We are apparently lucky, survive our fried pork-cheese-ham lunch (packing half of it with us for dinner), and head for Plitvice Lakes National Park (“pleet-veet-seh”). Despite it being a Wednesday in September, the place is quite crowded with pushy, rude tourists. (Yes, tourists like us. At least we try to not be pushy, though.)
Our starting point is at the “lower lakes”, at the top of the deepest part of the canyon. Photos don’t capture the scale of this place. See the turquoise blob at the bottom of the canyon?
Here’s me walking on it. This isn’t the Grand Canyon, but it’s pretty big.
We switchback our way down the canyon wall, stopping every now and again to dodge fellow hikers and grab a quick score. Our next stop is that waterfall in the background.
At the bottom, there’s a ¼-mile spur to the bottom of the falls. The crowds made getting a decent photo here kind of tricky.
Bonus behind-the-scenes action! Becky has to climb a giant rock so we can take a picture without a bunch of strangers in it. Zero of these people are sensitive about walking through other people’s shots.
Next, we hike all the way up the other side of the canyon, to the top of that big waterfall. The path is steep, but we’ve been practicing for this.
We hike our way around the lower lakes, enjoying the scenery, and stealing a few photos when all the other tourists are around a corner.
Sometimes we were extra kind, and helped other people capture their special moments too. We’re so great sometimes.
About halfway through the hike, there’s a place where you can catch a ferry. We had, of course, missed the boat by about 5 minutes, so we could either (a) wait 30 minutes for a boat ride, or (b) hike the path to the other ferry terminal. Which one do you think we chose?
If you guessed the more strenuous option, you get a gold star! This part of the trail was pleasantly deserted, and totally gorgeous.
We stopped to use the restrooms at the hotel, and took the 5-minute ferry to the “upper lakes” trailhead. The afternoon is wearing on, and we’re pretty far from the parking lot, so the crowds thin.
This part of the trail is easily the most spectacular. We see every lake first from underneath.
By now the daylight is running short, and we pick up our pace so as not to miss the last shuttle back to the parking area. I’d like to say more about this, but the pictures really speak for themselves.
It’s hard to write about a day like this. You could sum up our entire experience as “walked around for hours,” and the photos don’t convey how great the time really was. The temperature was perfect, the scenery marvelous, but there just isn’t much to say. I hope I’ve done it justice.
We catch the shuttle with at least five minutes to spare. It stops three times, and we don’t see the parking area, so we stay in our seats. This does not go over well; we are shouted out the door, and hike on aching, tired feet the last mile to the main gate.
This spot was hard to find when we arrived.
The surly parking attendants grumpily take our money, and grudgingly lift the gate so we can drive out. After several turnings around in the dark, we find our lodging for the evening. Our Airbnb host has warned us we will be greeted by his father. Here’s exactly what he told us:
He does not speak English but he will understand you somehow i hope.
Ooh goody. This is easier than we expect, though; with no Croatian or English, we settle on half-forgotten high-school German, and get checked in just fine. A quick stop at the town’s convenience store, and we have a well-earned but terrible dinner on the table. Sooooo good.
This room is especially spartan; the towels are tiny, the walls thin, and there’s no TV. But the bed is soft, and despite having a long drive to Split today, we sleep in.
I should give a shout out to our intrepid little car. It only barely makes it up the hills, but it’s been a faithful companion ever since Zagreb.
The town pub had been closed by the time we came around the night before, but our hunt for breakfast finds it open and welcoming. We sit down for what is probably the best breakfast of the entire trip, with bonus eavesdropping on spoiled American teenage girls.
As we drove south, we kept seeing two diagrams of spitted animals over fire. One is a pig, but we couldn’t quite figure out what the other one was. Rat? Weasel? Sea otter?
Have you guessed? I’ll reveal the answer next time. 🙂