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Plitvice National Park Tuesday 31st May

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Well, there is only so much I can tell you about lakes and waterfalls.

We tackled the other arm of the park today, and hiked up and around the longer, higher arm. Started at 8.00 or so, finished around 2.00ish, so it was a lot of walking. Spectacular, beautiful. It was starting to get very crowded, with people everywhere on the narrow walkways. There are so many large groups that visit this park. You just get clear of 50 Japanese pensioners and run into two different groups of schoolkids. Or just groups of tourist tossers, the sort who pose endlessly for photos. Here’s me pretending to clean the boat with a scrubbing brush, and here I am coquettishly looking over my shoulder with the waterfall in the background, here I am draped over a rock with my hand spread just so…and so on.

Coming back from the walk it clouded over, and repeated thunder indicated trouble ahead. We picked up the pace and belted back, overtaking the lame, the dog-walkers, the old, the self-appointed photogenic, and the indecisive, pushed our way onto the return ferry, and took up a seat on the terraced café.

It was good to get back. The idea of a scale, or signage indicating distances or travel time, has obviously not occurred to the park administrators, but I think we probably walked 12-13 km today. An hour later it bucketed down for a few minutes, and after that the walkers who had been caught out trudged past dripping.

Points of interest today were of course the waterfalls and blue lakes. But you’d be expecting that. Unexpected was a gurgling hole in the ground like a plughole that a rivulet swirled into, then re-appeared spouting as a waterfall somewhere else. The chemical process underlying all this is to dissolve the limestone, create a soluble deposit that accumulates somewhere else. Something like a cross between coral and stalactites occurs, building the dam walls and creating endless flows of cascades of water. The deposits happen on anything not moving, so a dead tree in the water becomes encrusted.

Which also explains why you are not allowed to swim in the enticing water. Organic pollution breaks the carbonation cycle, and would kill off the lakes.

In theory the park hosts some large animals, including bear and boar, wolf, lynx etc. Maybe it does, but they keep away from the tourist trails. Although something, or someone, pulled a concreted-bin out of the ground and ripped it apart, and went through the contents. We did see a mole. But it was dead, stretched out on the path. Lots of fish, but only one species.

We finally started to notice, looking away from the lakes, the clusters of wild-flowers. It is Spring, after all. We spent quite a bit of the walk taking photos of them. Which led to the other highlight for the day:  a spider that had evolved to look like the petals of a buttercup-yellow wildflower. When threatened the arms went out and the shape it held it looked just like the flower. I haven’t seen a bright yellow spider before. Very handsome.

We had very dull rolls and horrid coffee served by a muttering, surly dick at a café set up at the far end of the park. We had tried to see if we could buy food before the hike, but the shop staff preferred to sit inside and smoke rather than adhere to the opening hours. Later in the day we saw some food stalls, but they had been empty at 8.00am when we had walked past. We were still hungry after the lame lunch, so bought a tasty onion and cheese burek and a plastic cup of alpine strawberries. Much nicer.

The penny dropped about the coffee. I should be drinking the same coffee the locals drink, so I think I’ll be moving on to short blacks after today. I think part of the surliness we are receiving relates to the language. Most serving staff understand English, but don’t necessarily like it. A local “hello” or “thankyou” seems to make the difference between an unpleasant retail experience and a pleasant one.

After dinner – some meaty potato soup and plain salad – we lashed ourselves off again and tackled the last bit of the park we hadn’t seen….a very big waterfall at the bottom of the chain of lakes. We left at 6.30, too late for the last downriver boat, but now the park was empty, and we hiked along the narrow path 20 cm above lake level in silence. With the sun low the lakes became even bluer.

With all the people gone and dusk approaching we saw more birds. The frogs we had heard on and off all day were on parade, big mating call competitions on, and then we started seeing them and watched a territorial punchup. Big beetles, a giant slug. Sylvia found a blue dragonfly asleep, and we finally got a clear photo of one. Not with its wings spread though…..I found a tick when we got back, which must have got me when I was near the water focused on the frogs.

The waterfall was nice enough, but to be truthful we had reached saturation point (!) with waterfalls today.  All up I think we clocked up 20 km walking today.

Tomorrow, assuming the bus connection happens, we will hit the coast.

Written by wurstofvienna2011

May 31, 2011 at 7:40 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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