The feelings I have had about Croatia in the past are a mix of all the things I have heard primarily from the news we are fed – war and conflict, upheaval and uncertainty, a tumultuous history and conflict so in coming here and experiencing the people, the sights, the understated friendliness I am incredibly humbled by the experience – travel certainly does cut through any prejudices and expands the mind.
We have arrived late in the evening and our plan is to have a laid back day exploring the area and maybe a swim in the sea but since this is the very best day weather wise we will go to the famous Plitvice Lakes – a major tourist attraction here. It is an hour and a half drive which is nice as we do get to see lots of the country side including shepherds with small flocks of sheep. Quite facinating to those of us who know about sheep farming in Australia.
The lakes are absolutely stunning, slivers of water can be seen through the trees showing glimpses of iridescent turquoise – a small enticing taste of what is to come.
I am truly amazed I am here – the fact that literally thousands of others are here too is a little overwhelming but then the weather is perfect for seeing the lakes and the falls. The water is by far the clearest water I have ever seen, you must be able to see for kilometres under – with spooky tree trunks reaching up out of the depths still well under the surface but so clear. Fish gather at shady areas close to the surface and we even spy a couple of snakes just rippling the surface as they move smoothly through.
Waterfalls are plentiful enough to satisfy the most ardent admirers and it is the only place you can really see that it is water you are looking at as it cascades down silvery, moss like weed over rocks so it turns white with bubbles and froth from the sudden drop. We travel by boats that have quiet electric motors, so as not to disturb nature at its best and then we walk over well made boardwalks that wind back and forth so you do not miss a view or corner of this water wonder world.
We finally reach the big waterfall or Veliki Slap, 70metres of splendour . It is nice to sit here and just enjoy and enjoy and enjoy!
The walk back up is a steady climb but we still stop to savour the overall views until the very last, each point a precious memory that can never be properly photographed – how can you take all the depth, the sounds and the expanse in a snap shot?
We are all tired and our very helpful hosts directs to a place to have dinner out on the sea shore that promises to rejuvenate us for the rest of the evening. It is still quite early so we walk along the foreshore and I can’t resist feeling the water – it’s nice perfect for a swim. The restaurant, Konoba U Robara, is lovely and we enjoy our grilled squid, black calamari and scampi risotto and Orada fish all washed down with a bottle of local wine.
Arriving back at our accommodation we meet with our host Ante who without a doubt is extraordinary – going above and beyond to make us welcome. One his best stories involves a tank with an army behind it ready to take this little village but as the tank has to manoeuvre through a very sharp zigzagging portion of the road it is attacked and destroyed by a small band of townsfolk. The army thinking there must be a huge army to be able to destroy a tank turned and ran much to the jubilation of the town.
It is quite late when we all head off to bed, happily weary from a wonderful day.