This year for Christy’s birthday we wanted to go on an excursion. Way back in Seville, we met a fellow traveller who has since become a really good friend. We keep running into each other throughout our travels and Croatia was no different. She met a group of girls who were headed to Plitvice Lakes for the weekend. Um, perfect. We packed our things, jumped on the bus and 5 hours later we were at our campgrounds.
Our new friends found a campground not far from the park that had “luxury teepees” for the modest price of €50 per night….for a teepee (or ‘tipi’)….It didn’t matter though. This was birthday week and we were going to have an amazing time.
Straight away we drop our things off, grab our camera gear, and head to the camp’s entrance to catch a bus to the lakes. The less than helpful front desk told us to just stand at the bus station and wave down passing buses to catch a ride. Sounds simple enough.
We make our way outside and as the bus approaches we wave it down. Kindly, they wave back as they blow past us. Hmmm. A second bus approaches and this time we redouble our efforts. Jumping up and down, waving our arms like idiots we catch the bus’ attention. This time we’re greeted with a point, a laugh, and a forceful gust of wind as the bus plows right on by.
At this point we’re pretty pissed off and since the buses were of no help, I figured to do the next best thing.
With a shot of liquid courage, we decide to try our luck at hitchhiking. Parents, if you’re reading this, just skip down to the pretty pictures. Thumbs out and arms waving, we watch as several disinterested drivers leave us high and dry. It’s time we come up with a game plan. We conclude that nobody wants to pick me up on the side of the road, but would so much rather help out four girls with beers in hand. So, I hide.
A nice looking guy with a big empty car nods and smiles as he zips past us. Crestfallen we begin to think of what else we could do in the area besides the park. As we’re mapping out dismal option number two, that same guy from before pulls up behind us!
Bingo. With half full beers, we all pile into this stranger’s car. As he’s helping us into the vehicle we discover this.
Great. Here we are, hitchhiking, with open containers, in a cop’s car. Our driver speaks no English but we manage to let him know we are indeed seeking a ride to Plitvice Lakes and not the nearest jail.
The five happiest people to ever be arrested.
Just kidding. We made it to the park safe and intact. The taxi cop did extort from us 110 kuna (~$16) though for the lift. 110 kuna might seem like a bit of a random number, but this wasn’t the first time this cop had given lifts to wayward tourists. Our return taxi ride was metered at 109.50!
We made our way into the park and all of our trials and tribulations were totally worth it. I’ll stop rambling for a minute and let you soak up the raw and sheer beauty that is Plitvice Lakes.
Straight away you can see the beauty of the park from above. The path to the ferry gives you a glimpse of what all the park has to offer.
Per a friend’s recommendation, we headed straight to the ‘C’ path and hopped on the ferry to the north end of the park.
Once across, you are greeted with cascading waterfalls surrounded by the lushest flora you have ever seen.
A perfect mirror, the lake reflects the tree hanging overhead.
The wildlife thrive in such a pristine environment. It was a true joy to bear witness to such purity.
Our return journey was much less eventful and we settled in for the evening. True to character, we drank lots of wine and had a really great time with music and good new friends.
Morning came early and although we had planned on going kayaking, the weather was looking rather bitchy and wanted to rain on our parade. But we said you know what weather? We’re going to go no matter what you say or do and we might freeze and get caught in torrential downpour, but we’re going fucking kayaking because that’s what we wanna do. Enough said. We piled into the van— this time it was owned and operated by the tour company and not some random dude on the side of the road.
The ride to the river was great. Our driver was incredibly knowledgeable when it came to Croatian history. We learned of the war and its fallout. He showed us abandoned buildings that had suffered grenade attacks. He also told us with a heavy heart about the pressure Monsanto is putting on the corrupt Croatian government to be able to poison their country.
Upon arrival to the tour grounds, we suited up, loaded our waterproof barrels, and made way to the river. Our tour guide was great, our driver was great, even the weather was pretty great. We had the best time. Christy spat in the face of her fear of heights once more and jumped from the falls into the river. Woot!
At the end of the trip, we hung out back at the tour camp with our guide and some of the other employees. We grubbed down on some of the best cherries I have ever eaten, ate walnuts grown on the tree that hung overhead, played with puppies, and even learned a bit of Croatian.
We parted ways with our guide and made our way back to our luxury teepees. This night, we hung out in the teepees and played our Croatian rendition of “ring of fire.” Lots of wine to be had and stories to be spilled, we slept that night with full bellies and hearts.
On our final day, we putzed about for a bit, nursing our hangovers. About midday we decided to go for a little stroll down the road towards some caves. We did what we do best and loaded up our bag with some booze and made our way down the road. The Croatian countryside is as beautiful as its parks.
We meandered for several hours before making our way towards the next closest town. Our aim was to find some better cuisine than what was offered at our campground. We found a huge restaurant, bigger than any I have seen yet in Croatia, and sat down with empty stomachs. Much to our dismay, this gargantuan restaurant only served booze? WTF?
Not to be defeated, we ordered a round. I went next door with one of the girls on a mission to find something to eat. We returned with some of the world’s worst pizza. Microwaved and covered in a blanket of greasy rubber, the pizza could not even be classified as food. Drinks down and pizza finished, we made our way back to our campground.
The path this time was down a busy highway. With only 1km to trek, we booked it— jumping off the shoulder whenever a car came blasting towards us. Home safe and sound, we completed our stay with another delicious dinner at the gourmet cafe. More wine and games to be had, we then rounded the night out with a bit of stargazing.
In the morning, we parted ways with our new friends who were heading to Vienna. The bus ride back to Split was over in a flash and we passed out hard and fast. I think this was Christy’s best birthday yet.