A Journey in Motion – Zagreb/Plitvice Lakes
We arrived in Zagreb very late in the evening, so it was a case of just finding our Airbnb for our time here and getting well rested for the next day.
We were greeted by our host’s friend who let us in to the building, and immediately, we were left stunned at our new home.
It was the comfiest looking place I’d ever seen, chocolates and wine were left out for us on the table, the kitchen had its own proper coffee machine (not that I drink that stuff but I was still impressed), it was all just lovely.
It was the perfect hide away, just minutes away from the city centre, to prepare us for our day in the capital.
Day 1 – we hadn’t actually planned much for the day, the only real reason we’d come to Zagreb was for us to go to the Plitvice Lakes tomorrow.
We had a long walk round, looking for all the impressive looking buildings on the map, before stumbling on the busy market corner.
It became apparent that there wasn’t too much for a tourist to do here, so we headed out higher up in the hope of finding some cool vantage points to look upon the city.
As we climbed, everything became a bit quieter, and the streets more pretty.
You see down in the main centre of Zagreb, everything is quite modernised. It’s your typical town centre.
However up here, is where it’s hidden charm lies.
Maybe it was the lack of people walking around that made it more appealing, it was nice to be in the calm.
As the day started entering the evening, and we’d pretty much seen everything we’d wanted to see, we went back to our accommodation, relaxed for a few hours, before taking advantage of the use of the two bikes left for us by our host.
I’d noticed in Europe there tends to be a lot of cycling paths, in fact they’re everywhere, and you can see why when you don’t go five seconds without seeing someone fly past you.
The sun set, and we found a pizza restaurant that let us take out our food.
We headed to the park around the corner, where there were stalls and music still out, as Zagrebs night life began to kick in.
That for me will be my lasting memory of the city. A busy area, yet somewhere you can still feel at peace, whilst eating your fat 12' pizza. Bliss.
Day 2 – at around 8:40am, we were on the coach, and on our way to the Plitvice lakes.
If this was to be anything like Lake Bled, in my eyes we were in for a treat.
And the views did not disappoint.
The second you enter this national park, you are greeted by the sight of a large waterfall, cracking through the rocks.
In front, the rivers and small lakes that lead to the foot of the fall, with man made wooden paths taking you on a six hour hike.
These paths, are part of its downfall though, as they in my opinion are not big enough for the vast number of tourists that come, especially at this peak time of year.
People don’t seem to care that as they barge past, they are at risk of sending you for a bath in a rocky pool.
If you are to go, I’d recommend getting there the minute it opens for the day, or be one of the last, just so you can appreciate its beauty, without being cautious of a near death experience!
Alas, my day wasn’t ruined, because it’s simply too difficult to be moody or angry in a place so wonderful. The scenery will stay with me forever.
Just as we reached the top, we heard the dreaded sound of thunder (again), and as expected, the downpour came as we were waiting for the bus to take us back to the beginning of the track. I could have jumped into the waterfall and come out dryer.
And predictably, as we were on the bus, half way down, the rain stopped. Class.
We waited for our pick up to take us to our hostel (*shudders*), in the mindset that “it’s only one night”, “it can’t be any worse than before.”
Boy were we wrong!
We drove through lovely landscapes, high in the mountains and along deserted land that only had the road for company.
When all of a sudden, the car pulled up outside this lone house, near enough in the middle of nowhere.
We were quickly told this is where we’d be spending our evening, and led upstairs to be greeted by three people who were supposed to check us in. Instead they chatted to us whilst on their laptops, not allowing us to go hide in our room.
This ‘hostel’ was straight out of a horror movie.
Our beds were up in the attic, along with 24 other beds, most of which were empty (no surprise). There were no lights, everything was wooden and creaked when you breathed near it. None of the beds even matched, it was like they’d gone to IKEA and picked a load of random furniture from the waste bins around the back.
In my life, I’ve visited tourist sights like old prisons, torture houses etc. This is the God honest truth, those places were cleaner and more hospitable than here.
The bathroom didn’t have a light, nor a proper lock. The kitchen, which I only got a glance of, had mould everywhere.
We were supposed to be staying here and getting a train around 10 or 11 in the morning. However when we learned they’d be one at 2am, just seven hours away, we decided it’d be best to catch that instead.
We left the house of horror at half one (please bare in mind that another thunder storm had been, and another on the way), and started the short walk to the station.
One house we past, typically had a guard dog, which we did not expect (because what the hell do you need a guard dog for around here?!), and it charged at us before reaching the gate, but because of the vicious way it jumped towards our direction (did I mention that there was a thunderstorm? Yeah that helped calm the situation…), I believed for a second that this was it. Goodbye world, we’re going to be eaten by a bloody werewolf in the middle of god knows where.
However, we did survive, and reached the train station. The station that seemed completely abandoned, didn’t have an actual path to it, and again, was in the middle of nowhere.
The rain was relentless, the train was late, and I was left asking Jen; “is there anyone you know, who would somehow find themselves in this ridiculous situation? Why us?”
Fair to say, we were writing the last few hours off as a pure disaster. Get us to Split. Now.