Exhausted by the previous day, we slept very well through the night, and so, we woke early, well-rested and fresh, to the sunlight trickling in from the windows and the sounds of birds chirping. We were staying at hotel Plitvice, within the lakes area itself, which really felt like an extension of the forest. Though the costliest hotel, and the most basic one of our trip, the closeness to the lakes themselves, free parking and the free entry for the second day made it a great draw. I’d also been worried that it might rain, in which case, being nearby meant drying and warming up that much faster, though eventually, it didn’t rain at all.
A large spread, but very-average-in-taste breakfast, laid in the HUGE dining hall (of this typical communist era hotel) was hogged by us in anticipation of another long walking day. Just outside it, the kiddo discovered a piano where she promptly sat down and played “A hundred miles”. Beautifully. And some random stuff that led to a lot of applause from an American family (and led to a very fluffed-up kid).
We rushed down the forested path to the same lake that we had crossed the previous day, to cross to the other side, to tour the lower lakes. We confirmed with the rangers that we should take trail F to see all the lower lakes and set off, wishing again that we had left time for rowing across the lake, near the beautiful falls.
From here, we would take a long boat ride across lake Kozac, the largest lake, to reach the lower lakes trail. Waiting for the boat, we took closer looks at the flowers and the plants growing in this rich paradise. Like yesterday, the brat ran up and down the steps over the first set of falls, scaring me no end. But it was too pretty a day to waste in fretting, so I gave up running after her and took pictures instead.
And tried, desperately, to create the silky waterfall effect, without much success.
And marvelled at the paths leading to the upper lakes, the paths that our kid was frantically trying to pull us to again. “Not today,” I told her firmly, something I regretted terribly later on.
Today was even sunnier than the previous day and the sunlight was sparkling over the deep blue waters of the lake. All around were the lush green trees, their reflection even more beautiful than the trees themselves. The clear blue sky with fluffy white clouds shone in the waters.
Seated on the electric boat, with the crisp cool air on our faces and the complete silence around us, broken only by the occasional ripples when a boat passed us the other way, confirmed our belief that this was Croatian heaven.
The large lake, like those we’d seen the previous day, looked different at different places. Light green at the start, deep blue in the center, emerald green at the end, shades we couldn’t ever imagine. We got off the boat to a huge picnic area with loads and loads of wooden tables. The cafeteria, restroom, souvenir shop and even the tourist information desk were built as wooden cottages.
From here, we followed path F that would take us along the lower lakes to the Veliki Slap, the tallest waterfall of Plitvice, from where we could climb up to see the aerial view of the entire lower lakes canyon, the most famous of all viewpoints of Plitvice. To get there, we crossed yet another lake with long reeds all along, just to have the peace and silence broken by, “aji, khakhra khaso ke gatthia?” shrieked at the shrillest pitch possible.
There is no escaping the Gujjus. They are omnipresent. In their big groups, with even bigger food bags. Of course, when one runs into them, one must smile, chat for a few seconds, grab some farsan and toblerone and then run to save one’s eardrums from permanent damage.
The only threats to this fame of the Gujjus are the Chinese. There’s no escaping them, as they are in far larger numbers now than the Gujjus.
One should carry ear plugs.
Or simply, marvel at this unending beauty.
But as we crossed the lake, the route marked F was closed off. We retraced our steps to another turning in the forest and another sign, but that was cordoned off too. Sorely tempted was I to cross the barriers and walk on, but good sense and fear (mainly fear) took over and we walked back to the tourist information. Turned out that the lower lakes were flooded by the rains of the past week and paths were being repaired, so all routes through the lower lakes were closed off. What?!?! Why hadn’t any ranger till now told us this? Loads of abuses ran through my head, but finally it was clear to us; either we had to jump the ropes or simply see only the aerial views.
Terribly disappointed, we climbed up higher and higher till we walked along the narrow path at the top of the canyon. It was much hotter now, and the rapid ascent had us panting and shedding our warm clothes. There was precious little to see too, as there were tall trees blocking the view.
The kid was whining, the hubby trudging along, my heart was heavy with having forbidden the upper lake trek as my daughter had wanted. I could understand her anger, her frustration. I had shown her videos of walking over tall falls, alongside Veliki Slap, along small falls that sprayed all over you. She had thoroughly enjoyed getting up, close and personal with the water the previous day. And here we were, so high up that we couldn’t even hear the water, with just the trees for company and a few sneak peaks of what could have been. I could see how she felt, cheated.
And then, all of a sudden, we came upon a lookout with this view.
Gasp! Gasp again! And then click, click, click! The only sounds that we heard from the group of astounded people at the lookout, including ourselves. Suddenly our sadu mood was gone. We started smiling again.
Unreal it was. Even today, when I look at the pics, it seems as though we are posing against a poster and not standing in an actual place! We walked on with a spring in our step to come upon Veliki Slap at last! The tallest waterfall of Plitvice Lakes was grander than all the pictures seen.
The boardwalks go right past the lower lakes till the base of Veliki Slap and overlooking this set of falls. This was what the kid and I were most excited about. This is what we missed. The most. This is what we shall go back for, sometime, someday. Hopefully, in the fall season, where Plitvice is a riot of colors as my bestie showed me on her recent trip.
Till then, I shall remember Plitvice as a magical wonderland with some more tricks up her sleeve. Till then, I’ll google pictures and videos of others walking along the “forbidden path”. Till then, I’ll be dreaming of walking along this.