Plitvice Lakes National Park

(This is the sixth post of our Croatia-Budapest Trip, June-July 2014.)
Saturday, June 21

In the morning we showered en suite in the tiny, but immaculate shower, packed up (easy to do with half my clothes gone) and thought we’d go up the street to get some baked goods at the bakery the landlady mentioned.  And on our way we would take half the luggage.  This prompted an outcry in Croatian from the “mother” to the English-speaking daughter.  We kept saying “one minute. . . one minute” like she could understand our English. Somehow she and I both thought if we spoke more emphatically in our native language that the other one would understand.  This never works, but goes on all the time.

Split Laundry

I stood at the front door, checking out the laundry hanging over our heads until the daughter dressed and peered down from her second floor stair landing, where we explained that we’d be right back in a minute and were just going to get some breakfast up the street and drop our luggage at the car.  “Okay!” she said, then explained this all to her mother, who then made the universal symbol of “carry on,” a hand gesturing towards the front door.  We were free to go.

Bakery Cookie

Luggage stowed, we entered the bakery, the only ones in there, and started looking around.  I immediately bought a bunch of the cookies (above) which tasted like those round nutty cookies at Christmastime, but without the annoying powdered sugar all over them.  We bought some breakfast-looking breads, then Dave, seeing a loaf with a chunk cut out, wanted some bread.  He pointed and asked with his fingers indicating a small bit.  By this time, she was tired of us.  She took a knife and whacked off a piece, rolling her eyes as she held them out and said “This one or this one?”  He chose the small one and we skedaddled.  Split is a working town, with little patience for American tourists, we decided.  We paid our bill, stowed the rest of our luggage and left town, heading for the A1 going north.

Sveti Rock

Heading up the A1, we saw this interesting formation: Sveti Rok.

Sveti Rock up close

As we got closer, it morphed into this.  We continued on, through tunnels and open road until we could stop for gas.

Auto Stop Croatia

These freeways stops (this one at Gornja Ploca) had all sorts of interesting things to snack on:

Grocery Store Spaghetti Candy

Grocery Store KitKat Candy

I bought this one for my granddaughter because her nickname is KeKe (pronounced like this candy).

Grocery Store Chips

Paprika is the national flavor, we decided.  We shared a bag once at some random lunch and it tasted like barbeque-flavored chips.

Grocery Store Tacco Chips

“Taccos.”  I love how we come off as Americans.

Grocery Store Big Pep Chips

I finally did buy this one, as I couldn’t resist the title “Big Pep.”  (I could use some of these every afternoon about 3 p.m.)  After a while, we turned off the A1 onto Highway 52, heading towards the interior, leaving the coast behind.

Big Lake Croatia

The landscape in this area is less Mediteranean, more rolling meadows with rivers and lakes.

Croatia to Plitvice Rt 59 scenery

PansionCafe Croatia

It was lunchtime, so we stopped at the roadside restaurant/hotel.

PansionCafe Croatia_1

Nobody was home, it seemed, but we needed to stretch our legs and after all, all the doors were open.  Eventually we were served and after a few more minutes, they brought us these:

PansionCafe Croatia_sandwiches

We sat outside in the car and enjoyed our lunch (we left the plates there, of course) and then continued on towards Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitivice Map from House Tina

We decided to begin at the lower section of the park and walk our way to the upper section, following the well-traveled trail, as shown by the map, above.  The lower box also shows the changes in elevation, but even after driving all morning after a pitiful night’s sleep, we didn’t find the hours we spent in the park to be strenuous.

Plitvice1_first view

We walked in from paying for the tickets (not cheap) and to the overlook, where we saw this sight: Veliki Slap, or Big Waterfall.  It’s the tallest in the park.  See that line of tourists about halfway up on the left side, all lined up to see this?  That’s where we are headed.

Plitvice1_wide view

The descent is via a sloping, switch-backed path, down through the forested slope.

Plitvice1a_tourists on path

We have now joined the line up of tourists as only a few can pass around the corner at a time, but we endure.

Plitvice1c_burbling brook

Plitvice Large Falls DAEESEOkay! We made and got our picture besides, thanks to a skilled visiting tourist who knew how to meter a photo for proper exposure.  I hope I did theirs okay, too (a time-honored tradition: trading cameras to take shots of strangers).  We headed back up the boardwalk, following the hordes, but thankfully so far, no tour guides carrying flags leading a pack.

Plitvice2_green lake

The colors are amazing, changing from a jade green to a teal to deep blues.  We are happy to be here on a not-rainy day, as we’ve been following the weather forecasts ardently, moving the trip to Plitvice up a day, just in case.  We had gorgeous weather on this day.

Plitvice2a_sign

The park is a series of lakes and waterfalls in between each lake, and near each is a sign like this showing where you are (a little arrow on the right, which is hard to see) and the elevation.

Plitvice2b_view up the valley

Looking up the canyon.

Plitvice3_two toned again

Plitvice4_little fallsThis is a still shot of the place where I shot the video (below).

Plitvice4a_burbling waters

Plitvice5_still water

Plitvice5a_cove and boardwalk

The boardwalk crosses over one of the lakes, and there was a pathway to head up to the top of the canyon walls, passing by this cave.  We decided to head on up the lakes (bypassing this gaggle of tourists).  We realize that by arriving at 2 p.m, we were going to hit crowds, but the park is so huge it wasn’t a big problem.  But Dave is a blue-sky kind of guy and will press on ahead just so his view is not the backside of multiple tourists, but a more open landscape.  By bypassing some groups, he was able to see the natural surroundings that were quite frankly, phenomenal.

Plitvice5b_another sign

Plitvice5c_ESEDAE

Plitvice6_colors

We stood here and took about five shots each of this, tilting our cameras this way and that for the exposure in order to get the blue below and the jade above.

Plitvice6b_DAE walking past falls

Seeing Dave’s backpack was often my view as he kept pressing on. . . and I kept stopping.  (However, the photographs on this blog were taken by both of us.)  I did catch him once and got him to pause enough for the next two photos.

Plitvice DAE

Plitvice ESE

Plitvice6c_lake view

Plitvice6d_falls view

Plitvice6e_flower1

At one point the trail led up into the forested landscape, where I found some dainty wildflowers.  We were headed to Jezero Kozjak, a big lake central to the park, where we would catch a boat ride to the next part of the trail.

Plitvice7a_boat ride pano

View from the front of the boat, where we sat.

Plitvice7c_boat on lake

Another boat passed us going the other direction.  Our tickets could only be used for one boat ride, otherwise I might have been tempted to get on another going the other way, and then another taking us to where we were now headed: towards those little set of falls, straight ahead of us (below).

Plitvice7_boatride

Plitvice13c_lakeviewA panoramic photo of the lake. The lake was serene, the day was not hot, but warm, the crowd on the boat was relaxed and soon scattered as we reached the dock.  Most of the time I felt like Dave and I were in our own little world, being English speakers in a foreign country.  We could sit at tables close by our neighbors at dinner but since we couldn’t understand them (and we assumed that they couldn’t understand us), a cushion enveloped us as we traveled where we didn’t speak the language.  And it had the added benefit of creating a deeper bond between Dave and I.

Plitvice8_greens

The first few days in Croatia, we would walk side by side and not speak to each other.  It wasn’t because we were angry or anything, it was that we were just out of practice.

Plitvice8a_falls on moss

At home we would spent most of our days in our own “caves:” he doing his work and me doing mine, and then after dinner I’d head up to my study to grade or even get a few minutes of quilting in, and he’d stay downstairs and read, grade or watch TV.  Parallel lives that were now blending into one life: that of a middle-aged couple on the road together, creating memories and sharing experiences.

Plitvice8c_flower

Plitvice8c_walkway onto partII

The ferry landed on the left side of an inlet, and we stayed on, as it crossed over and dropped us off on what looked to be an island, although we knew it just the other side of the lakes.  As it turned out, we went backwards from everyone else.  Fine by us.

Plitvice8d_forested path

As we walked along this path, a large group, complete with parents pushing baby strollers, came walking towards us.  One older man detached himself from the group and went ambling off to my right, in between the trees.  Usually good tourists keep to the trail, so I realized he was after something else.  Sure enough, he stopped, looked at his group, unzipped his trousers and took Nature’s call.  Unfortunately, he didn’t look DOWN the trail, so Dave and I caught the full visual image.  We focused our gaze back to the left to see others in the group looking over at him, shaking their heads, smirking.  We were smirking, too.  Some things cross all language barriers.

Plitvice9_paths

The group passed us by and the trail changed to boardwalk, as it was headed over marshy land at the edge of the next little series of lakes.  There are twelve in this upper section, but by taking the path we did, we would only see about half of them.

Plitvice9b_DAEs footsteps on path

Plitvice9c_path again

Plitvice10_path and falls

More falls:

Plitvice10a_falls

Because we live in a dry, quasi-desert country, all this water is amazing.  Gallons and gallons and gallons falling over moss-covered embankments.  We loved the sound and so took more videos here than any other place on our trip.

Plitvice10b_flower

Plitvice10c_falls

Plitvice10d_flower


After a while the water splashing on this rock began to remind me of hail, the fat drops of water scattering and chattering over the surface of the water. I could hardly tear myself away, but we still had much to go and the light was changing, indicating late afternoon sun.

Plitvice10e_blue bug

Dave snapped this blue little insect in mid-flight. Still can’t tell if it is a flying buzzing thing, or a tiny butterfly.  I think the former.

Plitvice10f_leaves

Plitvice11a_wide falls

Plitvice11b_wide falls

Plitvice12_bark

Even the lichen on the bark is beautiful here.  We won’t see such things in our neck of the woods.

Plitvice12_watercolors

Plitvice12a_more falls

Plitvice13_path to lake

This path leads back to the boat dock, where we will take a short ferry across and then up to the trams to carry us back to the beginning.

Plitvice13a_rushing watersIt’s hard to leave such a gorgeous place.  I’ve seen pictures of this in winter and the frozen landscape is also beautiful.  (I just wouldn’t want to be here when it rains.)

Plitvice13b_ferry and trail sign

We board the ferry to cross over to the other side of this narrow part of the lake.

Plitvice14_steps up to tram stop

And head up the path to the trams, which we think will carry us back to the beginning.  We start chatting with a couple next to us, waiting on the bench.  They are from Russia and he is a photographer, carrying a tripod and bag of gear.  Their English is pretty good (our Russian is non-existent) and we chat to each other.  Of course, we are dying to get their views on the Russian takeover of Crimea–a real first-hand viewpoint, but I don’t think it’s polite to grill your benchmates on politics, so we talk about places they’ve been, places they liked a lot (many in the US).  The tram comes and they board the first car and we board the second.

Plitvice Looking Up Canyon6

The tram takes us about halfway down the canyon, near the hotels onsite, and drops us off.  We have a bit of a walk, and it’s late afternoon and we’re a bit tired.  So we are passed a lot by faster-moving younger people, but we still manage to stop at most of the viewpoints, to look down on where we’ve been.

Plitvice Looking Up Canyon5

Plitvice Looking Up Canyon4

I wonder if the larger lake at the top of this photo is where the boat crosses.

Plitvice Looking Up Canyon3

The boardwalk that crosses the lower lakes, just above the Big Waterall.  There are steps from this vantage point down to the hidden cave.  No way I’m doing that, and I think Dave feels the same.  We still have to find our hotel, find dinner, and get settled before we can call it a day.Plitvice Looking Up Canyon2

Plitvice Looking Up Canyon1

Our final view of the canyon.  The Russian couple kept our pace, and we saw them again at the big sign at the entrance, where he took our photo (below).

DAE ESE Plitvice Lakes

Next up: House Tina and a real, home-grilled dinner

2 thoughts on “Plitvice Lakes National Park

  1. Wow, this is stunning. I feel restored just looking and listening. There are some lovely pictures of you and Dave individually and together in this post–something to print and display somewhere in your home as a reminder of a wonderful day.

  2. I happened upon your wonderful blog while researching a trip my 27 year old daughter and I will be taking this spring. If you don’t mind, I have some questions for you… Just a brief summary…flying from Chicago to Budapest then on to Zagreb, Plitvice, Split, Hvar Island then back to Budapest.

    Thanks, Cindy from Indiana

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