Monday, May 24, 2010

Plitvice and Sibenik


House Tina sits among grassy fields about 8 km. outside of Plitvice. Our hostess/owner serves us the best scrambled eggs I have ever had - fresh eggs, she tells us, from the neighboring farm. of the interesting aspects of B&B's is meeting people from other parts of the world. We have breakfast with a group of Romanian guests and learn that Romania is even more beautiful than Croatia, except that the roads are undeveloped. These visitors drove 15 hours to get to Croatia. I think what has struck me on this trip is how westernized Central Europe has become and how well the Slovenians and Croatians speak English. Their children learn English from grade 3--as a country they believe that it is unrealistic to expect visitors to be able to converse in their native languages, and thus have adopted English as a universal language. The majority of tourists we have encountered have been from Russia and other central and eastern european countries. The pensions have been immaculate, well furnished, with modern appliances and amenities. It has certainly been an eye opening experience for all of us and I would highly recommend this as a destination spot.

Knowing that tour groups descend on the park in the late morning and afternoon, we hit the park early and are one of the first to be on the trails. We continue our walk from yesterday by working our way up to the upper lake and circling around to the middle area between the lakes. By early afternoon, at the boat dock, we are shocked to see hundreds of schoolchildren and hoards of tourists and feel fortunate to have seen most of the park by then. There are so many people walking on the boardwalks, it is like holiday crowds in a shopping mall. There is no way I would have been able to set up a tripod with people shaking the boardwalks and trying to pass by. We walk up to the highest waterfall and at the top have a view of the 2 lakes and the chain of smaller falls below them. Escaping the crowds, we head on down the coast.

We have dinner in Sibenik, a blue collar town, and find a very local eatery with homestyle cooking. I feel a bit like Frankenstein as we get so many looks when we walk in - have they never seen an Asian before? We head toward Split, our only night of spontaneity since I have not reserved any hotel for this evening. What a mistake that was! Trying to find a hotel in the dark at a reasonable price becomes quite a challenge. There are no chains of hotels in this part of Europe, and unlike the US, there are no hotels by the highway. We go in to several, and decide against them because of the price, finally settling on one in the north part of the city, because we are tired of driving around. It reminds me of the only other time we had no reservations, early in our marriage in DC when we drove 30 min outside of the city.

The Hotel As will suffice and it is a lovely room with a huge whirlpool bathtub, not a cheerful b&b but nice just the same.

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