One Day in Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
You Should Know Before Visiting Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
I seek the treasure in Silver Lake. The place can't be fancy enough for that. That's probably what the filmmakers of the Karl May film adaptations in the 1960s thought when they were looking for the perfect location and stumbled across the Plitvice Lakes. The national park in Croatia has an exceptional landscape. The 16 Plitvice Lakes, together with the waterfalls, form a harmonious lake landscape. That they found the Silver Lake here is hardly surprising to me and whether I will find the treasure is still written in the stars.
First, I will explore Zagreb.
Free walking tour in Zagreb
It's a pretty lonely lot among the early birds. All I want is a coffee and a little snack. While I'm still a bit sleepy and stumbling around Zagreb, unfamiliar with the place, I probably only find empty streets and not my luck. I am about to decide to go to McDonald's when I finally come across a café and see my breakfast within reach. The freshly squeezed carrot-orange juice is excellent in the kitchen, and I sip my cappuccino with great pleasure. In the bakery next door, I get a muffin and a croissant. This morning I don't need to rush and slurp on my hot drink in local tradition for almost three-quarters of an hour. At the Dolac vegetable market, just around the corner, it gets busier and busier. I climb up the stairs to the market and stand right in the middle of the crowd. It is tempting to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, but I am just passing through and wouldn't know where to put the right things.
Meanwhile, the sun slowly rises over the houses and warms up the so far so pleasantly fresh day incessantly. In the shadow of Zagreb's cathedral, I endure it for a while and return to the hostel to escape the midday sun.
Only in the afternoon, I dare to go out on the street again. The temperatures are still unbearable, but my urge to discover has slowly increased. I walk zigzag through the city and more or less quickly end up at the "Museum of Broken Relationships." An exciting concept for a museum I have to note. An object from a broken relationship and the story behind it. From a toaster over playing cards to an axe, it extensively reduced the aggressions left behind furniture after the separation.
I'm not brushed for riot and have a more human touch. So I join the "Free Walking Tour" and let myself be guided through the city for two hours. Of the many sightseeings, I keep the restaurant recommendation of the guide for later infirm memory.
Hiking around the Plitvice Lakes
Today I'll start a little more moderate. At least with time. I've joined an agency. Sure, I would have come to Plitvice for almost half of the money and at least as fast, but laziness didn't let me plan the day before, and so I pay the price. The national park compensates for everything. I was told about the beauty some time ago, and what I can expect does not disappoint my expectations.
I love hiking, and I am also in full preparation for my next bigger tour on the Elbrus together with ElbrusTours. So it is perfect for me to spend a day here. The bus of the national park lets me out at the resting place at the upper lakes. A wooden footbridge leads to the first lake and meanders along with it. With the camera at the stop, I am still much too excited and surprised at the beginning. I flit over the footbridge with the feeling of missing something. Overwhelmed, and with great excitement, which still awaits me, I follow the first small waterfalls downhill. After only a few meters, the sweat is on my forehead. I was not surprising with over 32°C and blazing sun.
Nevertheless, the day is optimal. All lakes shine in a striking turquoise. Even the pictures can not reproduce the colors.
In some sections, the crowds of tourists are almost unpleasant. The narrow footbridges do not give any space for evasion, and so it gets jammed. I can understand groups of people. One cannot miss this highlight. It is easy to reach, and most of the time, it is also very well arranged for pedestrians. But the stairs are a bit much for the prams, and my understanding of this is limited.
Nevertheless, one should not be lazy when walking. The lake landscape, wedged in the mountains, stretches over several kilometers. If you want to take a shortcut, you can use the two bus lines or the two ferry connections.
I skip the ferry because of the long waiting time and retreat into the relative loneliness on the big lake (Jezero Kozjak). The many detours of the lake are quite a challenge, and although I already see the destination, it takes me almost 40 minutes to reach it. The electric ferries glide silently past me at some distance. Only the highway in the distance can sometimes be heard. I enjoy nature and watch the many butterflies in the grass. Now and then, a lizard scurries across the path and disappears with a rustling in the reeds.
While most of the upper lakes were small and charming, the lower lakes opened up a whole new landscape. The lakes are wedged into steep slopes of limestone. The height of the waterfalls becomes more and more impressive and reaches its peak with the big waterfall with 78 meters. I don't miss the chance to visit the single viewpoint above the waterfall and collect my last impressions of the national park. They stand out of the green forest, the white rocks, and the soft blue and slightly cloudy sky.
With almost 16 kilometers in my legs, I reach the bus again. Well, air-conditioned it is a kind of reward for the effort. Back in Zagreb, I remember the restaurant recommendation of my guide and get served the biggest reward after this wonderful hike: traditional Croatian strukli (Zagorski Štrukli) with truffles.
I have found my treasure and probably earned it at Silver Lake.