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Our Favourite Place In Europe

 

What a surprise! This country’s lush green countryside was as beautiful as Southern France!

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It was very clean and tidy, with beautiful highways and modern conveniences everywhere. Very warm helpful people too, with a great sense of humour.

 

This country is relaxing, easy, friendly, and has fewer tourists than France, with the same gorgeous scenery.

 

Where are we? Croatia!

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Our destination that day, after getting lost and ending up in the wrong country… http://travellittleknownplaces.com/oops-wrong-country/was Plitvice, Croatia, home of the exquisite layered waterfalls.

 

It was pouring rain… 

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The mist hung over the forested hills… 

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But when the rain cleared the green of the hillsides shone…

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Then the sun came out showing the true brilliance of the green hills and valleys….

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We were struck by the unusual mixture of bright green trees with dark evergreen trees in the forests…

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When we saw the Plitvička Jezera National Park sign, we sighed in relief. We were almost there.

 

Little did we know that it was still a very very long drive on twisting mountain roads and through quaint villages, that went on for another two hours.

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The blind mountain curves were often scary…  with clouds sitting right over the highway…

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Along the way, we came around a corner to see this guy on a motorbike zigzagging crazily back and forth from side to side on the highway. Good thing we weren’t going fast! We slowed almost to a stop watching him in utter amazement. Exchanging glances of confusion, we wondered if he was drunk. All of a sudden, he realized we were right behind him, and scooted to the side of the road, alarmed and a little embarrassed. He was an older man, just playing on the empty road.

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We stayed right in Plitvička Jezera National Park at the Hotel Jezero, and we would highly recommend staying right inside the Plitvička Jezera National Park, as it would be extremely dangerous to drive the miles and miles of narrow winding dark highway at night.

 

The next morning we bought tickets (22C) and took the park train to the top of the 16 layered lakes. The price included the boat tour as well.

 

The train didn’t show much but we caught glimpses of the greenest lakes…

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There are a myriad of walking paths all around and between the lakes to see the waterfalls, so we got off the train and started walking down, and walking down, and walking down….

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A sign showing how the 16 lakes fall into each other…

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Along the way, there were some dramatic waterfalls, and the colour of the lakes was a staggering blue-green

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Water, water, water…. everywhere….

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Can you feel the spray on your cheek?

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Can you smell the mist in the fresh forest air?

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The way the lakes layered below each other, the waterfalls pouring down into each lake below, was like watching a can gently tipping into another can and another can and another…

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“WOW!” This word was repeated often. 

Did you notice the lake just above the larger one below?

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The drama of the giant layering waterfalls was in shocking contrast to the stillness of the lakes… 

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There were places a little tricky to manoeuvre where the water poured over the walkways…

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Loved the make-shift bridge….

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Every kilometer or so, the path would split, and there would be signs saying “train” or “boat” this way. We thought the boat would be nice, so we repeatedly took that path.

 

It was a lovely walk… for the first few kilometers, then it got tiring. We just wanted to get on the boat, but each time the path split, there would be another sign saying “boat” or “train”, and another sign and another…

 

Thank goodness there were benches here and there along the winding paths…

 

At one point, I sat on the wooden path to rest, and scooped the fresh clean water from one of the little water spouts all around me..

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It felt like the Garden of Eden…

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Everyone was lost. One couple told us it was still another hour’s walk down the path. What? Another hour??? Haven’t we been walking about six hours already???

 

Don’t they know people get lost here? I could very well see us spending the night here in the forest. 

 

A group of young boys were totally lost too. We had fun with them, pointing to an old row boat on the lake with no oars, saying “There’s the boat!”

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They didn’t speak a lot of English, but laughed at that. They were all arguing over which way to go, starting one direction, then turning and heading another direction, then back again. Hilarious.

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It wasn’t all down hill either. It was sort of winding up and down, sometimes with steep inclines up and then down.

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After four hours of walking, we finally came to the boat, which crossed several lakes with small waterfalls.

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The last boat took us nearer to the entrance, but it was still another long walk, uphill all the way, to get back to our hotel entrance.

 

We certainly had some good exercise, and had worked up a good appetite. The food at the Hotel Jezero Restaurant was tasty, the service excellent…

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The second night we hoped to try some traditional Croatian food at a restaurant called Villa Lika. Unfortunately, it had a fire last year and has closed.

 

Yes, Croatia was our favourite place in Europe.

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Not just the spectacular brilliant green lakes and waterfalls, but the rolling green hills and the coast too. Next time… maybe it would be fun to explore the islands off the coast…

 

Several days later, we took the main highways/freeways back to Trieste even though it was further, and guess what? We didn’t get lost once.

 

Tip: If you can’t or don’t want to walk for miles, start at the bottom of the Plitvice Lakes; the tiered lakes and waterfalls are most spectacular on the lower lakes

 

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Plitvice Lakes National Park

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Plitvice Lakes National Park 44.906893, 15.612548

 

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2 Responses to Our Favourite Place In Europe

  1. Wow – those amazing waterfalls are stunning……I had no clue such ‘layered lakes’ even existed. Cool walkways, but definitely sounds like a lotttttt of walking …. smiles. Labelling it was your favourite place of all….quite the endorsement 😉

    • travellittleknownplaces says:

      We loved all of Croatia, not just Plitvice Falls, though they were spectacular. Venice is my favourite city in Europe, but T loved Croatia most. It was so much more relaxing there – fewer tourists, fewer big cities, fewer cars – just more rural, and very green.

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