, Mikael's growing concern leads him to commit further actions that far exceed the standard activities of a lawyer. Once again his sometimes thoughtless behaviour leads him into trouble and endangers his close relatives and friends. His next client is surprisingly closely connected to his former case.


"In one's own right", similar to the previous volume, is a very good read. Despite being a criminal story taking place in court, nobody can be bored. Fast flowing action, coincidences, witnesses appearing at the least expected moment mean that right until the end nobody knows whether the killer is the gardener or the butler. The balance between courtroom hearings and criminal action is perfectly worked out.

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