After a couple of evenings sitting in our free deck chairs (Thanks very much Lynne from Badminton) we have agreed we need to upgrade to something a bit more comfy and laid back. So this mornings objective is to head to Decathalon and shop up.
Unknown to us and much against our normal run of luck, Decathalon is actually on our way out of Zagreb. A bit of shopping done and dusted and with 2 very comfy chairs now on board we head in the direction of Plitvice Lakes National Park, with Jacinda programmed to AVOID toll roads, (these are very expensive in Croatia, the A4 from Gorcian to Zagreb about 120km cost us 9 euro).
Actually turned out to be a very easy drive and arrived in the Lakes Area early afternoon with another massive thunderstorm brewing ahead of us, needing to freeze up the freezer properly again and the possibility of doing some laundry as well as charging up laptop etc we campground this one.
Camp Bear GPS:44.94760 15.6372. Cost 150Kune (21 Euro) includes all services. Great facility, fresh bread delivered in the morning and owners will transport you too and from the National Park Gates.
The thunderstorm duly arrived, and we spent a relaxing couple of hours listening to the rain and watching all the Park day trippers arriving back to their motorhomes soaked to the skin.
Unfortunately for us the rain set in overnight before the laundry dried and we awoke to a pretty misty damp day, not at all what you want when you are going hiking in a National Park.
Everything we have read about the Lakes Park is that it is an incredibly popular place with parking at a premium and later in the season ( July August) it basically becomes a conga line around the main walks.
Taking this into account we left the camp reasonably early and drove the short distance to Gate 1 of the park, (parking for motorhome 70kune (10 euro) /day, cars however only pay 1euro/hr of stay.)
You also have to pay entry to this National Park ( Take note New Zealand DOC, and start making some of National Park Tourist Routes (Tongariro Crossing) user pays) and the cost is quite steep, 150kune/person(21 euro), this does however cover the cost of the electric boat trip back across the lake and the buses between the 3 different finish stations.
It is still raining, in fact has developed from a misty drizzle into steady rain. Confidently we decide that it will clear and anyway at least the waterfalls will be running.
What a magnificent place, once again this park has UNESCO listing and quite rightly is a highlight of Croatia’s Adriatic hinterland. Sixteen aquablue lakes tumble into each other via a series of waterfalls each named after Croatian artists. We had been sold “a butterfly experience as well from the guidebooks” unfortunately Croatian butterflies are the same as all other butterflies, they don’t like rain. (Nor does our camera)
The walk itself can be done from either end so oncoming traffic once again haunts Susie especially as she is taking photos, the full 18km of tracks around the lake can be shortened by taking boats across 1 of the biggest lake and by busing from the top lake back down to Gate 1, which is what we did still giving us a good 6km of walking. This is a brilliantly done experience with a lot of the track being boardwalk across the edges of the lakes and up and over some of the smaller cascades.
The water is obviously thermal but is so clear and such a deep blue in colour, hoping the photo’s do it justice. Instead of the butterflies today we had multicoloured unbrella’s which in its own way was quite cool.
By the time we had got of the first boat ride, the wet chill had set in so unfortunately had to take the bus home and get back to Miss Stella for a change of clothes and warm food, would have hated to have been on a tour bus for the afternoon, was very wet by lunchtime.
Including a very wet camera that took most of the afternoon in the sun before working again, fortunately no permanent damage done.
Even with the wet conditions and the decidedly drowned rat appearance it was well worth it however sunshine and warmer temperatures beckon a mere 150km away so we are heading towards Zadar on the Adriatic coast.
The change in country and scenery is dramatic as we come into the rocky and windy Adriatic coastal belt. Steep rocky ground covered with sparse matagouri type scrub, home to goats and not much else. The wind was the other thing and for a period of about 25km we were down to about 70km/hr really quite concerned about the side-on wind gusts. Not pleasant and seriously looking for somewhere to pull over and park up behind something.
Suddenly the country opens up onto the most amazing coastal scenery and the blue Adriatic seas.
We had several campsites noted here and failing to easily find the first two freecamps, we settled on Camp Borik GPS: 44.1345, 15.2144 Cost = 28euro incl all services, Right on the beach and an easy 15min cycle to the old city.
Zadar is typical of these cities with the “Old city behind walls” generally accessed by a bridge, and the new city grown inland from there.
A very tourist orientated “Old City” centred on Roman Ruins with very quaint narrow paved streets. A highlight and must see here was the sea organ on the promenade. Musical organ pipes have been built into the seawall and as the waves and wind come in it produces a very melancholy range of sounds.
Also another market that allowed us another shot at a favourite pastime “trying food” especially cheeses and salami’s, have found the market salami’s quite bland and sometimes fatty compered to the supermarket ones. Cheeses however are a different thing altogether and have become a real fan of a truffle infused local hard cheese, also dried figs, YUM.
Once again the evening was rounded out with our own special game of who can take the best sunset photo, results below.