Sunday, November 15, 2015

What Plitvice Lakes National Park Is Really Like

We needed provisions. Twas going to be a long bus ride to Plitvice Lakes National Park and Lord knows I need snacks on long bus rides.

We also hadn't had breakfast so I was in pursuit of a yogurt to fulfill my daily yogurt regimen that I was employing in attempt to keep my stomach in check. A yogurt I found, but a spoon would be trickier. I asked around whilst KJ paid for her items, and what was produced was the best possible outcome. The tiniest spoon that ever was! How I was supposed to consume my yogurt using this minuscule utensil I did not know, but I also did not care. The novelty of the mini spoon was too good to pass up. I ran back into the minimart to show off my treasure. KJ and the checkout lady's reaction was all I could've hoped for; seeing as they burst out in immediate laughter. It got the check out lady really good and she continued laughing for what seemed like days.

a balanced bus breakfast
We were on a bus. Again. But my excitement about seeing numerous turquoise cascading waterfalls like I'd seen in photograph after photograph in my research and obsession over the National Park made me power through.

We arrived five hours later on the side of a dusty road. Our accommodation was a guesthouse, if we could locate it. We finally did and I grunted in relief; putting my bags down. The place would do for the two nights we had planned to be there. Our plan was to get up early and arrive when the park opened to avoid crowds. We'd hike around the glorious park most of the day. 

In all my waterfall excitement, I forgot to sleep. What resulted the following day was a scene where I mindlessly tried to wear flip flops on the hike and KJ asked what the hell I was doing. (I ended up in sneakers, worry not.)

This is my first hand account of what I learned to be true of Plitvice Lakes National Park...

1. Arrive early. Seriously.
The park opens at 7, and you should be there at 6:59. The day trippers arrive later in the morning and if you want to experience it with the least amount of other people possible, you must. Get. There. Early.

2. There are almost no restaurants. (Or no actual town really)
There is however a market. We walked to the market and purchased meat and bread to make a lovely sandwich dinner, and lunch for the hike the next day.

3. The "train" to the upper lakes is actually a bus type thingy.
No big deal but it's definitely not a train. Just sayin.

4. The Big Slap means Big waterfall.
This made me laugh.

5. The upper lakes were beautiful.
Waterfalls spilled from multiple tufts as we meandered the boardwalks. It was still early, and once the original group of people who got off the first "train" of the day spread out, it was more enjoyable walking through the upper lakes.

6. The boardwalks are tricky.
The words uneven, slippery, and crowded come to mind. Though they look stupidly awesome, they are a tad dangerous if you're not careful! You'll want to take in the scenery around you but watch your footing or you'll end up in a lake. Which is prohibited, by the way.

7. The route didn't take as long as predicted.
We were pretty surprised that after only 2 and a half hours we'd finished the upper and lower lakes. We were all like, "Wait, is this it? Is this the end?" We were under the impression it would take all day.

8. There's a lot of rules.
As well there should be with this big of an attraction. The sign was entertaining to try to figure out what each prohibited action was though...

Can we take a moment to appreciate the most bottom right one? My best guess was "Absolutely NO Jenga playing."

9. The natural version of Croatian DisneyWorld.
If it hasn't reached that status yet, it will soon. By the time we reached the lower lakes, shit was PACKED. The boardwalks were jammed with people and any hope of taking any photos without other people being in it was shattered. Mass tours with people using those flag on a stick things were led on the walkways. People had strollers. Enough said.

This doesn't even begin to exhibit the mass of people we ran into.

10. It's not really a hike.
I probably could've done it in the flip flops. It was more of a leisurely nature walk. I thought I'd experience more of a "one with nature" feeling. I'd discover things. Have time to snap a photograph if I wanted to linger, and set it up the way I wanted. Not have to wait in line to get on a boat with 50 other people to cross a lake to the lower lakes. Things like that.

It should also be noted that I almost fell in exactly 3 times.

First instance: my own klutziness.

Second instance: a couple of kids ran by me, almost knocking me in.

Third instance: (and most frightening) I was standing on a bench near the edge of a particularly high vantage point to get a photo of the Big Slap, when an older man with no semblance of personal space came way to close to me without my knowledge. Luckily KJ alerted me just as he almost knocked into me, which would've resulted in me plummeting down, far down into the Big Slap. Phew. 

The BIG SLAP (a BIT underwhelming)
So was it worth the hype?
The short answer is yes, I wanted to see it for myself. The long answer is...I don't know. I hated how touristy it was; but it was touristy for a reason, no? For me, the crowds, and the "turning it into an attraction" was all too much; making it feel unnatural. I half expected people to be walking around wearing Big Slap t-shirts, or foam hats in the shape of waterfalls. We did however enjoy some epic people watching. We kept tally of all the people we saw wearing denim shorts. There were no less than 15 denim shorts wearers, 1 pair of jeggings, and 1 denim skirt. It was VERY hot. Denim wouldn't be my first choice to nature walk in!

I was a tad disappointed. After all the talk of "The Big Slap" we were so far away from it! I wanted to see it up close and personal. I had stalked pictures of Plitvice for months before on Instagram and had built it up in my head. Don't get me wrong, it's gorgeous, and I took so many pictures trying to frame people out of them or waiting my turn because it is SO beautiful. But, BUT too much of a theme-park-esque feel.

these ducks were pretty cool. a blue "highlight" feather, if you will.
Pretty waterfalls? Yes. Satisfying? Not so much. For me, it left something to be desired.

I did get one of my all time favorite jumping pics here though...So, there's that.

1 comment:

  1. Um I beg to disagree... the all time favorite jumping pic is still yet to come! ... Ninja jumps in Japan!