The greeting as you enter the country known as Croatia.
So after about a half a days hiking in the beautiful Plitvice Lake National Park I decided to take a small drive. Exploring the neighbouring villages and seeing that I did rent a car and this is an absolute luxury. So I drove through an area that did not look as pleasing to the eye as what I have been grown use to the last 24 hours in this country. Over here the hard evidence of some gun shots still sits on the building facades of once lovely homes I would assume. The local community also looked more modest than the touristy areas and the buildings are more desolate. Looks like a building project that did not fully taken off and others have just collapsed. If this is partly because of the war or just bad structural design I am not sure. But this did trigger some curiosity about the history of this country.
Before I continue on the history of the country or the lovely park I visited. Let me say this. Not too sure if I want to have been jailed in Republic of Bosnia & Herzegovina or Republic of Croatia as something on my travel CV. So as I took a drive this afternoon, I was looking on the GPS and saw this town that had a bigger symbol than the small villages I have visited and it seemed like a great plan to maybe explore the supermarkets in a bigger town. So as I am approaching these toll gate looking buildings over the road I reached for my purse and on my arrival asked the guy in the window how much I owe him for the toll gate. He looked at me and say “this is border”. Surely must have had the biggest confused face in the world mixed with some hidden anxiety at that moment. I was on the border between Croatia and Bosnia! And then the questioning started. Because as it is I was just taking a small ride after my day in the Park and did not have my passport with me off course. Luckily my ID card was with me and I just tried to make sure that the man who does not really speak english understand that I do not want to cross the border and that I did thought this was a toll gate. So luckily after answering all the questions they had for me I received my ID card back and off I go. Back into Republika Hrvatska. Close call.
Goodness I have seen so many lakes and waterfalls the last few days I can write a book about it. Although I did make so many amazing plans to sneak into the Plitvice National Park and take a dip at the one spot close to a very pretty waterfall. Which could have cost me a €200 fine. Luckily things worked out differently and the horse riding lady gave me some super advise about going to Rastoke and swim in the river there. It was 34 deg C at that time, but the water must have been 10. It was so cold that I could not even scream when I eventually gathered enough guts to jump in. Oh, did I mention that I had to do all of this in my underwear. Totally rocked that one. People did stare a little. Blue panties. Flesh colour bra. Ha! Rastoke is a beautiful village and has waterfalls running almost through the houses. Definitely worth a visit. Sometimes refered to as small Plitvice.
Anyone in the Zadar Plitvice area. Lulic car rentals are amazingly priced. They also do not ask any deposit. 28 Jezera in Jezera is an amazing spot to camp or park your camper or rent some rooms from Airbnb. Close to the bus stop and Entrance 2. Horse riding just before Slunj also worth a try. Equestrian Centre Rastoke. Take an easy ride through the forest on single track paths. Lovely and friendly Mirna guiding the experience.
If you do have a problem deciding on Plitvice or Krka National Parks. Well it is tough to say which one. Both are so exquisite. Plitvice is more tropical and very touristy. Especially around Entrance 1. But very beautiful if you visit the park for a few days and you get to hike all the back roads and enjoy the beautiful nature. Krka has one big advantage, you can take a swim at two spots close to the waterfalls. On a hot day, this trumps all odds. This Park is also closer to Split. Personally I am very grateful that I could see most of both parks.
After getting lost so many times while having the car in Croatia. I just realised. It is only in being lost that you can be found. That when you think you are sure of your location, then you do not seek for the way anymore. In not seeking for the way one kind of sometimes think you are on the way and then has taken a little detour again…
To all the friendly locals in Croatia helping me enjoying this beautiful place. Thank you! Lady at the passport control in Zadar Airport. You look sad. Please eat more ice cream.