Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Entering Croatia and Plitvicka Lakes National Park

A neat house on a river in Slovenia.

My last day of riding in Slovenia was not as excited as I had hoped. On the way, I was supposed to be going through some of their great wilderness, but it did not seem that different. Maybe I needed to camp and be lazy about hiding my food from the bears. The area did reinforce two predominant themes from Slovenia though, the place has trees, lots of them. It is 80% forested. Also, they love german shepherds. I saw more of them than any other dog. It was ridiculous. Other than that, the ride went fairly quickly and before I knew it, I was approaching the border.

Welcome to Croatia!

When I got near the border to Croatia, I started to get excited. It was going to be my first non-EU border crossing. Land border crossings gone challenging are some of the most common stories brought back from travelers. One guy I met had spent a night in jail because his passport stamps confused the guards. I scooted into line behind the cars, waited my turn, and then pulled out my blue US passport. As soon as the guard saw that, he did not touch it or even have me open it to show my picture. He grunted and waved a little. I thought I might need to go somewhere else to fill out a visa form. I gave him a confused look and he gave me angry look and waved me on again, but this time making it clear I was clear to enter Croatia. No stamp needed. Apparently, no ID check needed either. I did not realize that a US passport meant VIP access. I happily continued on my way, but was worried if another country would expect to see a stamp when I tried to leave.

A museum to be of military hardware from their most recent war.

It seems a little weird to have destroyed houses besides the museum.

After a couple hours riding, it was getting dark. For the first time, I tried sleeping out instead of setting up my tent. I was tired and it would save time. It was a great idea. I woke up after a single sleep cycle and started to get ready because it was getting light out. I figured I was just up a little before sunrise, like always. Bzzzz, it was the middle of the night and the full moon was rising. I did not get good sleep. I also think that might have reset my circadian rhythm because it was the first of many bad nights of sleep.

Morning pig roast.

The next day, it was time to explore Croatia. The first thing that I needed was a proper map. The first hotel would show me one, but would not let me take it since I did not stay there. The second hotel in Karlovac went over the top and found three different ones to give me coverage of over half the country. The first hotel did introduce me to something that is apparently a Croatian standard, they roast a pig in view of the road in the morning to bring in customers.

Rakovica, Croatia

Rakovica, Croatia reminds me of the river going through Camden, ME.

I don't remember too much from the rest of the trip. I had a great spinach mushroom pancake. I was excited because I was covering more ground that I thought I would. I was amazed at how empty the mountains of Croatia seemed. Cars were honking their horns for the first time. I was not a fan. However, I think I've decided that they were actually trying to cheer me on. There were absolutely no other bikers on the road. However, that might have had to do with the rain.

A waterfall at Plitvice lakes.

The big waterfall at Plitvice Lakes.

As I approached Plitvice Lakes National Park, the number of rooms in private houses skyrocketed. There were barely any hotels and I'm not surprised. They probably can't compete with the number of private rooms. Seriously, there were hundreds. With so many places to stop, a huge hill, cooling weather, and more rain, I was tempted to pull in for the night. However, I resolved to push on so that I could at least wake up at the park and visit right away in the morning. When I got there and asked about the weather, I was told it would be the same. Figuring I had a schedule to keep, I decided to go see the lakes in the rain instead of hoping for better weather the next day.

One of the cascading lakes at Plitvice.

The lakes are amazing. Even in the rain, they had a great turquoise color. The tour through the park has four different versions. Some require a boat across one of the lakes. The longest two have you walking all the way back to the sixteenth lake and then taking a shuttle back. That was super nice to be lazy. Unfortunately, by the time I was wrapping up, it was getting dark. The rain was coming down harder. The closest guest house cost way too much so I decided to just tough it out and camp. I pulled off the road into the first clearing I saw. It turned out to be the national park where you are not allowed to camp, but I just banked on them not checking because I was cold and needed to get warm quickly. Not a great night's sleep, but oh well.

A kid checks out the fish in the clear water at Plitvice Lakes.

1 comment:

  1. WOW!!! holy moley! the picture of the cascading lake is amazing!