Plitvice Lakes National Park

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Often I turn to my endless supply of forwarded on emails from friends as a means of escape and then flick on the ones I like to the next list of people to enjoy. I generally like the emails that are simply dedicated to scene after scene of jaw dropping vistas from around the world. Nothing like a little bit of escapism as you sit daydreaming of something other than what you are at that time trying to avoid! There’s always a compilation or two of those doing the rounds of the world wide web. I forwarded on one such compilation that my mate Famey had sent to me to my usual email contacts who enjoy a little bit of Kristen spam in their inbox.

It wasn’t until I reached Croatia to meet up with my cousin Andrew that I realised the impact that little click of my mouse had had.

Damien and I had always intended on including Croatia in our European leg of 2012. We had eagerly included the famed coast of Croatia as a must do. Sadly, however, it became apparent overtime that the weeks it would take to reach that far would make it near impossible to reach Italy and drive back to Germany in time to fly onwards to our next continent. We simply had to accept that you can’t do everything. So, Croatia was deleted.

But by a stroke of luck Andrew was coming to Europe with his girlfriend Kara and her parents, Diane and Robert. I asked Andrew to send me his itinerary so we could see if it would be possible for us to catch up at some point. Andrew and I have grown much closer in our adult lives and have enjoyed a couple of stellar trips to Japan together, the best one being when Andrew and I went with Damien and my brother Mat in 2011. I have missed my cousin and our catch ups for coffee on weekends in Cronulla when we were still living back in Australia. If Damien and I could wing it we would make every effort to find a way of getting to a country where he was!

After careful consideration we decided that the only place possible would be Croatia. It would be a mission to get there but we figured it was our best chance. Plus, when we noticed WHERE in Croatia he would be we were pretty much sold on the idea.

We looked at the name Plitvice and then both tweaked…isn’t that the place in that email from Famey??? We both remembered the vision of Plitvice both in winter and summer. When I saw those photos of Plitvice I could not believe how amazing it looked. It truly was a standout amongst a magnificent line up of other stunning pictures from around the globe. Yes! Let’s definitely meet my cuz there! So, it was recollections of that email that sealed the deal on us choosing to go to visit Andrew in Croatia.

What is even more amazing is that Andrew later relayed (without me even mentioning our recollection of the email) that the reason they all came to Plitvice was because of the email as well! Apparently Andrew had seen that Kara and her parents were planning on going down to the coast of Croatia. He suggested that they also make a stop over in Plitvice as he had also remembered the stunning photos from that email and knew that it was not a place to be passed up. Thanks be to Famey from both of us I think!

So the epic journey to make it to see Andrew and co down in Croatia has already been documented so I will skip straight to saying that Plitvice Lakes was by far the most beautiful National Park I have ever had the privilege to lay my eyes or feet upon!

We nearly didn’t get the pleasure of walking through the Park with Andrew and co due to our arrival time. But, thankfully, Hermes was on our side and I caught my cuz in time and Kara and Andrew waited for us to start the walk together.

We were a little under the pump to get to their hotel in time and I like to blame my elevated heart rate from the rapid walk (ahem) for my sudden emotional outburst at seeing my cousin. Let’s just say that I was a tad embarrassed on reflection that Kara had to witness my blubbering mess! It’s an understatement to say that I was happy to see Andrew!

Andrew, Kara, Diane and Robert had walked around part of the Lakes the day before and so this being their second day they were somewhat less “wowed” than we were (at least at the start). As Andrew and Kara kept a steady pace along the start of our walk I was wanting to stop every five meters unable to contain my amazement at the sight I was beholding! Crystal clear azure waters with fish lingering at the lakes edge was immediately impressive. Long story short is that I was so blown away by the sheer magnificence and natural perfection of this place that I was freely throwing around that this place could possibly be the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I still stand by my initial reaction and am adamant when I say that it is the most beautiful National Pak I have ever seen and unequivocally one of the most spectacular places I have ever been to…or will ever be to, I am sure!

But how happy was I that our epic journey to see my cousin should be in such a wondrous place of beauty! It was just a joy to spend the day with Andrew, Kara, Robert and Diane. We had a fantastic meal to top off the occasion at their hotel and it was all over too soon. But, nonetheless, I was infinitely pleased to have had the time with Andrew San!

Damo and I were happy to reward ourselves for our endurance driving session with another couple of days at Plitvice. As the gods would have it, the next day a thunder storm was a brewing and as we arrived in the early arvo it seemed it would rain down on Plitvice at any moment. Bonus. Everyone else seemed to exit stage left and we were able to enjoy another walk through this wonderland pretty much sans crowds.

Day three saw us walk to the crest of the hills surrounding the Lakes to take in the magnificent vistas it provided. This was Damien’s favourite walk. It was not the up close and personal look of magical waterfalls, crystal clear waters and endlessly gorgeous wonders that the Lake side strolls provided, but it is so worth the effort! There is pretty much not another soul to speak of on the tracks and the walks through the forest are lovely in their own right. Damien particularly enjoyed the openness of the forest. I loved the ever changing vegetation it provided. It made me appreciate the wonder and fragility of nature in that in only short periods of time the plants that were present in our area were absent in another. If you care to take a closer look, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the delicate balance within which nature exits. This place was a tonic for my soul as it was a perfect example of nature in its highest form and why we must preserve it.

If you see one National Park in your life, make it Plitvice.

P.S. I will upload the photos from our day three walk in the next week or so to my Photo Gallery. They are well worth a look. I don’t think they do it justice like seeing it in person but they are still a part of the story!

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