Thursday, June 5, 2008

Travelling through Croatia

We started travelling more and there was less time for writing. Zadar was a delight. especially having a little apartment where we were able to play music. We drove from Zadar up to Plitvice Lakes - a series of lakes with many waterfalls. There are many walks to take, the shortest of which is about 3 hours. You take a mini-train up through a steep, winding, narrow path and then walk down on wooden walkways and forest paths through lakes, ponds and gushing water. As we started walking, we were greeted by the sounds of frogs. While this area is not spectacular, in the sense of Niagara Falls, it is very lovely. It is the number and variety of waterfalls and the colour of the water in the lakes and ponds that is astonishing. The colour of the water ranges from emerald greens to blues and is crystal clear. You can see every detail of the bottom in the shallower areas. Every lake has a waterfall or multiple falls cascading from the rocky sides. Hard to describe and I really hope my photos do justice to the beauty of the area. At the end of a long, hot hike we had to take a very short boat ride back to the "train" stop and then a long climb to the parking area.

We still had a lot of driving to do. We found the route that we thought would be best to meet up with the highway to get to Pula, our next stop. The road very quickly turned into more of a lane through dense forest. Fortunately we saw a sign that said we were on the right road, because we really didn't want to turn around and drive it again! Finally we reached a town and the road got a little wider - 2 lanes and a line painted down the centre. This was the big time. The road passed through small farming communities. Vestiges of the war remain. We passed a church - a standing shell with no roof and bushes and small trees growing inside. Even in villages, beside the intact houses stand others with no windows or roof and charred wood inside. We wondered why they have been left standing. The road climbed and descended mountains with views looking over forested areas or pastoral valleys. The route took much longer than we had expected.

Once we reached the motorway, it was much faster going. Croatia is obviously investing a lot of money into infrastructure. The motorways go through long tunnels in the mountains - in many places the tunnel for one direction is completed but the other is not so traffic narrows to two lanes. In conversations with some Croatians, we were lead to believe that there is not the same investment in social programmes.

We stopped for supper in Rijeka which is more grandiose than the other Adriatic towns we have been in. Public buildings are in good repair, but others need much work, somewhat like Budapest. We drove the road to Pula in darkness and didn't get there until late in the evening.

Still travelling....

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