On my way to Zagreb, I decided to make a side trip to Plitvice to see the famous lakes of the Croatian National Park.
I quit the highway to Ljubljana a little before Trieste to follow the E61 to Rijeka, then the E65 and finaly, the 42 to Grabovac where I stayed (I choose a camping site that is offering rooms in a cottage that give the impression of being in a winter sports resort).
The weather was humid, misty. It has rained a lot during the week, filling all the lakes with fresh waters. I found the area even more peaceful. As it was not the touristic season and moreover a week day, I ended up to be alone in the camp, for diner, for breakfast and all day long.
Around Plitvice, you will not find any cities, just hamlets with small groceries and local restaurants. All this adds to the charm of crossing a rural country.
The next morning, I wake up early and drove to the entrance of the park. Not even a single bus. No tourist. Empty parking lots. All shops closed. I parked the car, walked down the alley and after the gate where I paid the entrance fees, I jumped into a little boat to cross the Kozjak lake (took two minutes). I shared it with a Japanese tourist girl I never crossed again.
Then, the magic started. As I was walking on a wooden trail, I could smell the freshness of the rainforest, all the humus and lichen that covered the ground and the trees exploded with fragrance. And all around, the sound of the waterfalls like an endless crystal spill.
A water so still, so clear that you fancy dive and swim in it. Ponds of clear waters, like sanctuary for dead trees and roots, totally lifeless. Wherever you walk, you see water streaming out of green and spongy mosses, as if the ground was waterlogged.
The morning mist quickly faded away to my regret. It was really magical with it. I imagine that during winter, with a mix of snow and ice, the area must even be more splendid.
I spent two hours just wandering along the paths, contemplating the scenery, only disturbing some birds and blessed enough not to endure the countless tourists that normally invade the area during the peak summer season.
No selfies, no waiting, no rush, just the silence of the running water.
I started at the second entry and finished with the first one. You park again your car at the gate and go down a walk from where you will get a spectacular view of the famous 100 meter waterfall (the Potok river joins the Korana one). The area is really humid and misty and at spring, the water is so strong that you cannot take pictures without endangering your camera. But that is even greater.
Nevertheless, I left the park for Zagreb after 5 hours of foot ride (you can eat at Bistro Plum which is quite good). I still got tremendous memories, like a plunge in an outer world, a communion with nature and the waterfalls.