BootsnAll Travel Network

Plitvice Lakes: The Other Dimension

After a night in a dogdy Zagreb hostel, Bec and I caught a bus to the Plitvice National Park, about 2.5 hours South West of Zagreb and home to the spectacular Plitvice Lakes. The bus made its way out of the city, and gradually the landscape turned from industrial to mountainous. We moved further and further up into the dense forest and fog, and once again saw the mountains playing hide and seek with the clouds.

I looked out the front of the bus and saw nothing but white, before the two yellow eyes of a truck came roaring out of the nothingness and whizzed by. I’m not sure if it was because of the fog, but after two hours of travel, when the conductor pointed in our direction and quickly blurted out something that sounded like Plitvice, Bec and I nearly got off the bus too early, as did an Aussie solo traveller named Ross who was also headed to the National Park. We got to chatting, and shortly after did arrive at our stop, and the three of us walked through the misty rain to a house advertising a room, and got ourselves an apartment with a double bed, and a fold-out couch.

The next morning was a similarly misty, cloudy, rainy, just bloody wet day. The Plitvice Lakes are a series of 16 different lakes, all at progressively lower levels, and joined by a series of spectacular waterfalls. When we first hit the trail, rugged up in rain coats, still high up in the hills, we could hear a huge waterfall hidden somewhere inside the cloud ahead of us. As we moved down the path, the cloud dissipated a little, and we found ourselves almost alone, walking along a wooden walkeay raised just above the water level of a deep turqoise green lake. The path led across the water with a 3 meter high waterfall stretching right across the lake just meters to our left, until it crashed into the cliffs on the other side.

It felt as though we were intruding into Mother Nature’s backyard.

The rickety wooden path led around the side of the cliff face forming the edge of the lake, and down to the base of the huge waterfall we had heard at the top.Water tumbled over the cliff top, 78 meters above us, and crashed into the water at our feet. What an amazing sight.

The three of us followed the path back up, and from waterfall to beautiful lake, to the next waterfall, to the next deep green lake. It was amazing. This went on for the next hour or so, before we had to catch a ferry across a lake to continue the path.

As the clouds had lifted, so had we, as we moved up the waterfalls, and we found the lake we needed to cross covered in a low mist as though the cloud was hanging onto the lake surface with just its finger-tips. The ferry before us left the banks, and slowly, silently, drifted out into the fog to be swallowed whole.

Our ferry followed, and it felt as though we were moving into some parallel dimension where time didn’t exist, and people communicated through song, like some bizarre Eastern European musical. See, let me explain.

The glassy water seemed to move ever so slightly around the boat in both directions, so that if you looked at it closely you could not tell if the boat was moving forwards or backwards. It was as though we were still, and the water was simply moving around us. The tree-lined bank not 40 meters away was barely visible. Then, just to make things that little bit more surreal, the other passengers, about 25 or so all aged at least 55, and from an unknown East European country, began singing as one.

At first, I thought it may have been a national anthem – it had that slow drone to it that only a national anthem can.But after the first song, they began another, and then another, the end of each one celebrated with a loud “Wooooooooooo……hoo!!!”

The elderly lady in front of us, perhaps in her mid 70’s, stood up and began clapping along with the beat. A man in his early 60’s then began passing around an unmarked plastic drink bottle filled with slivovic. the same plum brandy we had drank with ‘The Big Boss’ back in Sarajevo. Potent stuff.

These old codgers were sauced!

He approached our seats with a little bit of slivovic left in the bottle. Ross was seated closest, and the old man tried to hand him the bottle to drink. Ross smiled and shook his head holding up his hand palm out to indicate he didn’t want any. The guy replied with some European language, most probably Croatian I guess. We couldn’t understand his words, but from his gestures I’m sure he was saying something along the lines of “Go on. You must. You must drink!”

He then left us in no doubt as to two things – one, this bottle of slivovic was no ordinary bottle, and two, this guy really was sauced. He took his foled up umbrella, and held it between his legs, so he looked like a well hung statue. Forcing the bottle into Ross’ hand and motioning for him to drink, he then raised the umbrella from its flaccid position until it stood proud like a cannon defending the coast line.

That’s right folks, forget viagra, homemade plum brandy from the Balkans is the answer to all your problems.

What else could we do but drink it?

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