Today we visited one of the main attractions in Croatia - and the main reason we visited this country to begin with - Plitviče Lakes National Park! Fortunately, we keep our schedule ever flexible because following this day, the next five days or so are supposed to bring torrential rains. We had originally planned to visit the park on Monday, but moved it up to Sunday so we could take advantage of the last of the beautiful weather for awhile. Thank goodness we did because this place is almost too perfect to be real and seems plucked straight from a fairytale with its Kool-Aid blue water, endless waterfalls, and carpets of lush green moss. Here's the Pinterest photo that inspired us to visit this park...
Yes, it really is as beautiful in person as it is in this glamour shot. You can see why we wanted to go on a sunny day when the light reflects off the clear, turquoise water just perfectly. We tried desperately to find this exact vantage point but never could, and now we're certain the above photo was captured via drone. We did manage to find a somewhat hidden trail, thanks to advice from a friendly San Francisco couple we met at Buza Bar in Dubrovnik two nights before. The key to enjoying the park, they said, is to get there right when it opens at 7am. See the big waterfall first and then work your way up to the upper lakes. The tour bus rush begins at about 10am and then the trails become so crowded, you can barely pose for a picture. They were right!
Here's a pic of us with the big waterfall in the distance, just as you enter the park from Entrance 1.
And a view of another stunner on the way to the "big" one. Beauty everywhere you look, no big deal.
Directly in front of the big one...
The steep hidden trail takes you up alongside and then behind the biggest waterfall in the park, where we foolishly climbed to the edge and kept a death grip on one small tree for a magnificent view.
Then it was time to move on to the many other waterfalls in the enormous park, with 16 equally gorgeous lakes to admire along the way.
It was a wonderfully exhausting day. We spent 11 hours in the park and Hirsh's fitness tracker on his phone recorded 24,000 steps (11.5 miles)!!! Thankfully, the endless beauty mostly distracted us from more physical exertion than either of has done in a very long time.
In desperate need of a real meal after three straight meals of gas station/supermarket sandwiches, we treated ourselves to a hot meal of homemade beef and noodle soup and beef cevapi at Babic, a restaurant five minutes from our guesthouse and recommended by our hostess. It really hit the spot.
Sore all over, we turned in early and treated ourselves once more... this time to the welcome shots of brandy our guesthouse hostess had gifted us the day before. We were saving them for a special occasion, which we had not anticipated would be pain control.