Falling Water

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Friday morning we packed up to drive to Plitvice National Park. Plitvice is a network of tiered lakes, where the rock formations have channeled the water to flow through waterfalls from lake to lake. We decided to take the more coastal road before turning inland. Such glorious scenery! First through the mountains (quite literally, as we drove through a three-mile long tunnel), the along the other side of Istria’s coast, then up the mountains and through mountain valleys.

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And finally, we reached the Park at about 1. We checked into the charming Plitvice Inn and met Lili, had a decent lunch down the road (a “grandmother-style” soup of vegetables and lamb for me, sausages and cabbage for Larry) and parked at Entrance 2 at the Park. Spent some time puzzling out the gift store map and the large billboard maps, where the numbers or letters on the trails didn’t really match up. The trail we decided on supposedly would take 5-6 hours, which seemed excessive for the distance. We walked down the hill, and took the shuttle bus to start trail H, working our way downhill. The colors, the green of the lakes and plants, the spray of the waterfalls–it’s absolutely amazing.

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The wooden walkways you travel on are very rustic, with no railings. And steps. Have I mentioned the steps? and no railings? No US-style building code here, no safety barriers or visuals to indicate steps. I think Larry has bruises on his hand from the number of times I had to grip hard to keep my nerve. Vertigo and I go way back, and with my recent vision issues, the depth perception wasn’t at an all time high either.

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But I did it, and very glad to have done so.

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Happily, the park wasn’t terribly crowded, and most of the time there were just a few people around. And yes, it did take us five hours, including the excruciating last climb up steep stone staircases and then another climb up a paved road to the parking lot. (why they don’t run shuttle buses from the parking lot I do not know–it would be to their benefit as it would get people out of the park faster and free up parking)

Fabulous dinner at the inn, with soup with knaidlach (think semolina matzah balls), an enormous platter of amazing vegetables, chicken, and mystery meats.  I would be happy to see those vegetables every night. Apple cake for dessert, and let’s not forget the slivovitz.

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We slept well.

Saturday was a very different story. Things started out OK, even though our plan to get to the Park at 7:30 didn’t happen. We did one of the trails from Entrance 1, one that would be a bit easier on my abused knee. And it was, except for us being joined by thousands of people, mostly coming in enormous waves from tour buses. The wooden walkways at times were truly dangerous, with people needing to get to the edges to pass each other.

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We eventually retreated to a quieter area, and did a bit more, relieved to be able to breathe again. Then Larry did a solo hour climbing one of the very steep small trails while I rested and people-watched.

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Ate the worst lunch ever (well, half of it) at the Park, and then we drove to our little sobe (guest house) near the Zagreb airport. Our host gve us wine made by a friend of his, and we spent an interesting hour in conversation. Tensions from the war of the 90’s still simmer, and Croatia is still recovering.

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