While in Croatia, I decided to make a stop at Plitvice National Park. It was a nice way to reflect on turning 25, and I know that a lot of you will groan at that, but I’ve been obsessively ambitious from a young age, always wondering what more I can do and experience 🙂
The park is made up of a system of upper and lower lakes. Some are tiny, some are huge. There’s a boat available to ferry you across one of the larger ones.
The beauty there didn’t disappoint. One of my favorite pictures was of this lake, which I’m sure this duck couple was happy to have for itself:
The water was so clear, and the colors – turquoise, sea foam, aquamarine – were so gorgeous. I was amazed that the park manages not to put any trash cans anywhere, but clearly the people who visit are sufficiently awed by the beauty and not in any hurry to mess it up. (I admit I ate a sandwich illegally, but I kept the trash til I left.) Finally – a beautiful, natural space without cigarette butts everywhere or plastic bottles floating around in the water.
This was our reminder, at the entrance, to keep it clean:
“Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and use nothing but time!”
One of the most important attractions is Veliki slap, or the Great Waterfall. First, take a minute to appreciate the onomatopoeia of the word “slap” meaning “waterfall” in Croatian – so perfect. Second, if you’re like me and your mind plays language tricks on you – since the word for big in Czech, velký, is similar – you might awkwardly half-translate it in your mind as “the big slap,” which is just a funny concept.
The park entrance is set up so that you see the Great Waterfall from above/across while you descend towards the lake below (oohing and ahhing all the while). To approach the waterfall, you make your way over a pathway of wooden bridges held just above the lake…
…to stand in an alcove with the cliffs and flowing streams of water surrounding you.
You shouldn’t take any nicer shoes or boots (like I did, since I didn’t originally know I’d be going there :P) because since you’re suspended just above the water, it’s very possible you’ll get wet.
And hold tight to your belongings, because if you drop something, there it goes right through the wooden slats, lost forever and claimed by the serenity of the park.
It’s about 1000x more beautiful in person. (Notice the bridge leading to the waterfall alcove in the background.)
Solitude. I firmly believe in that (admittedly cheesy) phrase, “Happiness is wanting what you already have.” In this sense, I am a very happy person. People wonder how I can travel by myself, but I’m not unhappy when I’m alone. I even increase my happiness by collecting experiences of travel and beauty, whether that’s in a small, traditional town; in the desert; in a metropolis; a city where cobblestone streets and 700-year old bridges meet graffiti and trendy cafés; on a hike to collect mushrooms. And that desire for travel and beauty keeps me ambitious and motivated without taking away from my stored happiness.
Since I grew up near and spent a lot of time in NYC, that’s my prevailing vision of “how life works.” I have to force myself to be a nature person and readjust my ideas about searching out joy and what’s the best (and most peaceful) way to live.
Plitvice is an amazing trip within Croatia because the gushing water, the color, the reeds, the peace all make an impression on you; you are surrounded by so much beauty. You’re walking in the midst of something great: It’s been here before you and it will outlast you. It makes you appreciate the body you’re in and the eyes you have that allow you to see it.
Here’s a further sample of my four hours of exploration:
In response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.
[…] was different for me than most cities. I spent three full days there (and one in Plitvice National Park), and whereas my first impression was that it was very flat and not as attractive outside the […]
[…] Photo Challenge: Solitude – CHLOHEMIAN: Adventures in Bohemia, Moravia, and Other Sites Abroad […]
Oh yes solitude. That’s one thing we in a bustling city cannot afford. Enjoy this opportunity to have solitude where one can be without others and being concious of how others see and feel about us!
It’s true, I am hyper-aware of how people see Americans!
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You see, there is a reason they call it “America the Beautiful”. You have a great country (well someone’s trying to make it great again), so treasure it!