Lake Plitvice National Park

Trip Start Sep 11, 2005
Trip End Dec 13, 2005

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sunday, October 23, 2005 Lake Plitvice National Park, Croatia

As you go from town to town I will admit you can get a bit burnt out. After five and a half weeks of traveling you can get a little tired. I won't say that you want it to be over, but you realize that each day can be a challenge. Friday was one of those challenging days.

We left Bled on a bus pretty early in the morning. We then headed to Ljubljana where we caught a train to Zagreb, Croatia. We hit Zagreb late in the afternoon and decided to continue on our journey to Lake Plitvice National Park a few hours away. Another bus took us on our journey.

We had called ahead and reserved a room in the park so that we would have a place to stay when we arrived. We asked how far they were from the bus station. The response we got was 150 meters. We thought that was pretty doable. So off we went.

As we drove we saw the sun set and some of the countryside torn apart from the past war. After two and a half hours we started to peek out the window wondering where our stop would be. We saw the signs for our hotel pass by and we began to get nervous. A few miles down the road they dropped us off. We were on the side of a highway, in the darkness. We started saying our prayers and wondering what we should do now. It was pitch black, no sidewalks, and a windy highway leading back to our home for the night. Oh the joys of traveling without a car.

So we found our flashlight and headed back towards our hotel. We hugged the side of the road and dashed away at the slightest sound of an oncoming car. I was praying like crazy, asking God what He was trying to teach us. All kinds of verses were coming to mind, especially Psalm 23. Over and over I repeated, "He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. " Somehow we made it to the hotel and smiled joyfully as we talked to the receptionist.

She not so cheerfully informed us that they did not have a reservation for us and the hotel was full. We asked her to please call around and see if she could find our reservation. She directed us to another hotel a dark turn and 300 meters away. So off we went into the darkness, thanking God that we had packed a flashlight and His Word in our hearts.

The next hotel told us that they too did not have our reservation and that their rooms cost 110 Euro, that is way over our budget. That is like four times the amount we were hoping to pay. She told us that the next closest hotel was 12 kilometers away and there was no way to get there without a car. I was very grouchy and confused. We sucked it up and coughed over the cash to this stuffy hotel. All the while I was thinking, where did our reservation go?

I was on a mission to find out who caused this chaos. Of course I couldn't get the phone to work in our room so I ran off to the payphone. Charlie and I called back the number we had made our reservation with, no one answered this time. I was beyond frustration. I managed to find my way out to our balcony to try and find some peace. I then could hear the amazing crashing sound of water. It was very dark so I had no idea what was making this great sound, but it reminded me to be thankful. I had a balcony with a great view and amazing surround sound, I should praise God in the midst of our challenges.

The next morning brought with it confusion. What were we going to do about our sleeping arrangements? We wanted to visit the park, that was why we came all the way out here, but we couldn't do that and head on to our next destination in the same day. We did not want to stay at the money sucking hotel and so we started praying. I called some hotels and found out they were booked. Our only option was to stay at the expensive hotel, or so we thought. We prayed and asked God to help us be good resources of our money and give us wisdom about what to do. When Charlie called the front desk to ask if we could stay another night they told us they were booked for the night. I have a hard time believing that, but okay. So we prayed again. While we were praying God assured us that he would help us find a place to stay.
We stowed our bags at the front desk and ventured into the amazing park. We knew we were going to have to find somewhere to crash for the night because we were not leaving without exploring this amazing creation. God is so good.

We found our way to another entrance of the park. We had been told that not too far from the park was a small village. We were assured we could find a room there. Wouldn't you know it we were back on the highway in search of a place to stay. We found a small sign that said rooms and followed it down to a collection of homes. Each home had a sign out front that said they had rooms to rent. Some nice ladies sitting out on their picnic table told us that they had a room for a small fraction of what we paid the night before. Hip hip horray!

Charlie asked if by some chance someone could take us back to the hotel to get our bags. A few minutes later a nice gentleman pulled up and took us back to our first hotel. On the way back he showed us how to get to the village safely from the park. We were so excited. We offered to pay him for the ride, but he said no. This was his house we were staying in and he seemed glad to help. Kindness is such an awesome thing.

We were eager to get back to the park. Upon arrival we were amazed at what we saw. Lake Plitvice National Park is a small piece of heaven. It made all the frustration we had gone through worth it when we finally arrived. What we were met with was incomparable beauty in every direction. The focus of the park is on the cascading waterfalls. The park is a collection of 16 lakes at different levels. As one lake rushes into another you are met with hundreds of beautiful waterfalls. The color of the water varies with the sunlight and direction you are facing, but from any angle you are met with clarity. Aqua, Clear, Charlie says Miami Dolphin Blue, are all glorious shades you see when you gaze at the water falling in so many directions.

We were lucky to have all of this surrounded by the lovely colors of fall. Shades of garnet, rust, gold, and canary were sent into the air by the ever changing leaves. Every direction we turned we were amazed at the beauty which surrounded us. We were so thankful to God for bringing us here and allowing us to experience this natural wonder. As the sun began to set we decided we had to have another day here.

As we came back to our room we were greeted by our host who offered us something cold to drink and information about where we could get food in the morning. We gazed at our pictures wishing we could share this amazing place with everyone that we love. It reminds us of how creative God really is and how privileged we are to experience it all.

Today we were greeted with another sunny day. The temperature was warm and welcoming. The waterfalls seemed to be calling our names drawing us back to their beauty. We found our way to the far end of the park. There were not as many people and we enjoyed strolling through the grounds basking in the wonders of nature. The lakes reflected the glistening sunlight and lead us to waterfalls around every corner. We snapped a ton of pictures and tried to figure out how we could make this place last in our minds forever. I didn't want to turn away because I did not want to forget this awe inspiring place.

We hiked another full day, enjoying every moment along the way. When we stopped to take a boat ride across one of the lakes we realized how much time had flown by. We wanted to make it back to the other side of the park so we picked up the pace as the sun was sinking. The journey was shorter than we thought and we were able to spend our last few minutes enjoying the big waterfall and the smaller falls which surrounded it. As I said goodbye I felt like I was leaving an old friend. The falls had shared their water with me, splashing me and cooling my face. They had reminded me of God's goodness and creativity. They allowed me to wander close by taking it all in. I would surely miss all this. It was very hard to walk away. One of the most beautiful places I have experienced had me captured in a trance. Thankfully it was a refreshing and rewarding trance. I am reminded that although there are frustrations it is an incredible privilege to be a traveler. You get to see this amazing world, I wouldn't change that for anything.
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