Saturday, 25 October 2014

Croatian holiday - Plitvice Lakes

I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from Croatia, other than that it would be beautiful. It is. My first impression was that it is a cross between Poland and Italy. I know that sounds VERY weird. But the architecture (the newer, post-WW2 architecture), the shops, the open-air markets for clothes and food (including meat), the bus stations, the language, all remind me very strongly of Poland. The beauty of the old architecture, the white-stone streets, the light, the coast, all remind me of Italy.

We were very lucky with the timing of our departure from Germany, as the train engineer's strike ended at 4 a.m. the day of our departure (the train is by far the best and least expensive way to get to the airport) and the pilot's strike of Lufthansa began at 1 p.m. Our flight was at 12:20. Note to self and visitors: it took us an hour and a half to get to our gate and that was without stopping anywhere not required: check in, security, and passport control all had significant lines.

We arrived in Zagreb, picked up our rental car, and headed for Plitvice Lakes National Park. Along the way we stopped for dinner at a place in a beautiful town. The restaurant has a trout farm in the middle (and resident cats hoping to share in your very fresh dinner!).

Plitvice Lakes National Park is gorgeous. It is a series of cataracts and waterfalls with walking paths along, under,and around them.

The walkways are mostly boardwalks. In a few sections it was pretty overrun with busloads of tourists, (I can't imagine what the high season is like), but in others nearly deserted and very peaceful. We have been astounded at the number of Asian tourists. I don't know why it surprises me that Croatia is a big destination for them. Some of the busloads of tourists were day trips from cruise ships - that would be a pretty long day trip from the coast! And some of the passengers looked pretty surprised to be walking in the forest.

The weather at Plitvice Lakes is important as it's a day of hiking. We were lucky. Although we didn't have sunshine, which would have been nice, it wasn't raining, either. And it turns out that we were fortunate it was not snowing, as on our departure day we woke to this.

Sorry, I got distracted by the homemade doughnuts made by the owner of the place we stayed. Just like Polish paczki! THIS was the surprise that morning.

While it was certainly beautiful, we did not come equipped to hike in the snow. It made the first part of that day's drive to Split very exciting! 

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