We are up bright and early at 5:30a (11p back home) for breakfast in our hotel lobby. It was a fabulous continental breakfast and we pack up the bus for our 2-hour bus ride south to the city of Split. Today, it is rainy and 46 degrees as we cruise along the Croatia country side. We pass small houses along the way, with the red roofs and farm animals grazing up on a hill. The road is scenic but we eventually ended up at Plitvice Lakes National Park.
This park is the oldest and largest national park in the Republic of Croatia, famous for its numerous turquoise-colored lakes separated by by tufa, or travertine, barriers.
The specific hydrogeological properties of the park’s rocks have enabled the retention of water on the dolomite rocks and resulted in the water cutting through the canyons in the limestone deposits.
This was beautiful, as we walked down the wooden footpaths right overtop the rushing water. We first visit the Big Waterfall which is 75 m tall (the tallest in Croatia) and an absolute joy to look up at. The water is crystal clear but also is this piercing blue as well. Small fish hover lazily near the surface. It’s striking how well you can see all the way to the bottom of the lake. We walk to the second set of falls and we are able to walk right alongside the small wall of falls.
The place is crowded with tours but after two more sets of falls, we make our way back to the visitors center. For lunch, we are provided a bagged lunch of fruit, ham sandwich or ham and cheese roll up and water. We then pack up the group back onto the bus and drive three hours to the city of Split.
Once we arrive, we check into the Art Hotel where we are pleasantly surprised by our darling white marble room! We leave our bags in the room and have an hour and a half to explore before dinner.
Rachel and I make our way to the old town of Split where we get a small glimpse of the shops closing down and the night life beginning. Little alleyways are worn stone under your feet with souvenir shops and little restaurants tucked away in between.
We get a photo of the Statue of Grgur Ninski outside the city. Both the subject and creator of this hefty statue outside the Golden Gate are a big deal. Ivan Meštrović, the sculptor, was a master of his craft and after communism arrived he continued his career in America where his public works there are as cherished as ever. Grgur Ninski is a 10th-century bishop a Croatian icon, who by conducting religious services in the Croatian language defied the pope, helped spread Christianity in the region and establish Croatian national identity. People rub Ninski’s big toe for good luck, and years of contact have made this little nub of bronze gleam.
We walk back to the hotel where we meet the rest of the group and load up the bus for dinner at Konoba Varos. Appetizers included a noodle soup, salad, followed by roast and potatoes. Dessert was a delicious lime sorbet and chocolate ice cream.
After dinner we took the bus back to the hotel for bed. Tomorrow we are up early for our official city tour of Split.