Plitvička Jezera, Croatia
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Plitvička jezera (Plitvicka lakes) is a National Park area in Croatia. It has been treated specially by the government since the late 1800s and is a UNESCO site, meaning it has special heritage to all nations of the world. And yet my guidebook doesn’t mention it.
The park is about 2 hours outside of Zagreb and is about 3 hours outside of Split. That makes it an optimal stopover in between the two. The only public transport is by bus. So I headed to the station to get my ticket, hopped on the bus and informed the conductors where I was headed and sat back and relaxed.
About 2.5 hours later we went by a bunch of signs for the park, then the signs lessened. I went to inquire as to when we’d be getting to the park and was told that I was supposed to signal the driver just before the stop. That seemed a bit counter-intuitive for a tourist destination because if you know where you’re going you’re probably not a tourist. So I was let off at the next stop where I caught a bus going the other way.
An Austrian woman was busy trying to convince the driver that yes, in fact, she did want to go to the park and to please let her off at the entrance. He feigned ignorance of the place. “I don’t know which is right stop. You tell me when.” She protested and finally convinced him that he’d be worse off by making it hard on her than by just complying. I took advantage of that and got off with her and the very well marked entrance with large signs, nearly impossible to miss if you’d driven the route even once.
Once inside the park, there are trams and ferries to get you around from place to place. There is also a wooden board walk that navigates the area. It’s well marked and there are several different suggested routes with estimated times to complete. The place is very well run.
The lakes are mineral lakes and come from deep springs, or so I’m told. In between each is a waterfall. The unique topology and mineral deposits apparently make this possible. It reminded me of Yellowstone National Park in the US.
The park is serene and peaceful and you can spend hours there. I’d suggest going in the morning – maybe even overnighting there. A number of hotels, hostels and private rooms dot the area surrounding. It would make a perfect stopover between Split and Zagreb.