According to my travelling standards, I had to be at the central bus station in Zagreb very early. The bus left already at 8:40. For once there were no real surprises during the trip, although a fellow passenger almost managed to produce one. Once in Plitvice I got a taste of the Croatian friendlyness.
Has that ever happened to you? You meet or observe people, of which you think they are reckless and selfish? It happened to me once again in the hostel on Sunday night, when I was in bed half an our before the official bedtime. In one respect, the American girls in my room were absolutely correct, that they didn’t quiet down once I lay in bed. Since I was tired and it was still early, I didn’t get angry, but let my thoughts meander before I fell asleep. Under different circumstances my reaction would have been a different one. Before one judges about such people, it might be a good idea to reflect ones own behavior. When was the last time you were ignorant? On purpose or not? I bet everyone can find an occurence of such behavior not long ago. Be it that you were part of a group of people standing in the middle of a door, such that nobody could pass or that you skipped the queue.
This time, the bus did not go in circles, it didn’t get towed, but everything went normally. At least for me it did. My Asian fellow passenger three rows in front of me was not quite that lucky. After about one hour of bus ride, he realized he had to go to the bathroom. As often, the lavatory on the bus was locked. Even trying to open the door a second time did not help. The bus driver had no intention to open the lavatory, so the poor fellow had to hold up until we arrived at Plitvice. In the meantime his face changed from very happy to very concerned. As far as I can tell, he did not follow in the footsteps of Gerard Depardieu.
Once in Plitvice I intended first look for a place to stay. In order to do that, I went to the Tourist Information Center (Turist Biro). Luckily, the fellow at the counter spoke very well German and suggested I rather visit the lakes first, while leaving my backpack for a small fee with them and then he would organize a private place for me to stay when I got back.
To visit the lakes, there are a number of proposed routes, taking between 2-3 hours and 6-8 hours. In my case, the fellow suggested a tour of 4-6 hours, since I arrived just before lunch time. This was the second longest tour. The difference in the tours consists of the amount of distance spent walking or being transported. The transport is part of the deal, when visiting the park.
The proposal for me included a ride on the tourist train to the highest lake, a walk back to the origin, a boat ride towards the lower end, a walk around the lower lakes and a ride back on the tourist train. I did change the last leg of the tour, because I decided to walk back from the lower end of the lakes instead of taking the tourist train.
Once more, I was glad not having done this trip during high season. There weren’t too many people, although it still wasuiet full on the narrow paths. Especially when the slow people enjoy a lazy walk next to each other and the faster people can not pass. Again the question of how well one perceives the environment and is able to realize what is going on outside his or her point of focus.
From books and photos, I knew about the different turqoise colors the lakes could take, depending on the weather. However I was surprised of how clear the water is. One can see meters below the surface, not only humans but also fish. That is why the fish always knew where to expect food. On the other hand, given a different temperature of the water, I would have enjoyed jumped in the water. It just looked so inviting.
At the end of the boat ride towards the lower end of the lakes, there is a self-serving restaurants, where one can get coffee and small snacks. It is very interesting to observe guests from other countries, who do not speak the local language, ordering food and drinks in their mother tongue, expecting that the poor person behind the counter will understand. Sometimes people even get unnerved if the person doesn’t understand. For this reason, I propose for all bus trips to countries with foreign languages, to show a DVD with the basics of the local language, such as:
– Reading: how do you pronounce those unknown letters or letter combinations
– Vocabulary: a minimal vocabulary consisting of hello, good day, goodbye, thank you, you are welcome, yes, no (more words?)
– Behavior: a little bit of patience, in case the communication does not work on the first try
Maybe I start a company on Beijing, which will produce such beginners language courses on DVD. The Chinese will certainly happily copy them for me 😉
At the end of my trip, after almost exactly the indicated five hours by the guy in the Turist Biro, I rejoined by backpack at said office. The friendly fellow started making phone calls immediately and after two calls indicated, that I will be picked up in 10 minutes by my host for the night. Once we arrived at his house, I asked him about possibilities to get to Bihac from Plitvice by bus. He said there was a possibility to go via Grabovac, but his wife had to drive there tomorrow, and she would take me along. Another challenge succesfully managed.