Day trip the Plitvice Lakes

Trip Start Sep 08, 2009
Trip End Nov 24, 2009

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Flag of Croatia  ,
Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Plitvice (Pleet-veet-sah) Lakes were absolutely gorgeous! It's basically a big lake area with different "levels-“ upper and lower- with waterfalls connecting the lakes. And the Lakes are in a huge forest in the middle of Croatia. We took a bus from Zagreb and of course got off at the wrong stop. So we had to walk a ways on the side of a highway road- with no sidewalk- in the freezing cold (literally in the 30’s) in our pathetic excuse for winter clothes. But after walking a little while with our heavy backpacks on, we warmed up pretty quickly. When we finally got to the Lake area, we got to check our backpacks at a hotel in their storage closet. Then we hiked down to the water and hopped on a little ferry boat to the main part of the Lake area. We were on a time crunch because we didn’t actually get to the Lakes until about 11:30 or so and had to catch a bus to Split at 3:45 (it was the last bus of the day). And the whole Lake area is really large and you have to do a lot of walking and hiking to see it all.

The ferry boat was freezing out on the water, in the wind. We could definitely see our breaths and even mist (or fog?) coming off of the water. It was really mystical and perhaps even a little spooky. When we got off the ferry, we started our hike all around the Lakes. The water was so beautiful- completely clear and a perfect mixture of green and blue. You could even see hundreds of trout floating around (it’s illegal to fish there) in the water. We saw some really pretty waterfalls- small and large. We even came across a cave area and hiked up into two caves. They were small compared to the ones we’d recently been in, in Slovenia. But still pretty cool- mostly because of the location and the thought that bears may have previously inhabited them.

After the caves, we continued walking (literally water level) on these wooden bridges to the biggest waterfalls. They weren’t running too strong, but there was still a good amount of water coming down from them. The waterfalls are just below 200 meters high. Near them we saw a sign for a lookout point and ended up hiking up 200 meters worth of stairs, till we were pretty much eyelevel to the waterfalls. The lookout area was really cool because the leaves on all the forest trees up there were bright orange and so many leaves covered the ground that you could barely see the path. Fall was definitely in full swing. We continued from the lookout point (way above the lakes) on a hiking trail along the cliff above the lakes. It was so beautiful up there- all the fall leaves everywhere, no one around, and the bright blue-green lakes below us. I started freaking myself out mentally though thinking we were going to get eaten by a bear. (Well, I would have been eaten because Andre would have outrun me and I wouldn’t have stood a chance.) My fears got worse as Andre pulled out a can of this tuna/veggie mix to eat as we walked. I know bears have a really good sense of smell and they like fish so I got all paranoid and starting looking around us and walking faster. Luckily we finally reached the ferry dock again and I knew we were safe.

We took the ferry back to the main Lake entrance, hiked back up the hill, got our bags, and set out to the bus stop. We’d been told that since the bus stop we would have to use is not a normal stop for bus drivers, most of them blow right by you without stopping. So the best way to get picked up would be to step out into the road, wave our hands, and jump up and down. The guy who told us how to get to the bus stop said it was 50 meters away. Of course, it was probably at least 5 times that far. So once we realized this, we started walking faster and faster because we knew the bus would drive by us at any moment. When we were about 100 meters away, we could see the bus stop, with a girl already at it. Then suddenly we noticed her waving her arms frantically and jumping up and down. We looked back and the bus was about to go right by us. We started running as fast as we could (with our huge backpacks on and our messenger bags on our shoulders) toward the bus stop. The bus stopped to pick up the girl and we were still running, desperately trying not to get left behind. The bus driver hopped out of the bus and waved to us to hurry up. We finally reached it, out of breath, and the driver was still telling us to hurry inside. When we got in, everyone on the bus was staring at us as we walked to the back. But hey, at least we made it. We have the girl already at the bus stop to thank or we would have missed the last bus to Split (thanks to the bus being early and the guy telling us the wrong distance to the bus stop) and had to find a place to stay that night at the Lakes.

Thinking back on the last year of travels, I realize we always seem to be running late to catch a train, a bus, a subway, a tram, something… Whether it was the four of us (Andre, Amanda, Diane, and I) or just Andre and I, we’ve had to run for quite a few things. It’s always exciting and gets your heart pumping (especially when you really have something to lose if you miss it). And the funny thing is that I don’t remember ever missing anything (at least anything important). We always seem to make it just in the nick of time.
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