Saturday, December 14, 2013

Lake Plitvices, Croatia

Welcome to Plitvices National Park, Croatia

We left Split with our day packs filled with snacks. We were staying a night in the Lake Plitvices National Park and knew we were at the mercy of the hotel for food. All of the websites said the restaurant was expensive and not that good. We decided to save a few dollars and go prepared.
I got up early to shop for fresh fruits, nuts and dried apricots at the fresh market. Then I picked up cheese, ham and crackers at the grocery.

We found our bus and waited to board.
The bus trip to Lake Plitvices was 4.5 hours through some beautiful landscape. Rain storms were rolling in over the mountains. We arrived at the national park and were dropped off at the main entrance. We walked to the most expensive hotel I have stayed my entire trip. I was not happy spending $115 for our room but, I wanted to hike the lakes and waterfalls. 

The bus pulled up to the bus stop and I followed mom off the bus. As I stepped down off the bus I see mom falling towards the ground. Oh my! What happened? The bus driver was standing next to me and we both asked if she was ok? Yes she was and she laughed. She had tripped over a rock. Not a pebble but a huge rock the size of a soccer ball. She was covered with dirt on one side. She looked at me and the bus driver and said she was fine as I pulled her up off the ground. Well, I know where I got that talent from...thanks mom for my lack of grace!

I grabbed our bags and we both laughed as the bus pulled away from the stop. She was glad she would never have to see him again! We started walking down the road looking for the sign to Hotel Jezero, the only hotel open in the park. We walked 15 minutes and mom finally went in to ask for directions. Oops! We had walked 10 minutes past the turn. We backtracked. It was cold and rainy but I was excited. I could hear the waterfalls. I couldn't wait to see the natural beauty. 

We settled into our room and ate a picnic lunch. I was full and energized and ready to go see the park. Mom said to go ahead. I asked if she was hurt and she said no but didn't want to push it after falling. I told her I would be back by dark. I walked down to the entrance and bought our passes. The woman told me to take the trail down to the boats, across the lake and follow the path to the left. I just had to return by 4:00pm to catch the last boat back across the lake. I looked at my watch. It was 2:30 so I didn't have a lot of time. I thanked her and was on my way. I walked down 277 steps realizing I would have to walk back up them. I made a mental note to avoid this trail when mom comes with me in the morning.

It was beautiful, the leaves were still changing beautiful shades of yellow and the rainy mist gave a beautiful back drop to the lakes. 
I crossed the lake and hiked up the wooden stairs. It was peaceful. I did not see or hear anyone. Nothing but the sound of the waterfalls. All of the paths were dirt or wooden paths over the water. I felt at one with nature.

I walked along the lakes and explored the different paths. I kept a close watch on the time and turned back just as I met my first group of tourists. I chatted with the Taiwanese travelers on our walk back to the boat. They told me about the walk down from the upper lakes and I made a mental note to get up early and go in the morning. Back at the hotel, mom was waiting for me. We had dinner and relaxed watching tv.
The next morning we got up and walked down to the lower lakes first. The information center had told us where we could go and made suggestions for my mother due to her limited mobility. We took the shuttle down to the lower lakes. When we arrived, we followed the path. The walk was beautiful. We were not disappointed.

 We walked along the lakes and had beautiful lookouts over the lower lakes and the waterfalls.

Lower lakes and waterfalls. A wood path for viewing the waterfalls.
I wanted to explore a little further and mom wanted to rest. I told her I would be back in 15 minutes. As I walked, I could hear the water getting louder and louder. I continued following the path down. The mist and fog was thick so it was difficult to see. But I could make out the top of the large waterfall surrounded by smaller ones. It was a beautiful sound and sight. 
 I walked back and found mom waiting for me. She had made herself comfortable on a park bench.
We decided to take the shuttle to the upper lake and she was going to walk with me for a while. The paths were stunning on the cold, foggy and rainy morning.
We came across some beautiful evergreens and mom was ready to decorate them for Christmas.
When the path changed to steps down into the ravine, mom decided to go back to the hotel. She was going to tell the hotel we were staying one more night while I hiked from the upper lakes to the lower lakes. I promised I would be back by 2:00 pm. I walked her back to the shuttle and then continued on my journey down.
I had been warned about the flooding on the upper lakes and to be careful where I walked. I ended up in the flooded area and had to turn around and backtrack. It was so beautiful, I did not mind. I hiked up a mountain trail. When I came around a corner this was the view. It was breathtaking!
I continued following the signs to the boat dock and came to the best part of the hike. The wooden paths lead over the lakes to the waterfalls.

 I wandered from one to the next. There were hundreds of waterfalls and only a handful of tourists.

 At the end of the hike, I was enjoying the red carpet of leaves when I came across a beautiful rock.
You never know what is hiding in nature unless you take the time to explore and enjoy it.
I returned back to the hotel at 2:30. Mom was worried and was trying to figure out who to call when I walked in. I had a fantastic day hiking and was cold....time for a hot cup of tea and a bowl of soup!
Mom had made arrangements with the hotel for us to stay the night, get a breakfast box in the morning and to be at the bus stop at 6:00 am. We wanted to get an early bus so we could make the bus connection to Ljubljana, Slovenia in the afternoon.

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