Croatia (Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes, Zadar and Krka)

We spent an entire week in Croatia so this blog post will be split up based on the different places we went.

First though, I have to mention our train from Budapest to Zagreb, Croatia. You can first enjoy this selfie we took on the train.

Train to Zagreb
Train to Zagreb

What was supposed to be a 6 hour train ride become close to an 8 hour adventure. There was no reason given to us, but when we crossed into Croatia, we were stuck with border control for a long time. I will not go into detail about this, but I do have to mention this crazy story. I got up the courage to finally go to the bathroom when the train made one of its stops in Hungary. Panicking, I turned around to see that there was no flush button. As I stared down the toilet seat, I was suddenly aware that it was a literal hole in the ground. Anything put down that hole would lead straight to the roads or tracks. Knowing that the train is stopped…you can make your own guesses. Later border control came in to check passports and give stamps as we crossed country lines into Croatia.

ZAGREB

Tired and hungry (sorry we are no longer in Hungary so I can’t use the pun) we headed to our Air Bnb and ate some sandwiches. Our Air BnB host was amazing and I wish we could have stayed longer than one night. The next morning Me and Lizzy woke up early to go see the sights before our check out time. We saw the beautiful white cathedral. There were beautiful hand painted eggs in flower hearts outside since Easter was in a couple days. Then we wandered around and took in all the pretty buildings. We came across a local market and bought some fruits and nuts.

The beautiful cathedral in Zagreb
The beautiful cathedral in Zagreb
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The Easter bunny coming in clutch
The Easter bunny coming in clutch

Me and Lizzy also found this cute park in the middle of town filled with colorful flowers. It was the first time since being here that I saw hope for sun and flowers. (Incase you don’t know Ireland is rainy and cloudy almost 24/7)

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2038.
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We then had to check out and decided to go to a grocery store to pick up food. Our next stop was for 2 nights and 3 days in the National Park and we wanted to save money. We thought why not pick up some food and cook for ourselves. Since we had to take a long bus to the parks, we only got non perishables such as pasta, bread and a small jar of peanut butter. All stuffed up we headed to the bus station.

PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK (Plitvička Jezera)

The manager of the Air Bnb told us to get off at the bus stop before the Plitvice Entrance and then a car would be sent to pick us up. We run off the bus (which had no bathroom for hours) and find ourselves standing in a small shack on the roadway with all our things and no international phones or wifi. Luckily there was a small hotel right by that let us borrow a phone. A man in a white van then picked us up and took us up a mountain and to the Air Bnb (I know a man in a white van….don’t get in, but you know when in Croatia?)

We were given a quaint room with two bedroom areas and a kitchen. There were a couple problems though. 1. No wifi 2. No place to buy food within 16km 3. We had planned on buying all food once there and had no car or means to go 16km 4. Dinner was offered at the Air Bnb…for 18 euro a person (so no) 5. We ate pasta for 3 days straight 6. We had no salt for said pasta so we had to steal some (not our shinning moment)

As much as everyone was upset about the whole no wifi thing, I found it relaxing. Obviously I wanted to let my friends and family know that I arrived safely, but otherwise it was liberating to not be tied down to the emails and notifications stocking up my phone. Thankfully the manager let us borrow her phone to go on Facebook and message our parents. I think that this was a blessing in disguise. We stayed up all night playing games, telling stories and laughing. I feel like I really got to know all the girls I was with on a closer level and for that I am so grateful. After our first pasta dinner and round of games, we went to bed.

The next morning was our full day of adventuring in the park. We got so lucky! The weather was beautiful, 60s and sunny! We had a short walk to the third entrance of the park and from there had to take a ferry to the 1st entrance to start the hike. The park had multiple entrances and each one had different sights and paths. Some required ferries and some were just a tram ride away. We did do all of them by the end of the day.

Entrance 3 to the park...pay close attention to the reflection in the water!
Entrance 3 to the park…pay close attention to the reflection in the water!

We had lunch while overlooking the biggest waterfall in the park. The water was a teal and green color that sparkled in the sun. (Nothing like the Jersey shore)

The biggest waterfall in the park
The biggest waterfall in the park

We then hiked down the mountain to walk through this huge waterfall. Part of the walkway was flooded so we had to take our sneakers and socks off to cross. The water was freezing, but the walk was well worth the views! There was a rainbow overarching the two peaks of the waterfall. Probably one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen,

Somewhere over the rainbow, shoes go over falls
Somewhere over the rainbow, shoes go over falls

Then things got serious! I left my sneakers on a wall where another family had placed theres to go take pictures. When I returned my shoes were the only ones left. They looked awesome sitting on the stone wall so I decided to take an artsy photo.

The last picture they will ever have together
The last picture they will ever have together

But then after the photo I turned to pick up the first shoe and WHAM…my shoe drops into the little stream that leads to the biggest fall in the park. I watched with puppy dog eyes as my lone sneaker floated peacefully towards the ledge and down the fall. Everyone else just stared in amazement then at me, waiting for a reaction. After some choice words, I was laughing. Nothing you can do now. There was only one slight problem…what was I going to wear for the rest of the hike.

Luckily Lizzy had bought her chacos along with her sneakers. The chacos were 2 sizes too big for me and i looked like a dork wearing my wool knee socks in them. Well, I was just happy to be wearing shoes at this point. It was all fine and dandy until we had to go down a series of slippery staircases. Just as I was near the bottom, the oversized shoe made me stumble and I fell straight on my butt on the stone steps. Also my hand had gone to stop the fall, but was left scrapped and bleeding. Someone had a band-aid and we washed it off with a water bottle and tissue. Again, I just sat there laughing because what else can you do? Then I took an ironic photo with my bloody band aid in front of the “caution steps are slippery” sign.

The irony!
The irony!

Okay so just some minor set backs, but I believe that life is about laughing so I am just happy to share these funny stories with you. The rest of the hike was beautiful. The park is set up with small boardwalks that go through the many natural waterfalls in the park. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, although they cannot even show how beautiful the sights actually were.

Plitvice National Park
Plitvice National Park

We then headed back for another night of gourmet pasta dinner and board games. The next day I decided that it was only right to throw my other shoe into the falls in hopes that it will reunite with its “sole” mate. (sorry I just love puns) After a sad moment of sorrow I chucked the shoe into the waterfall!

I also wrote this poem about it when I was bored on the bus:

Ode to my blue shoe

Down the waterfall are you

As if right on queue

As if your time was due

You fell into the watery abyss

Floating free with bliss

The water was a myriad of hues

But your sole was forever sunken in blues

Here's me throwing the second shoe!
Here’s me throwing the second shoe!

We had to be up early to check out and get the bus to Zadar. The van dropped us off at Entrance 1 and there we found a mini market that had food other than pasta and chips. We bought some salami and yogurt (okay I know weird combination, but at the time my body needed this)

ZADAR

We waited outside the bus station and a creepy middle aged man kept asking us where we were going. We had to remind him several times that we were fine and made sure to not tell him any details. It is common in most countries for people to pose as cab drivers and charge ridiculous amounts of money. Finally the bus came and we escaped the creepy “cab” driver. The drive over was beautiful and full of scenic mountains.

We checked in to our Air Bnb and were overwhelmed by the sunny weather. My casper legs were reflecting light as I slipped on my first pair of shorts since Alabama. We all wore shorts, dresses and skirts and hopped excitedly outside. Although it was warm for us Ireland peeps, the locals were all dressed in pants, boots and jackets. As we pranced down the streets, we got confused looks from every passer by. We soon realized the reason. Turns out once the sun sets (which was in about an hour) it gets pretty cold…cold enough that you would not want to be in shorts. It was too late to turn back. Luckily we reached the coast in time to catch some pictures with sunlight.

Zadar
Zadar

The city center had entirely tiled streets and gorgeous old ruin-like buildings. There was a main tower and many ruins surrounding some of the main museums. We decided to eat some dinner and gelato. Don’t worry this will not be the last gelato.

Zadar city center ruins
Zadar city center ruins
Main Square
Main Square

We stopped at a grocery store on the way back to buy some real food for once. As we entered the store was closing so we took off grabbing what we thought necessary. I think I grabbed chicken, eggs and maybe rice? Either way we had eggs and toast for the next morning. It had been so long since I had eggs. (If you know me, you know how much I love eggs and breakfast)

After our breakfast, the day was rainy and cold so we did not know what to do. We decided to duck into a bar/cafe and order some mid-day margaritas. This turned into pina coladas and sex on the beaches. Then we got more gelato.

Gelato is life
Gelato is life

That night we did get to see my favorite part of Zadar. It is called the Sea Organ. It plays music by way of the sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps. There are some lights on the floor that light up to the music. During the day it is relaxing to sit and listen to the waves and the sea. At night it is breathtaking to watch the colors light up.

The Sea Organ by day
The Sea Organ by day
The Sea Organ by night
The Sea Organ by night

KRKA NATIONAL PARK

We decided to do a day trip to Krka National Park the next day. It is another park filled with boardwalks and waterfalls at every turn. This one was smaller than Plitvice, but still gorgeous! Our bus driver who took us there was quite the talker. Fun fact: He once bungee jumped off a bridge we passed in Zadar.

Krka National Park
Krka National Park
Krka National Park
Krka National Park
No worries I bought new shoes for this hike
No worries I bought new shoes for this hike

BACK TO ZADAR

Then of course we had to get another round of gelato after Krka. We decided to sit out by the sea organ while there was still sunlight and listen to the waves and music. Later we made our last family meal and headed to bed and packed.

The next morning was bright and sunny (of course on the day we leave). Since we had all our bags, we sat at a cafe outside and sipped on coffee. We took turns walking around and getting gelato. Then we had to take a taxi to the airport and await our travels home. I had been saving a cookies and cream hershey bar all trip and as reward for making it back, I devoured it!

We got into Dublin airport around 7:00pm and then got on a bus back to Limerick at 8:00pm. The bus took forever and we ended up getting back to Plassey Village around midnight. We were beyond exhausted, but happy to have a week of no constant moving. When traveling you get so exhausted from all the planes, buses, walking and planning. It will be nice this week to take time and recompress (maybe also write some essays for class?).

I leave for Bruges, Belgium in a week with Dillon for our 2 year anniversary. I am beyond excited and cannot wait to share the stories on my next blog.

Until then, please enjoy this photo of me in mid dance at the Prague pub crawl with backlight Z’s everywhere!

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