Up and Out in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

We were halfway up a steep ramp when Ian suspected that it was the wrong turn. He put the car to a stop and checked the map, which confirmed his thought: we needed to turn around. 

As soon as Ian started the car again, it slid backwards. The ramp was way too steep. He had to use the hand break, and I gasped for air. A minute later, we tried again by releasing both breaks and the car rolled further back towards the main road with a cliff on the other side.

That was how the mountain welcomed us to Plitvice Lakes National Park - the gem of centre Croatia.

We didn't go into the traffic or fall off the cliff, but it was the first time I felt unnerved when Ian sat behind the wheel. The car was a rental - an unfamiliar model we picked up in Zagreb a couple of hours earlier. The incident did not, however, spoil our trip. It was instead one more thing to remind us of such a good time. 

Our bed&breakfast was high up on the mountain, so high up that it called for two incidents before we finally arrived. It offered a great view over green forest land, though. 

Near our bed and breakfast, a little stream ran into a flat basin, forming an indulging swimming pool for beginners like me. 

The water was fresh, clear and mostly waist high. Looking down and you would catch glimpses of some tiny fish. They were some fast swimmers. At the centre of the basin, water flowed gently on top of a half rock, half sand bed. Closer to the edge, the current was stronger but not so much to stop you from venturing out, sitting on a rock and watching the falling white bubbles. Ian loved doing that, but I was too timid to join him often. 

As we stayed fairly close to the park, we reckon the water of Plitvice lakes must be at least as amazing as that of our "backdoor pool".  You can imagine how gutted we were to find out visitors were not allowed to swim in those famous lakes.  

 Plitvice from higher up

Plitvice from higher up

Though nothing could make up for the lack of an indulgent dip, the magic colours of the lakes and the abundance of distinctive dragonflies were fair rewards for hikers to Plitvice. 

The day after we arrived, we went hiking around the park for four hours, which included a short boat ride. 

Most of the time, we were either behind or in front of other tourists because it was July and it seemed that the whole world flocked there. We saw many Asian groups and heard quite a few different American accents. 

Before going, I read enough complaints about how the crowd ruined the tranquility of the park. I would indeed prefer exploring the park accompanied by fewer tourists or even just among the two of us, but who I am to refuse others of the chance to see such a peaceful and beautiful natural wonder. 

While in Croatia, why don't make a trip south to visit Dubrovnik as well. It's a historic city with a lot more than a few Game of Thrones sets.