Excerpts from Europe: “The Blue Dragonflies of Krka National Park” in Croatia

After my beautiful, yet rainy, day at Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, I felt like I wanted another day with nature. So I ventured to another National Park, Krka. Whereas in Plitvice, I was serenaded by sounds of frogs, at Krka, I was taken with the brilliance of the blue dragonflies.

Wednesday, June 9, 2004:
Today started out at the Croatian house in Sibenik that I was staying in, where the owner made me breakfast. Coffee and pancakes. I can’t remember the Croatian word for the pancake, but she told me she made them out of water, milk, and the yellow of eggs. Maybe she said flour, too. I put marmalade on them, and enjoyed a nice homemade meal.

Krka National Park

After breakfast, I went to the bus station where I caught a bus to Krka National Park. I first stopped, however, at the Franciscan Church in Sibenik. (Once again, another church, as I like to do a lot during my travels.) No one was inside, so it was peaceful. A good way to start the day. The sun was also out, unlike my rainy day in Plitvice, so even a better start for the day.

I hopped on a bus to Skradin, the town right near Krka. The real entrance to Krka, however, was via a short boat ride from Skradin. My main goal for today was to take a second boat to a Franciscan monastery that dates from 1576, which was located on an island in the middle of a lake in Krka.

When I got to the Krka ticket office, I paid for my way into to the park. I was told, though, that I needed to buy the ticket for the boat to the monastery at a different place, where they would assign an allotted departure time, which turned out to be 2pm.

Krka National Park

I had a several hours to enjoy before the boat to the monastery, so I strolled along the main boardwalk around the waterfalls of Krka. There were fewer paths here than at Plitvice, so I actually had time to walk around them twice, including snack breaks. It was quite scenic, all the water and trees.

At 2pm, I boarded the three-and-a-half hour boat tour, which actually made a couple of stops. The first stop was the monastery on Visovac Island. I believe that they said this island is only 100 by 150 meters (328 by 492 feet). Quite small. There were very colorful flower gardens, and a circle of cypress trees, surrounding the monastery. There was also a church, and a museum which contained interesting displays of both religious art and African art.

Krka National Park

The second stop on the boat tour was to a waterfall. The lakes between the waterfalls at Krka were much larger than the lakes at Plitvice. (More comparisons later.) We got an hour at this stop (we had a half hour at the monastery), where I just took off and went for a walk by myself. I found a road following some streams and meandered for a while.

It was here that I saw the blue dragonflies. Intriguing iridescent blue dragonflies. They were very pretty to watch as they fluttered around, and I spent some time just looking at them.

I continued walking up and down the road, enjoying the waterfalls and the streams, and then made my way back to the boat. After the tour, I took the boat from the entrance of Krka to Skradin, and made my way back to Sibenik.

Krka National Park

Between Plitvice and Krka, I would say that Plitvice, even in the rain, was more impressive in some ways, but Krka was more impressive in other ways. Plitvice had a lot more waterfalls with smaller lakes, whereas there were fewer waterfalls in Krka, but the lakes were larger. There were definitely more trails and paths in Plitvice, as I explored there for hours on end. But Krka had the quaint and peaceful monastery on an island.

Between the two national parks, I felt like I really got some good outdoor and nature experiences, and a sense of the beauty of Croatia.

Sweet Travels!

Excerpts from Europe: “Plitvice Lakes” in Croatia

Countless waterfalls that inter-connect 16 colorful lakes, all surrounded by lush forest, and unique flora and fauna. A place like no other on this planet. This is Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. Five miles of trails and wooden paths took me and my friend Susan on a day-long journey with nature.

Plitvce Waterfalls

Saturday, June 5, 2004:
We awoke this morning about 8:30, after a good night’s sleep in the zimmer, a private room in someone’s home, in Grabovac, Croatia, a town just outside of Plitvice Lakes National Park. The zimmer was right across the street from where the bus dropped us off last night. We didn’t even have a reservation here, but we got this great room, with a shower down the hall, all for the price of a bed in a hostel. Actually, we got pretty lucky in getting this room at all because all the hotels in the town were already full for this weekend, due to a marathon, of all things. And there are no hostels in this town, my usual night’s place to rest.

Plitvice Waterfalls

We had just enough time to get ready for our 9:00 breakfast, included in the price of our room. Hard boiled eggs, bread, cheese, salami, yogurt. A traditional Croatian, even European meal. What was even better, also included in our price, is that the daughter of the owner of the zimmer would drive us to the entrance of Plitvice Park.

As we were driving, however, we got stopped by “traffic.” This turned out to be the Plitvice Marathon. The one that all the hotels were booked up for. 49 kilometers, 26 miles, through this area. What a beautiful area to run in, with lots of trees surrounding. We had to wait for about 500 runners to go on the main road that we were on and turn up hill to a smaller road. A half an hour probably passed, but that was just fine. I mean, how many times in one’s life, would one witness a Croatian marathon?

Plitvice Waterfalls

We arrived at the entrance to the park, bought our tickets, and got maps of the area in the souvenir shop.

It was raining today. At first, I was a bit disappointed, but as it turned out, it didn’t matter at all. In the Croatian rain, and fog, Susan and I walked around Plitvice for seven hours. It was extremely beautiful. Lakes and waterfalls and more lakes and more waterfalls. Countless waterfalls. Blues, greens, azures, turquoises. Plants and trees and more plants and trees. And some wildflowers. It was great to get back in touch with nature.

The sound of Croatian frogs accompanied us during our day. We saw a few of them, but mostly heard them. This was very cool to listen to as we walked around.

Plitvice Waterfalls

We explored just about every path and wooden walkway that we could, except for one long one around the furthest lake. There were two sets of lakes, the Upper, and the Lower. To get from the Lower Lakes to the Upper Lakes, we took a little boat ride across one of the lakes.

I found out that “slap” is the Croatian word for waterfall, and “jezera” is the Croatian word for lake.

Plitvice Waterfalls

After our walk, we went to the main town of Plitvice, just to say we’ve been there. I bought some postcards in one of the hotels. We then went to a restaurant for dinner by the entrance of the park. But not before I crossed the finish line of the marathon. Yeah, me! (Ya, right…) Actually we just happened to walk by it, so there is a photo of me “crossing” the finish line.

Plitvice Marathon

For dinner I had a salad and potatoes “baked on a bell.” Not sure what that was exactly, but they were good potatoes. As we were eating, festivities occurred. First we were “serenaded” by a group of people singing Croatian songs. My guess is they were joyous marathon runners. Next a band came over to play – an accordion, a cello, a guitar, and a ukulele. Croatian music, with a bit of “Oh Susanna” mixed in.

Croatian Band

Then the group singing joined in with the band, and they all started singing together. A waltz was played, and people danced.

After dinner, Susan and I were picked up by the owner of the zimmer. I took a nice warm shower, and now I am writing a bit in my journal. I think I will try to figure out where to travel to next in Croatia. But really, I might just be too tired to decide tonight.

Sweet Travels!

Harry Potter in Europe: It Isn’t Just for Kids

It’s not. It’s not. It’s not.

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Kids aren’t the only Harry Potter fans around. Some of us adults are fans, too.

Nearly five years ago, when I was on my five-month solo European journey, I experienced the same construction work going on at the railway station. I was also redirected to not the logical place that Platform 9¾ should have been located. But it didn’t matter where it was, really.

The point was that I, an adult Harry Potter fan, went to the place where the children of the wizardry world, especially Harry himself, and his friends Hermione and Ron, disappear from the Muggle world, through a brick wall, in order to catch the Hogwarts Express that takes them to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. How thrilling!

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(I have always wondered if the woman in the photo with me, who had been standing there for quite some time, was waiting for the opportune moment to disappear through the brick wall herself…)

As I was traveling around Europe, which was around the time that the “Prisoner of Azkaban” movie was being released, this Harry Potter fan took several pictures of the movie poster from various countries, including Croatia, Italy and France.

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Croatia

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Italy

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France

And, on July 19, 2004, I even went to a movie theater in London to see the movie!! Now is that a Harry Potter fan, or what!

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“Why does it have to be follow the spiders! Why can’t it be follow the butterflies!” Ron Weasley

Sweet Travels!

All photos by Debby