Saturday, April 02, 2016

Croatia (May/June 2015) - Part 2

May 24, 2016 - Our time in Zagreb had ended in now it was time to drive to the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park, this massive forest reserve located in central Croatia, and on our way to the Adriatic coast.  Guys, it really doesn't matter if you are a nature lover or not, this place is a must when visiting Croatia.  There walkways and hiking trails for all tastes and difficult levels.

The idea was to spend the day in Plitvice and then drive down to Zadar to see the famous sunsets in this coastal city.  There is no way to get lost, at least that was what we thought, but unfortunately because nor-days we are so used to follow technology instead of our instincts, we ended up arriving a bit later than expected - thanks Google Maps.  Anyway, we drove down E65 and then we were supposed to follow #1 all the way to the park, but instead we made a detour and took #23 and #42.   Truthfully it was actually nice since we had to drive thru these little towns and picturesque areas. 

Just to give you an idea, there are 16 lakes in the park, divided between the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes.  Since it was May, the rain was on and off and the wooden path in the canyon had been closed due to rainfall from previous days.  There are many hiking trails to choose from, and make sure you know where you are going because you might get surprise where you end up.  There are 2 entrances and that's where you decided which path you are going to take, and they are named after letters (A to K), and the route will be displayed and also the average time to complete such route, ranging from 2 to 8 hours.

We decided to do the short walk (2 hours) that would take us thru different panoramic paths, waterfalls and finally an electric-boat ride that would takes us to the entrance #2 and then a bus ride back to where we started. Pretty much visiting the lower lakes area, and it was not sunny but neither rainy, I would say perfect weather for a nice hike.   

The place is just stunning, and I was feeling a bit unhappy of my decision of doing only the short walk with the girls instead of going for the long one.  I was telling myself I probably wasn't have another chance to return to this place and I was right there, why not do it?   Anyway, we walked along the top of the canyon towards the boat pick up point to cross the lake.  There were tons of tourists, and this was not even hight season, so I just imagine how this place must be packed during the Summer, and we also meet loads of Chinese tourists that probably were in their first trip abroad.

The boat ride was fun and the view was just magnificence, and when we got to the other side we started to walk on the wooden paths that literally touched the lake you were walking on.  There were water falls, caves, footbridges, and the turquoise coloured lakes must be incredibly stunning in sunny days.  I just kept on taking pictures and following the girls towards the bus pick up point to go back to the main entrance.  

The more we walked the more beautiful the place becomes, and please guys, don't try to walk in flip flops, you are going to regret it if you do because the place is wet with lots of mud.  Finally after so much walking I stopped, looked around and realized of a minor mistake the girls had done - or perhaps they were planing to surprise me all along.  They had missed the exit towards the bus and kept on walking towards the Higher Lakes, we were on our route towards the longest hike and at this point the best was to finish the walk instead of going back.  It was already raining and the girls were ultra wet, and although they were feeling miserable because of the rain, internally I was happy because we got to do the long path.
We made the entire trail in probably 6 hours, which was not bad, and then it was time to go back to the car and keep on going towards Zadar. I was on a schedule since we need to arrive before sunset.

Easy drive to Zadar, pretty much a toll highway (E71 and E65), and get ready to go thru a long tunnel and very windy areas, plus the secondary road (424).  Why Zadar? Many years ago I saw in youtube a video about this interesting Sea organ that had been built in the Adriatic Sea, and this is the reason boys and girls that Croatia got in my hit list.  This city was first settle back in 9th century BC, and in the old town you are able to see the great Roman influence of the 5th largest city in the country.

Although we were going to spend only one night in this city, we wanted to do it in style, thus we rented a penthouse not too far from the old town (Sunset Penthouse Apartment).  Our temporary landlord had to come to pick us up because we couldn't actually find where the place was located.  We made it just in time to get to our place but not enough time to walk to old town to see the sunset, and to tell you the truth it was cozier to see it from our fantastic terrace, surrounded by good friends and amazing wine.

After the sunset I took the girls to the Sea Organ, and the sounds were as majestic as I expected, it felt like nature was speaking to you with sounds  Further down it was fun to spend some time at the Monument of the Sun, where the idea is that nature is communicating with lights.

There are several areas to visit, cathedrals, bell tower, monuments, Roman ruins, market, but best of all just a good place to chill out, eat good food and drink good wine.  Loved the city and highly recommend it to anyone.  Our next quick stops were Sibenik and Trogir, final destination been Split.

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