In which SWMBO laments that dramatic and adventurous destinations are so difficult to get to.
In 2006, we visited Plitvice National Park, Croatia and were awed. A UNESCO World Heritage Site we had never heard of – man was it impressive. It was one of our MUST re-do items for this trip. Even when we found out it would cost over $100 Cdn to get into the park for the day. Even when the weather was iffy. Even though it was 2 1/2 hours away from Zagreb.
Our CS friends from Samobor set us up with friends close to Plitvice with a holiday apartment for rent. We headed over and spent the night before driving the 25 kilometres to the park. The park has multiple entrances and coming from our homestay, we would be entering via one of the lesser entrances. Ergo, we would be driving on a crazy Balkan mountain road. I have always suffered from vertigo. Any possibility of going over an edge somewhere freaks me out. Planes are fine. But standing on top of Harlech Castle in Wales is not fine. Neither are mountain roads where there is a sheer cliff to one side and four token large rocks to “keep you from going over the edge”. I am talking roads one car wide where traffic goes both ways. And lunatics from Sweden pulling trailers follow their gps down this route because it is the most direct. It was an AWFUL drive to the park.
Of course Plitvice was stunning. Those UNESCO dudes know how to give a stamp of approval. The lakes are eerily turquoise, the forests are quiet, the waterfalls are not. There are so many visitors and yet you are never more than a minute away from solitude. The price is ridiculous but includes boat and bus shuttles within the park. And yey! More Eastern European nonsense rules. Pay $36 pp to get in, but only use each section of the shuttle once. Why? Who knows. It is complicated to explain but let me just say that this rule is majorly inconvenient to about 1/2 the visitors. And causes lots of arguments between the visitors and the staff. Not that I want to, but could you pay a few kunas more and do the same stretch again? NIET. BTW – they don’t say that here. I just use it for effect.
Also, the path will fork and you will choose to either bear right or left. If you pick correctly, you will come to the dock and get on the boat. If you do it wrong, you will come to the dock but the attendant will refuse to stamp your ticket and and let you step on. You will have to hike back up and around. Could they put a sign at the fork telling you which way to go? NIET. Again, about 50% of people are inconvenienced…
Okay – the park was awesome but as soon as we arrived, I discovered that we would have to go back on the same road to get to the highway. And, the honest truth is that the whole rest of the day was spent dreading the drive back. For me. Others had fun. But not that much fun. It was raining off and on and we were all exhausted. After about 10 days of rest. But as I said before, we have hit a wall and need to rest. We all know it and are getting a little resentful of all the skeptical looks we get from people we meet. Surely most adult humans know about go-go-going and then stopping and not being able to restart? Have none of these people been to uni and made it to spring break only to crash and get the flu? Unfortunately, we have a few more days to push before we stay put and rest.
The plan after the park was to drive just over the border into Bosnia and spend the night. Then drive about 3 hours to Sarajevo (Bosnia). Sarajevo is a city I really wanted to see in 2006 and it’s still top of the list. It’s one of those places (Hoi An, Mostar, Istanbul, Porto, Prague) where if you poll every single person who has ever been there, they all have only positive things to say. No matter which type of person you ask. Then carry on to Mostar (Bosnia) and end in Split (Croatia). A very nice 5 day journey. But the drive out of the park was a reality check. I suffered a panic attack and it wasn’t pretty. Not pretty at all. Now way, no how. Let’s just say sobbing and begging to be let out of the car.
I am not sure how much you know about Bosnia but it is mountainous and the roads aren’t the best. Understatement on both counts. We made a split second decision to completely change course and head for the Croatian coast and the super-highway (toll). For the first time on our trip, we had no pre-booked accommodation. Which, by the way, is our normal way of travelling but not so feasible with a group of 7 or 8. We drove all the way to Zadar and scored a great “Zimmer frei” on our first try. We would have stayed four days but they were booked. We hooked into the internet to find somewhere for the following four days and found a simple apartment 150 metres from the beach on the Croatian island of Pasman (not PacMan).
The ferry ride was 25 minutes from Zadar and the island is very nice. Nice. Sigh.