A MUST See
Trip Start Jun 02, 2010
46Trip End Oct 03, 2010
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So while I have been enjoying all the sights it has been a while since I got really excited about something. Well, that all changed the other day when I was in Croatia. Now, most have heard that Croatia's coast is the must see place, and that's usually where people go. I won't argue that Croatia's coast isn't absolutely beautiful, however, it is not the only thing in Croatia. I think so many people hear about the coast that they completely pass up another gem of this country: the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
It is not exactly the easiest place to get to. There are no trains that go there and the buses are a hit or miss. This means that while you can usually get a bus to the park there is never a guarantee that you can get one back from the park. This made me a bit nervous as a solo traveler. I had looked into booking one of the three hotels by the National Park, but they were completely full for the night I needed. So I HAD to get back to Zagreb. Luckily, the wonderful hostel I was staying in had a deal with this iBus tourism group. Basically the hostel would call what was essentially a shuttle bus transport organization for you and reserve a seat. It only ended up costing about 20 kuna ($4) more to go through this private company than to do public transport
So I got on the shuttle bus around 9 am and we got to the park around 11am. We only had about 6 hours in the park, but actually that is plenty of time to see the entire thing. Now the Plitvice lakes are a bunch of terraced lakes that form the most beautiful waterfalls you have ever seen and have the clearest, crystal blue water you can imagine. What makes the park even more magnificent is that the trail you hike follows the lakes and waterfalls the ENTIRE time. It is perhaps the best National park I have been in for photo opportunities. You can either start your hike at the top or the bottom of the terraces. If you start at the top you will be hiking downhill the majority of the time but then at the end you will have a RUL steep climb to get out of the "canyon". However, if you start at the bottom you will definitely be dealing with bigger crowds but you will get the best views of the waterfalls (meaning you won't have to turn around to look at them).
I started at the bottom and spent the next 5 hours in absolute heaven. Nothing can describe to you how glorious it felt to get out of the city and back into nature. Especially when the nature was as picturesque as the Plitvice Lakes
I was able to hike the majority of the park and in all likelihood I could have done the entire thing easily. However, I didn't want to miss my shuttle back to Zagreb and the way the crowds were moving there was a slight possibility that could have happened. I swear, I don't know what it is about national parks, but people just act stupid when they are in them. They never look at the signs that say "stay on path", "no swimming", "no littering", and then they wonder why they get in trouble for doing those things. There was one dude who full up threw his cigarette butt into one of the lakes. I tell you, I was overcome with an overwhelming urge to grab that cigarette butt and then shove it down his throat and say "THERE! Now you know how the fish feel". I of course contained myself, but I definitely gave him a dirty look
However, perhaps the worst people in the park were the parents who insisted on bringing their strollers with them. Strollers! In a nature park! I have already described what the walk ways look like. Well, there are also steps with these wooden beams. Lots and lots of steps. So you can imagine how convenient it is to bring a stroller into such a place. The worst part of it is that Stupid Stroller man would get angry at the rest of the crowd for being in the way or not letting him pass. Well I'm sorry that you're an idiot but I'm not going to hold up my enjoyment because you either are too lazy to carry your kid or your kid is too lazy to walk
It may sound like I didn't enjoy my day at the park, but really these experiences were just minor hiccups in an otherwise wonderful day. I can't imagine why more people don't visit this place. I mean, there were a lot of people there, but I didn't hear one American accent. Not one. Except mine, of course. So I would have to say if anyone ever finds their way to Croatia, don't spend all your time at the coast. Remember there is a national park, somewhere in the middle of the country that will take your breath away and steal your heart.
Just beware of the strollers.