What an amazing weekend 🙂
152- Saturday 19th Sept 2015: Quick Silver – Idrija Mercury Town
A relatively slow start and no a.m. run … we were on top of a steep hill after all! We free wheeled down to the town and went into the TIC, our usual first port of call. Yes, everything open, BUT three smaller museums are satellites of the main museum in the castle and you need to book one of the guides from there to open them up for you. OK, so we re-planned our itinerary. Castle, 3 satellite museums, cycle the Kanal to see the Wild Lake, lunch and the the mercury mine. However, the museum was actually really interesting and we spent longer there than planned so our itinerary became:
- Castle Museum: built for the Austro Hungarian administrators and as the mercury store. The museum contained the history of the mine: mining started in 500 and closed only in 1987, when the toxic health effects became too unpalatable. It is the second largest mercury mine in the world (No.1 Being in Spain). Also info on the lace making, the interwar occupation and geology. Given a helpful quick intro and orientation by one the students working there.
- Lunch and back to the castle to pick up the student guide. Him on his moped and us trying to keep up on bikes after wine! He was actually excellent and openly answered our inquisitive questions on partizans vs collaborators today, politics, sense of national feeling etc.
- Francis Museum of Technology: mercury being such a valuable commodity, the mine was the cutting edge of technology and the machines of late C17 to present are preserved.
- Miner’s House: ground floor furnished. Would have housed 3-4 families.
- Kamst Wheel: the preserved biggest water wheel in Europe. 14m diameter. It drove the mine water extraction pumps, was erected in 1790 and operated until 1948! Also displayed are some of the above ground engines.
- Anthony Mine: 30 min film about how the Mercury was found here and its uses – still used in fluorescent lamps, computer chips etc despite its massive toxicity. Miners started work age 15 and we lucky to make 40! Donned hard hats and jackets and went into the mine. Side shafts showed the different eras of mining: clothing and kit, with sound and dust amplification. The guide explained how shafts were back filled and a new one opened up. As the hill of the mine is so riddled with tunnels, there is a LOT of ground movement and when the mine was closed, they used the probe to establish lightly back filled shafts and then fill them with cement. 12 miners are still employed to maintain the areas open to the public and continue the cement filling.
- Cycle to the Wild Lake and back along the narrow canal that fed the Kamst water wheel. The Wild Lake is a natural phenomenon: divers have reached a depth of 160 m below the surface., which as deep as they can physically go to explore the lake. The emerald green surface of the lake is usually idyllic and peaceful, but only a few days of strong rainfall and the water starts spewing out and there is a bubbling dome. It was all calm when we arrived … shame would have liked to see the turbulence.
Back up steep hill to Chardonnay – so steep, we had to push the bikes! When we arrived a quick chat to Lyn and Ian, parked next to us and with such good taste, they have a Bessacarr too!
153: Sunday 20th Sept: Quick Silver – Lipizzaners
We arose early to drive to Lipica – the home of the Lipizzaners Stud farm. Under Hapsburg rule, a stud farm was established in 1581 and they have been developing the breed there ever since … with some ups and downs. The wars and Italian rule of the area all caused problems with horses being moved, stud books being held by other countries and lack of investment. The Slovine government sees this as a major part of the country’s heritage and subsidies their work to the tune of 60% and several million on current redevelopment. They now have several hundred horses and cross breed with other Lipizzaners stud farms worldwide.
We did a tour of the stud stables, which was not brilliant – guide spoke fast with a heavy accent and was too full of facts of breeding. We went back to Chard for a rest and lunch, but then the MAIN EVENT started. The annual show. Beautiful sunshine and about 10,000 people watching the dressage etc. Amazing to watch the stallions doing vertical leaps and jumps on their hind legs. But the best part was the guest performer. Lorenzo – a chap from France who is essentially a horse whisperer, who gets his horses to do amazing tricks just by his voice, hand gestures or a gentle flick of his whip. Really stunning!
Another motorhomer told us that we could stay in the Lipica carpark, so we did. J had paid to watch the All Ireland Football Final – Gaelic, that is. So we watched in the Lipca Hotel with free wifi, a splitter, two head sets and a bottle of wine and something to eat. A most excellent day: amazing horse training and the Dubs won! Up the Dubs!
And the Great Lorenzo!