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Saturday, October 30, was the big day. It was also really cold and foggy that morning. Bill had purchased our tickets for the Plitvice Lakes National Park for 10:00am. We were allowed to enter the park only from 10:00 am until 11:00am. I think this system is to prevent huge crowds of people showing up at the same time. It’s probably better for the natural environment and everyone’s enjoyment if the crowds are staggered. Of course, COVID-19 also makes the crowd staggering important, as it prevents too many people mingling and creating a superspreader event.

The park’s Web site recommended dressing in layers. I was cold enough that I took that advice. I wore heavy wool socks, a hoodie jacket, and my big Irish wool coatigan (basically, a long cardigan that zips and stretches enough to cover my beer gut). After breakfast, we made our way to the park. I was a bit afraid that it would be foggy there, as it was at the house. But as we entered town, the fog lifted, and we had glorious sunshine. It was going to be a great day for a walk through the sixteen named lakes, several unnamed lakes, and waterfalls that make up Plitvice Lakes.

I took so many pictures over the six hours we were at the park. Bill and I ended up walking almost the entire park. We did Route C, which is the third longest. If we had done Route K, we would have been there until nightfall and I would have probably needed an intravenous line. As it was, I was exhausted by the end of our day, but I will never forget the incredible beauty of the lakes and falls, even if the crowds got a little bit annoying. Brace yourself for lots of photos!

After about a half hour of walking, I knew that I was going to get too hot before long. I had been cold at the beginning of the day… but walking makes body heat. Plus, the sun was out in full force. We were very lucky, weather wise. I also got some videos of the waterfalls, which I will eventually turn into a YouTube video. Maybe I’ll get to it today. Maybe not.

Edited to add… here’s the video!

Phew… this was a trial to make on many levels!

As we were walking, jaws dropping at each new sight and the huge panorama of so many brilliant colors, I couldn’t help but realize that summer and late spring are probably madness at this park! But I’ll bet it’s so beautiful, too, since everything’s blooming and green. I’m sure this park is beautiful no matter what time of year it is. I think they do close part of it in the winter, though, which is smart, since there are a lot of slippery areas and the paths don’t usually have guardrails. I wonder how many people have fallen into the lakes, even though swimming there has been forbidden since 2006.

It was at about this time that we found ourselves at one of the several rest stations. This was where toilets, souvenirs, and food were, as well as the boats to the other side of the park. I was ready for a rest, so we went into the restaurant, where sandwiches and french fries were available, as well as a dizzying and surprising array of drinks, many of which contained alcohol. We stuck with good old Croatian beer. It’s important to know that cash is not accepted at the park, so bring your credit card if you visit. Also, don’t buy anything at the souvenir shop if you’re just getting started, because you’ll have to cart it with you… I didn’t learn this the hard way, thank God.

I was already getting tired after the boat ride, which was one way and committed us to walk the rest of the park. Luckily, the sheer beauty of the park and the prospect of being stuck there if I collapsed kept me going. And they were some beautiful sights, even though I don’t walk as fast as I used to. Below is the last batch of photos from Saturday’s walk, which took about six hours and was over seven miles… Not bad for a fatass housewife, huh?

We caught the shuttle at the end. I was grateful I didn’t take the mysterious staircase that would have taken us on another two hour segment. Maybe I could have done it, but I was really exhausted at the end of the day. We got on the shuttle with other masked people… again, probably the only place I saw people in Croatia properly masking. I was pretty irritable, because I was hungry and very tired. But there were many people on the shuttle who had lots of energy… and they were speaking in so many different languages. We heard English, Spanish, Italian, Croatian, and God knows what else… and Bill and I were both reminded of a particularly obnoxious bus ride in Puerto Rico we experienced when we took our first SeaDream cruise and there was a crew of obnoxious Brazilians aboard who were driving the bartenders crazy by staying up all night and getting wasted. We were going to the Bioluminescent Lake in Vieques, which was really beautiful, but I was tired and hungry, and the seat we were sitting on was busted.

Well… the ride in Croatia wasn’t that bad. At least the seat on the bus wasn’t broken, like it was on the bus ride in Vieques, Puerto Rico. But I was definitely running out of juice, and patience, and my muscles were stiffening by the second… By the time we got off at the last bus stop, we had to walk another mile or so out of the park and to the parking lot. I had, by that time, shed my layers and was carrying my sweater and my hoodie.

Despite being exhausted and crabby at the end of our day, I am really glad we visited and walked so much. I’m glad I can still do it. And I’m glad I don’t have to do it again.

Stay tuned for part seven.

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