Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 30 Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Well, however you say the name of these lakes, they were one of the most fabulous places we have visited on this trip – right up there with Meteora for me! Unfortunately it was an overcast day, which meant the water colour wasn’t quite as spectacular as it can be in the sunshine, but the bonus was that it was nice and cool for our big day of walking. After much discussion the night before, we decided to split into two pairs – the boys, who were going to walk from the bottom of the lakes and waterfalls, up to the top – a walk that was meant to take 5-6 hours. Us girls decided it would be more sensible to do a smaller loop, starting in the middle and going to the bottom (downhill), then if we felt like more, bus back to the middle and go further up to do another loop.

As it turned out, the boys ended up starting at the top and walking down (because their bus didn’t seem to want to go down the bottom, and circled back to the top for a second time before they got off. They enjoyed their walk, but finished it in about ½ the time it was meant to take!

Meanwhile Sarah and I took a boat from the middle to a bit further down, across one of the lakes, so we got a view of the first waterfall (called “Slap” in Croatian) from the comfort of a seat on the boat! We were first off, and walked along the track by ourselves for some time before we saw other people. There were actually hundreds of people in the park, going both ways, so sometimes there were even people jams with traffic trying to go both ways at the same time. That was OK except that some people were really rude, and just wouldn’t move over, resulting in Sarah and I nearly getting pushed over the edge of the boardwalk a number of times (mostly there was no railing on the boardwalks).

All the pathways were really well maintained, and basically you walked around the side of a small lake (there were many in a row with cascades between each), then meandered over the top, round the bottom, or beside the waterfalls on boardwalks made out of tree logs smoothed on the top side, so it was very rustic looking (and quite rickety in places). There were hardly any side rails (just in the most dangerous of places), and definitely some places that needed them and didn’t have them! Anyway they were fairly stable, and the good thing was that even where they were wet from the waterfalls washing over them, they were never ever slippery. Most of the other paths were metal covered, or even tarsealed in some places. The views changed at every corner, and the waterfalls varied from tiny to wide, high to low, all coming over the top in between rocks and plants. It was an incredibly beautiful place to be, and because there were so many lakes and waterfalls and different views, it was exciting for the whole walk, and we hadn’t even noticed that we had walked for a number of hours (and taken many photos!) Once we got to the bottom, we caught a bus back to the middle, then decided to do another small loop further up. Once on the bus, unfortunately it didn’t seem to stop any more in the place we had hoped to get off, so we went right to the top, and walked back down to the middle again – thus completing the whole walk, just like Hayden and Richard did!

We were sorry to leave this wonderful place, even though we didn’t sight any of the bears, wolves, otters or woodpeckers the park is famous for! There were lots of trout though, swimming in the shallows of the clear greeny blue water, who would have loved us to feed them some bread!

When we got back to the middle again, we found Hayden and Richard sitting waiting for us, and because they had also ended up going down the walk, rather than up, they had been waiting for two hours for us!

Once back in the camper, we drove for about 3 hours to get back to the coast, this time taking the motorway because we knew it was going to be close to nightfall when we were searching for a camping place. The rain started shortly after we left Plitvice, and really set in, so it was lucky that we had finished our walks already.
We are now tucked up warm and dry in our camper, very thankful that we are not tenting in this weather! It’s time to get the Canasta cards out and have a quick hand before bed.