Plitvice Lakes, Split and Good-Byes

Upon arriving at the Croatian border, Carlos our tour guide was asked for some documents that he was nervous about and we had to wait at the border for about an hour until the border control asked Carlos where his passengers were primarily from and when he said Australia, UK and the states, they said “Two beers for us please and we let you go.” He gladly got them the beer from our cooler and they totally let us through! What a sweet job they have, just demanding beverages from motorists for border passage. We had a long laugh about that and Carlos was very relieved. We drove what felt like ages before stopping for a rest at the open air Balkan war museum in some tiny Croatian village. Apparently the story is that the Croatian people wanted to stop the Slavs from entering their town with the tanks and wanted to protest the war and they all fought against the Slavs and kept them out of the village for two whole days.

The tanks and other army machines are still in that spot to commemorate the people of the village. The building next to the museum is absolutely chock full of bullet holes and it’s so hard to imagine a huge massacre war happening right where we were standing in beautiful Croatia.

Along the drive you can see so many abandoned houses that the Muslims left or were dragged from and nobody still lives in them because they have been “tainted” by Muslims and nobody wants to live there.
The winding drive through Croatia was gorgeous and we stopped at a little town called Grad Slunj to take a look at these waterfalls that run directly through the houses that were built on top of them.

I couldn’t believe how well the infrastructure of the houses was built around the waterfalls and decided that whoever lived in those houses would probably have to pee 24/7. After Grad Slunj, we got into the Plitvice Lakes area and checked into our camp ground, including our cute bungalows that we would all be sleeping that night.

We were hoping to have a BBQ except there wasn’t one so we went with some people from our group to the restaurant and ate some overpriced spaghetti and bought some Croatian wine from the convenience store on the camp ground, took a shower and all sat around a picnic table, drinking our respective beverages and telling our funniest stories from back home. I began to really feel like I would miss some of the people on this tour even though some of them drove us absolutely crazy.

The next morning we headed to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia’s largest and oldest National Park. It has something crazy like 80 waterfalls and the prettiest water that you have ever seen, which you are tauntingly not permitted to swim in. We walked around with a few girls from our group, enjoying the scenery and being the first ones in the park while it was still peaceful before it became crowded with Japanese tourists, making kissy-faced peace sign photos next to rocks and random trees. We hiked all over the places and I won’t write any more than that so you can just see the 4,000 photos we took of waterfalls and loveliness.

After the park, we continued our drive down to Split, arriving in the late afternoon and checked into the private apartments the tour provided us. We got settled, made a card for Carlos to thank him for being wonderful and then went for a walk around the Riviera waterfront, all made of marble and shining.

We got some really cheap slices of pizza for dinner and some gelato, noting how much Split was inspired by the Venetians with their squares, winding lanes and minor confusion. We went to the Ghetto Bar where we were supposed to meet everyone and were so pleasantly surprised to see the cutest bar ever with fake roses, heart tables, all outside in the middle of ruins underneath someone’s clean laundry hanging from a line.
It has a book store, a salon and apparently hosts art exhibits as well.

We had the best hand-shaken Caprioska of my life and we just hung out with all 26 people from our tour until the wee hours of the morning when we headed back to the apartment, saying good-bye the next morning, packing our things and walking to the sailboat at the harbor, our home for the next week.


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June 2008
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