National parks and watery escapades

Trip Start Apr 24, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ok Clo, especially for u,(for bugging and hinting so well ;)) I sat here and wrote it, enjoy! So...what can I say?? Driving up through Croatia was beautiful, I much preferred the national parks we visited to the beaches - some of which had been manufactured with sharp little stones. Just to provide a 'beach' to base a campsite at. So uncomfortable to lay on! Having said that we drove mostly up the coastal road, so magnificent with all the islands and the gorgeous water it got to the point we got sick of saying "wow" as we came round yet another bend with another spectacular view.
The parks we visited were Krka which was all pools and waterfalls, so beautiful, we all got to have a swim there too. Was a bit scary round part of that area though, we were driving along going to a different part of the lakes, I'd just been saying 'wow, what a lot of scrubland I wonder who owns it' thinking we could maybe get away with parking there for the night when we drove past a sign with a skull and cross bones warning of mines, then another and another. Was fairly unsettling to say the least. We saw quite a few bullet riddled buildings some of which were ruins others still lived in, but all inland. It seems the coast is rebuilding faster maybe cos of income provided by tourism, who knows.
Paklenka park was excellent fun all mountainous and raw with some gorges and lakes. We took a hike up to see 'manita pec' cave which was such a surreal experience overheating so much on the way up the mountain in the harsh sunlight then descending inside into the cool and dark. Had a lovely cool off after we'd hiked back down in a lovely waterfall pool. Scruff had a close call when he took a suicide leap off a wall to avoid a couple of mules that were coming the opposite way. It was about 8ft down, we all couldn't believe he'd done it. Luckily he landed on some undergrowth and I thought it was cats that had 9 lives!??
Risnjak park was suddenly all lush and green, was amazing, like we'd crossed a threshold or something. I was so delighted to see grass again, I couldn't believe how chuffed I was, the green green grass of home I suppose J with the greenery came a shift in climate, back to being chilly in the evenings. Brrr I hadn't missed that!! Well actually I did in Greece didn't I hmmm. We went to trek to the source of the Kupa river which involved driving 8km down a road that if I'd known was a 'track' before we started we'd never have gone, was a white knuckle drive a one lane crumbling winding decrepit mountain road, with two way traffic. It was well worth it a really enjoyable trek up and down with a stunning translucent jade green lake that a couple of serious divers were getting ready to go and was freezing, we could only paddle for a second, I don't know how Scruff could swim in it.
Over the border into Slovenia, they checked all our passports, paying special attention to scruff's. Had to drive miles to the nearest campsite then found a legal camper stop instead. Was the car park for 'Postojnska jama' which we visited the next morning. It turned out to be the biggest cave in Slovenia, the biggest cave I've ever seen!! It was magnificent, it involved quite a long pretty fast little train ride - during which I was complaining that it was going too fast to take pictures (even though they said "no pictures" everyone was taking them). We'd been told it was ok so long as no flash as that disturbed the creatures that live here - like hundreds of bodies passing thru there's not gonna disturb them!? Regardless of that we kept hearing the echo of the shout "no photo's" with the Italian 'Gestapo' tour guide behind us adding "keep moving". We were part of a snake of tourists being herded along the walkway through the cave, so massive, we were walking round it for half an hour at quite a rapid pace. It made all the other caves we've seen seem like pot holes. It was funny, the day before I'd been to see a cave in Croatia and had been the only person (I was there quite early-but still) so I got a tour guide to myself. A very strange contrast.
We tried to give Ljubljana (the capital) a shot, what a disaster. Got hit with the €35 vinjetta which is a 6 month ticket to use the motorways. We'd heard about it but not enough details unfortunately so for the 15k journey on the motorway it cost €35, shocking eh! We didn't like the campsite once we'd finally found it, after fairly hairy circles round the city. It was really busy and didn't have a nice energy at all.
Now we in Bled just on the edge of the national park at the campsite by the lake. We've ended up being here for a few days now as it's just so lovely round here with so much to keep us busy. We've cycled round the lake, swum in it rowed on it. Cycled about 25k to Vintgar gorge where we walked for 3km along the wooden walkways over the sparkling pools and waterfalls. We didn't mean to cycle that far, the map disagreed with the road. Completely enjoyed it all the same even though it was mostly uphill all the way there, that meant it was mostly downhill all the way home J
The other day I went canyoning, which started with getting all togged up in wet suit, boots, harness, helmet followed by a 15 minute hike up the mountain. Then we were off, the first moment involved sliding off a boulder with the waterfall and landing in a pool coming up gasping for air with a massive head rush from the freezing water. It continued much the same, scrambling over rocks and boulders, abseiling down one part, some flying leaps and plenty of sliding down waterfalls with fairly regular cracks of thunder adding to the whole ambience. So much fun!! A few scary moments too to get the heart pumping. I was delighted with myself for doing it, I'd been a little concerned about my foot but it was grand, I escaped with just aching muscles and a bruised elbow.
That afternoon we swapped and I went back to mind Scruff and Lena went rafting here's what she has to say on the matter :
Well I chose rafting as it looked like the safest option and have always fancied white water rafting. Actually it was quite a thrill, the very funny and experienced guide took three boats of us out alongside three kayaks, the river was level 2 and weather rainy, stormy, misty so very atmospheric, at points the water disappeared into mist with steam where the freezing water met warm air. It was great fun and hard work paddling as fast as we could for over an hour to beat the rapids. at one point the witty guide tipped us all in just for fun as we hadn't capsized and he thought it wasn't exciting enough for us! We also got to try out body rafting down a rapid for about 150 metres, that was fun and very fast!
Earlier today I had a couple of goes on a personal rollercoaster. Such an adrenaline rush - as if I hadn't had enough already. It involved catching a ski lift up the mountain, quite an experience on it's own all that jumping on and off at the right time with your feet dangling the whole seat swaying around so high off the ground, completely unsettled my stomach. Had great views out over the lake from the top, then the ride down in a little torpedo shaped yellow plastic trolley which had a lever that worked as the accelerator and the brake. Of course I had to see just how fast I could go down and discovered that yes you do need to use the brake too.
So as you can probably tell we having a mighty fine well varied time. We off to Austria tomorrow with any luck. As always love to all and hope u well and having lots of fun
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