I woke up early at 6:30 am to make sure I got to the bus station in time to buy a ticket and board the bus before it left at 7:30 am. After passing through the main entrance and getting oriented with the park by map, I walked to the first look out point and saw a bit of what all the travel websites advertise. This initial view gave me a taste of what was to come: the tallest waterfall in the park and a stretch of falls that wildly spread apart and intersected simultaneously while being nestled amongst the tall grassy marshes. I would describe the falls as whimsical; the water travels with a mind of its own. The lakes’ water shot out of gaps in the rock like a fire hydrant or gently slithered across the luscious mossy green before leaping into the next lake. I soon realized I was walking through the Garden of Eden minus all the animals. The whole park is a vibrant life source. The rocks at the summit of each waterfall are clothed by a healthy spread of green moss from which weeping willow style grass grows and hangs while being swayed by the ripples of the water. Brave trees grasp the edges of the falls while peering down at the lake below. Most of the path is made by wooden planks that are built over parts of the lakes and falls. I was guided through the marshes and spots where the water rushed over the boards. Not to be forgotten were the caves that seemed to go on forever; I wish I had brought a flashlight to explore further. At one point near the path, I essentially saw a sinkhole as the water funneled inside and disappeared. Despite my best efforts I could not seem to find where it exited. Keep this in mind: if you are expecting Niagara Falls, this natural treat may not be for you. While Plitvice does have one large waterfall, none surge with similar power or drop from such a high perch. However, Plitvice makes up for that loss of bulk by providing an artistic show that leaves you in awe. For one thing, the number of falls in the park could leave you satisfied for a lifetime but I kept on looking forward to the next lake to see what another crowd of falls could provide. Since I am not a geologist, I won’t bore you with extensive details or attempt to sound like I know what I am talking about but I will leave you with a small nugget of knowledge I found interesting. Being the Garden of Eden that it is, the falls are continuously changing and growing. With the type of rock the water flows on and through, it is frequently altering its path as it warps the earth through weathering and eroding. In between being taken aback by the beauty that laid before me, I kept thinking about how I needed a proper Croatian meal especially after eating my hastily prepared meals. I hungered for a good meal the whole ride back while holding off with some peanuts. I checked back into my hostel and ended up watching Italy lose 😦 with a guy from England that originally lived in Hungary. He shared some of his two liter beer with me as we watched the action. No, that was not a typo; the container looked like it could have been a 2L Coke bottle if not for the German beer label. For cheap beer, it did the job. After the game had commenced I could not wait any longer. With a map in hand and advice for where to look, I marched for the meal I looked forward to all day. I stumbled into a tiny supermarket to browse but figured I couldn’t really buy anything, even the ever growing idea of getting my own beer, since I would be eating and drinking at a decent restaurant. I chose to be patient. I roamed around the busy old town and could not find a genuine Croatian restaurant. With my stomach grumbling louder, I pulled into a Wok-and-go bar. I pathetically ate out of this Chinese take out container on the side of the street. This Chinese meal that was not even made by an Asian (is that racist?) did not fully satisfy. I got a not so appealing take out salad with tuna and planned to eat it at the hostel with the beer that would keep me company into the evening. I walked back to the hostel knowing that I would find at least one market. Being the lucky guy I am, not one single market was open. I looked through the glass windows into the cooler and saw the beer that I planned on calling my own; she beckoned to me but I could not rescue her from the clutches of the fridge. I left the scene heartbroken and wallowed in my cheap salad. Since I had not gotten a hair cut yet, I was excited about getting one tomorrow since I have some time before I leave for Venice. The friendly girl at the hostel crushed whatever hopes and dreams that I had by telling me tomorrow is a major holiday in Croatia. Needless to say, Anthony won’t be getting his hair cut tomorrow. As the only cheap option available for staying the night in Venice, a campsite nearby will have to do. I wish I could say I am making all this up but surprises keep on arriving around each and every corner.
Day 29: Plitvice