Sunday, May 27, 2007
Plitvice Jezera National Park
KIM: Wow, we had a wonderful day today in Plitvice! From the Brncic's home in Tribalj/Pecca near Crikvenica we traveled about two hours southeast over the mountains into lake country. On a whim, we invited Anastasia's cousin Brankica. She turned out to be a really great travel partner! We all felt we had known each other for a lifetime. She even shared our rather twisted sense of humor! Her English is superb, so we learned a lot from her and we all had a great time! We arrived at a large, touristy and over-priced hotel in the park late last night. After an over-priced meal in the hotel dining room, we all fell into bed anticipating an early breakfast and an early start on the park trails in order to beat all of the commercial tour groups. Our plan was sound and we had a three hour, nearly solitary hike through some of the most beautiful scenery any of us had ever scene. No words can do this justice. The photos help, but you just can't imagine how overwhelmingly beautiful the view is at each turn of the trail! Just amazing. It got to the point after just a few minutes that we couldn't remember the last most beautiful thing we saw! Brankica even told us about some of the folk legends specific to each of the lakes. Stories about gypsies, trolls and gnomes. Very cool! The trout in the lake were lazy and fat, some were about two feet long! There were bullfrogs, blue butterflies that we called jewel-bugs, snakes, and even these amazing lizards on neon colors! We left the park about 1pm and drove Brankica back to Senj, just south of her parents' home, where they graciously picked her up, saving us about an hour of backtracking. Then, after a tearful goodbye with Paula, Brankica's mother, we were on our way to Split... nearly 300km to the south. It was a long trip and we didn't have a place to stay set up ahead of time, but we found a local woman at the ferry terminal fishing for houseguests like us. She has a tiny little apartment in the old part of town which is just perfect (and fairly cheap) for folks waiting to head out on the am ferry for the islands. The trick was finding it! We had to navigate narrow and winding little cobblestone roads and park at the top of a narrow lane, so tight that we're not sure that the cars parked beyond our rental can get out! Well, we're leaving at 6:30am, so maybe we won't inconvenience anyone. After parking the car, we still had to drag our bags down several blocks of pedestrian-only stairs and lanes. It's quite a place! Hopefully we will have a bit of time in the morning to explore Diocletian's palace (an ancient Roman ruin right in the main part of the old town) before we board the ferry in the morning for the Island of Hvar!