Croatia I – Plitviče and Ugljan

It only occurred to me after arriving in Croatia, where I was traveling with Tanya and with my Mum, that this might be an opportunity to go and visit a spomenik — one of the many incredible World War II memorials built within the former Yugoslavia. Sure enough there is one just to north of Zagreb, so we jumped in our hire car and drove to the spomenik at Podgarić. And there it was, entirely unsignposted, sad and huge above a field.

The Spomenik at Podgarić.

Our trip into the countryside also took us into little towns that we wouldn’t otherwise have gone through. It was pretty country, and we stopped for a lunch of cevapi – fried meatballs served with raw onion and bread. We had spent the morning in Zagreb, exploring the markets and keeping out of the heat of the sun, and our destination for the night was Plitviče, to the south.

We stayed that night just outside the Plitviče Lakes National Park, at a little guesthouse with a friendly host who ran a large outdoor fireplace to cook each night. The next day we spent the whole day in the park and walked the lakes from south to north. They were just spectacular — Plitviče is a series of aquablue lakes of astonishing luminosity, with waterfalls between. Each lake is a natural infinity pool, so from above you can’t see the waterfalls on the edge, and from below water appears from everywhere, through trees and grasses and rocks.

Water everywhere.

Although you can’t see it in the photos, the walk through the lakes is essentially on one path shared with thousands of other visitors. They control the numbers quite well but there are inevitable traffic jams near the best waterfalls. We queued for a boat across one lake to the start of the next path.

Plitviče Lakes.
Happy fish (I guess, I didn’t ask them) at Plitviče Lakes.
The colour of the water!

Walking the direction we did, we ended the day at the tallest, but not the most spectacular, waterfall. From there it was a short uphill walk back to the park entrance. We ate dinner that night at a restaurant — the only one for miles — next to a flattish ski field abandoned for the summer. And the next day we drove further south.

On the drive to the coast we passed through fields and fields of wildflowers bursting by the side of the road. There were stalls selling cheese, honey, and mushrooms every so often. The mushroom sellers seemed to have only a few actual mushrooms for sale, but they were big and frightening ones (we didn’t stop). Nearer to the coast was a range of hills that was forested on one side; we went under them by tunnel to absolute aridity on the coastal side, and wound our way down through the rocks to the sea at Zadar.

So many flowers!
Arid coastal country.
Zadar, Croatia.

Zadar is an interesting walled city with stone-paved streets that are so worn as to be slippery to walk on. It also has a fascinating sea organ that plays music by use of the waves and tide; water moving under the concrete steps at the foreshore pushes air through tubes that make different pitches. Its music is ephemeral and beautiful and never the same again.

Red boat on Ugljan.
The tiny island off Preko that holds a monastery.

We took a boat (last minute, we essentially ran onto it) to the island of Ugljan, which was peaceful and warm in the sun. There were only a few people around, and we swam in the sea and looked at the little island off the main town of Preko, and missed our planned boat back in favour of getting dinner on the island. Good times in Croatia!

An interesting wall in Preko.
Looking back to Zadar.
Otok Ošljak.
August 24, 2019

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