Our Journey of Thirty-two Sleeps: # 27; Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Sleep # 27

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park is stunning in its natural beauty in all seasons. When you see the brochures advertising Plitvice Lakes, all of the photos are showing the full strength of summer and the green against the water screams out at you. When we got out of the car today after a two-hour drive, started walking and enjoying our long walk into the lakes I was stunned realizing that everything was in full fall colors. What was I thinking? Did I really expect the picture perfect green brochure photo?  Perhaps naiveté got me and I did.  November is full bloom autumn in Croatia.

Before showing you some of the lovely, lovely photos of Plitvice Lakes in autumn let me explain a little about the day and how it was different in every way from any of the others.

I booked the tour taking a two hour drive each way to see the lakes when we were told that we would dock at 9:00 a.m. and re-board he ship at 5:30 p.m. giving us ample time to make the day work. First, the ship was late in docking due to severe weather through the night. It was raining when we pulled into Zadar.  The original tour guide was ill and we were provided with a lovely girl named Marina.  Marina met us at the dock and told us that her friend was driving us to the lakes. She said she had not renewed her license, so she had made arrangements with her friend, another little young lady as the driver.  As we drove off they mentioned that the car was small, apologized for it and mentioned that it was a rental car.  Oh gosh. We started in a complete blinding rainstorm to the northern part of Croatia. We took a wrong turn, but quickly remedied it and were on our way again.

Before we left the ship, the Captain said that he had changed the time to return to the ship for 3:00p.m. rather than the original time of 5:30 p.m. due to the weather.  We forged ahead, and I often reminded the absolutely beautiful and lovely girls that we had to be back by 3:00 pm and they assured us they had it all under control.  You will see from the photos that this visit was a photographer’s dream and certainly one everyone should have on their Bucket List.  I watched our time and calculated our  time into the park carefully.  When our adorable leaders wanted to take on another lake, I flatly said we had to return because as it was, we were cutting our time close.  It was a long downhill walk into the lakes and a walk on slats that in the brochure look flat and streamlined, but in actuality were bumpy, steps galore, and big gaps have appeared in them. It is a hard trip in and an even harder one climbing out.  I had a cheering fan club and they helped to make it up and out fine.  On the way home the girls took a wrong turn and did not realize it for about 20-25 minutes and so, we turned around and headed back to the right road.  Now we knew we were going to be about an hour late for sure.   We tried for a half hour to call the emergency number provided by the ship on the ship’s boarding cards and the number did not work. Finally, a ship’s number we called asked for a credit card, as the call was $9.50 a minute. After trying another 15 minutes to give the credit card number, we were frustrated because they would not accept the card number and just hung up. Or shall I say the machine hung up.   We gave up on the emergency number that should have enabled us to tell the ship we were on the way, naughty, naughty on the ship.  The agency where we booked the trip is closed on Sunday and no one could be reached. All four of us were stressed to the maximum.

We were all beginning to panic because we knew we are going to miss the ship. The intensity of frustration in the car is thick. My mouth went dry and I felt like my body was splitting in half over the stress.  Skip is handling the situation, as he is not yelling at these little adorable girls or me either. Finally, Marina gets a brilliant idea and calls a friend who lives near the dock and asks him to go over to the ship and tell them we are on our way and not to leave us.  Another 20 minutes of shear torture go by, finally the friend called with the good news that the ship will not leave us. We drove up to the dock at 4:00 p. m. and the ship with gangplank in place is waiting for us. We screamed and jumped out of the car; the girls jumped out, we madly hug each other and we ran for the ship and they drove off waving like mad.

It was a terrible and wonderful day. It was a painful and peaceful day. It was a tender and aching day. We met new friends in Croatia. You could not help loving these girls and they gave back to us. Being under stress either pulls you apart or pulls you together. In this case the screeching and hugging at the gangplank was a sight many people saw and thought to mention it to us.  I had hoped no one would know it was S & S who kept everyone on the ship waiting and our return would go unnoticed. How could they not know it was us because we were told it was announced over the loudspeaker. Oh gosh, how to become the center of attention in one or two minutes, lasting for days. I think waiting was good for them. I can’t tell you why, but for some mysterious reason and there is a reason, it was a good thing for them to have to wait.  And it is a blessed thing that we got back to the ship.

Someone asked us if the trip was worth all of the stress. You be the judge:

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Walking to the entrance of the park,

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Walking with our two beautiful Croatian guides.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Suellen
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 08:10:49

    Sheila, My heart was pounding as I read of your adventure. I know it was something you will never forget. The accounts of your trip have been fantastic. Love, love, love the pictures.

    Reply

  2. Dina
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 19:58:02

    Beautiful photos, really.
    Yes, there was a very good reason, I get it.

    Reply

  3. Reene
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 12:43:57

    yes–it was worth the stress and something to remember!!! Reene

    Reply

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