Published: October 31st 2012October 26th 2012
In the Croatian language, slap
means waterfall. The biggest waterfall in Croatia (there are many) is located in Plitvice National Park where I was last week the day before tackling Croatia's highest mountain, Dinara.
$US ≈ 5.8 Croatian kuna (KN)
Plitvice National Park
Croatia's premier park. Even though I had driven there the previous day all the way from Sarajevo (~7 hours with stops) I should have given it a pass because the weather was not at all conducive to view the scenery. I contemplated skipping it even as I was driving to the park entrance because the fog was so thick and the entrance fee is a steep 110KN (park open 7:00 - 19:00) plus 7KN/hour to park. Additionally, it seems by October the amount of water has significantly decreased after the typically dry Balkan summer diminishing the overall effect. Might have been better to go to Knin straight from Sarajevo and done Dinara a day earlier. Then I could have gone to Krka National Park instead of Plitvice. Inland Dalmatia did not suffer from the same foggy weather that I encountered at Plitvice. Krka has similar scenery and was on the route from Knin to
The infrastructure in Plitvice is quite developed. There are 2 bus routes from near entrance 2 each departing half hourly off season: one route heads north to the end of the upper lakes from where it is an easy 1 hour walk downhill to the boat dock; the other route is back from veliki slap
. The route is also possible in reverse. The boat travels between the southern end of the upper lakes and the lower lakes. I took the 8:30 am bus north then caught the boat to veliki slap
a little after 10:00 am and lastly the bus back from the big waterfall at 11:20 am. I'm certain I would have taken much more time if the weather had been nicer. Accommodation and food
Most places were closed for the season so it took me a while to find Bora and Gašpar Anto located at Mukinje 49. They were nice enough to give me a double room for half price (other establishments would not, often the bane of traveling solo) which was 150KN with my own bathroom. WiFi, tea, and slivovice
(powerful plum brandy found all over Eastern Europe) were also included while a
filling breakfast was 45KN extra. The common area had a cranking wood stove but the radiator in my room was kept shut since I was the only guest once again but the three blankets kept me plenty warm. Transport
Regular buses between Zagreb and Zadar pass through the park. I needed about 2:15 to drive my car to Knin.
The last mountain of my Balkan peak bagging extravaganza, also the lowest elevation, but probably the best of the bunch because of the fantastic cottage at Brežovač where I was able to stay the night before summiting. The cottage is managed by a local hiking club and staying there was free. Cha-ching! Brežovač is a 1½ hour hike from the parking area at Markov Grob which is reached after a ~45 minute drive from Knin on a horrendous road that nearly destroyed my diminutive Peugeot 107 rental. The cottage has running water, a toilet, comfortable beds, a gas stove, utensils – it's awesome.
I had to pick up the keys to the cottage in Knin from the caretaker and stock up on supplies at the local supermarket. The road to Markov Grob is not
well signposted so I didn't set out for the cottage until 5:30 pm. Just as it got dark ~7:00 pm I was quite relieved to arrive at the cottage where I cooked up pasta with sardines that I brought over the border from Bosnia. Settled in for the night by 9:00 pm since there was nothing to do and no one else there. It was difficult to get out of my cozy bed at my prescribed time of 6:00 am so I slept in for another hour. Eventually left the cottage at 8:06 am and quickly reached Dinara's summit at 10:01 am. It was totally clear but very windy so I soon left for Brežovač at 10:09 am where I arrived at 11:33 am. Ate my lunch that I skipped on the chilly summit and left for the car at 11:58 am. Arrived at Markov Grob at 1:30 pm and Knin by 14:10 where I dropped off the cottage keys at the police station, slurped a 5KN espresso at the cafe across the street, and bolted for the sunny coast.
I was very fortunate to end up in Trogir completely by accident. After Dinara I decided
that I was going to spend my last night in Croatia in Šibenik but there was only one hotel in the entire town (Hotel Jadran, 440KN for a single, 15% discount if paying in cash price, breakfast included, no WiFi, and parking is 40KN extra - not a good deal). The tourist office on waterfront arranges double rooms with no amenities for 200KN which was more than I was willing to spend since I only needed a single. I would need to pass Trogir anyway on the way to the Split airport so ended up sleeping there instead. Accommodation and food
It took me a while to find Hotel Fontana right in the center. The asking price was €55 for a single with private bathroom, free parking in the nearby public lot (parking nearly impossible in Trogir's old town), breakfast, and WiFi. There was a 15% discount for paying in cash so the total price ended up being 320KN plus the 5.5KN city tax. I was really hungry after the summit and frantically running around looking for a place to stay so I skipped the schwanky restaurants in old town and ended up next to the public parking lot
She turned me into a newt!
Salamander, actually, I believe crawling around Plitvice.
at Berliner Imbiss where a plate of double brats and fries chased down with a half liter of Nestea went for 41KN. It seemed like an enormous amount of food and it certainly was but I had no trouble polishing it off. Transport
Bus #37 leaves frequently from Split's city bus terminal.
I also visited Split in 2000 and it was much more crowded this year even though I previously visited during peak summer season. This year I only stopped here for a day then picked up the car at the airport where I would also drop it off before flying to Rome. Accommodation and food
It is quite common in the Balkans to be met at the bus and train stations by owners of private rooms and Split was no exception. I was met by a woman who wanted to rent me a room very close to the center. The asking price was 200KN but for 2 nights the price was 160KN/night with a private bathroom and WiFi. Konoba Leut serves set meals with meat or fish for 65 or 75KN and there is WiFi so you can catch your favorite NFL team
(New England Patriots 5-3 at their very necessary bye week) live in action while chowing down. For breakfast or lunch I just grabbed a burek
or pastry and ate al fresco
down by the water. Transport
Bus from Dubrovnik takes about 4 hours (leaves approximately hourly) and costs 114KN + 8KN per checked bag. The cheapest, though definitely not the fastest, way to the Split airport is the Trogir bus (#37) departing from the city bus terminal (not by the ferries) for 17KN. The bus leaves on the :10, :30, and :50 and takes ~50 minutes to the airport. Croatia Airlines has their own bus from the waterfront bus terminal scheduled to leave for departing flights.
There are more photos below