I’ve celebrated many birthdays, enough that they’ve lost their appeal. I no longer lose sleep dreaming of that bike I hope to get as a gift, or that driver’s license, or turning 21 and going out to the bars (which is way overrated, kids). But today, Elizabeth found that gem of a park that was an awesome gift to explore and spend a day with the family. The park is Plitvice (PLEET-veet-seh) located a couple of hours south of Zagreb in Croatia. This area challenged everything I know about the characteristics of water, earth, and gravity. I thought that water ran from high to low elevation, following the path of least resistance, cutting rills, brooks, streams, rivers, and canyons. At Plitvice, water just runs in sheets all over the place, occasionally leading to falls and being contained in 16 lakes of different elevations.
Something about the calcium carbonate in the area allows for the water to build up dams and create this unique ecosystem which is heavily forested with crystal clear blue water.
Another UNESCO site, the park has the most wonderful boardwalk which bridges these pools allowing us to get up close and personal with the site. And unlike our national parks, there were no safety precautions like handrails stopping us from tumbling into the water.
Everywhere we turned we were treated to new sights, ranging from the calm of a mountain lake to the roar of a 50 meter fall. At the lowest part of the park, the largest falls provided some of the most spectacular views.
In order to get to the park, we experienced another bus ride. We looked up the bus schedules last night so we knew exactly how they worked. Unfortunately, we didn’t look up the address of the bus station, assuming it was at the train station. We confidently strode into the train station with plenty of time to spare, only to find that we needed to walk another 3/4 mile to get to the correct locale. So another fast-paced walk, a helpful Croatian, a conveniently placed ATM (they didn’t accept credit cards), and we were on a bus. The ride south served as a reminder of the war with the Serbs back in the 1990s, with some bullet-ridden houses. It also led into the town of Slunj which was build upon similar ground as pictured above. Imagine stepping out your front door into those sights. It was beautiful as well.
Of course, Elizabeth was able to put together a cake from scratch to end the night with a traditional birthday feel. Thanks to her and the kids, another perfect birthday for me.