Lost in the Lakes: Croatian Adventure Day 5

Okay, I’ll admit that the title is a bit misleading, but day two at the Plitvice Lakes was a bit of an adventure! Make sure to check out my first day at the lakes here.

I woke up that morning to find that there was pouring rain outside, much to my disappointment. I had breakfast in my room with some yogurt and fruit I’d bought at the supermarket the day before, and some instant coffee the hotel had provided. It was my one hotel that didn’t have a breakfast included (a priority for me when I choose places), but the location was just too good to pass up on without renting a car.

Now, I’d done a bit of research the day before, and realized with surprise that the upper lakes were closed for trail maintenance. Once again the off season was thwarting my plan. I probably should have chosen to do just one day at the lakes, but unfortunately it was too late to reschedule at that point, and with the limited hours it probably was good I had made sure to give myself enough time in the event of a delayed bus or some other problem.

I noted there were some other trails in the park, though perhaps not quite as impressive as the lakeside ones. So I opted to enjoy the lower lakes again in the morning, going backwards on the route I’d taken the day before to enjoy some different angles of viewing. And then after that I’d try to take a hike in the woods. With any luck I was hoping the rain would stop by that point.

After bundling up in my fleece and rain jacket, I headed out. I hiked down to the park, caught a shuttle over to entrance 1 and then proceeded to hike down into the canyon and enjoy the lakes.

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I was soaked by the end of my time there. The sun was peeking out, but I was feeling pretty cold. I opted to go get a cup of coffee at one of the cafes and relax there while drying off.

Once I felt a little warmer, I opted to try to do a hike. I took off into the woods, heading up hill. Supposedly I might get some views of the lakes from some of the nearby peaks. I figured I’d do the trail loop and then catch the shuttle back to the entrance.


Of course, as I started up the hill rain started again. I debated turning around, but hoped maybe it would clear off.

The trail had a few painted markers on the trees, which I hoped would keep me from getting lost. I had noted as I continued hiking, I didn’t see any other people or signs that anyone else was hiking the trail.

As I headed up I kept waiting to reach a switch back that would take me further up the mountain. But I kept hiking straight ahead and had no sign of a switchback.

Now, not going to lie, I definitely started thinking of worse case scenarios. But I kept it together and realized maybe it was time to just turn around and head back. The trail was getting rougher, and I figured it was better to go back while I could still tell which direction to go.

Once I had gone a ways I did find my way back to the real trail. I had completely missed the switchback and kept going straight on what was probably an animal trail, or maybe just a route other people have taken that isn’t official. I started heading up the trail. It was still sprinkling off and on. I’d been hoping to have a picnic lunch at some point, but with the continued rain, I opted against it and just had some trail mix.

I reached the summit. Unfortunately I didn’t get a view of the lakes which I’d been hoping for, but still felt pretty accomplished.


I enjoyed the view before looking at the time and realizing I would be pretty rushed if I wanted to get all the way back down in time to catch a shuttle before the park closed at four. The whole getting lost and off the trail had cost me some time. With a heavy heart, I opted to just head back down the same way I’d come.

Thankfully I didn’t lose my way a second time. I got back down to where I’d started safely and then hiked back to my hotel.

I relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and then went to the bistro in my town for dinner again. Unfortunately, there really weren’t any other good choices.

I had a burger made from a local type of cow and with some unique cheese and toppings. It wasn’t great, but again filling and different.

Then off to bed from there, excited for another amazing day ahead.


Off to the Lakes: Croatia Day 4

From Split I had planned to head to another one of Croatia’s most famous places. Now, before I picked up some local guide books, I’d never heard of it. But it turns out it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and pretty famous place in the country. Pictures of it made me eager to make it a stop on my trip. Which was how I ended up heading to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

For those like me who have never heard of it, let me just tell you it’s a beautiful natural area with sixteen lakes that cascade through a limestone canyon. The park provides several trails and boardwalks around the lakes, shuttle service, and boats to get across sections.

Of course, first I had to get to the park, which is inland. So I caught a bus from Split heading in that direction, enjoying the beautiful countryside along the way. The company I used was a smaller Croatian company called Promet Makarska. It was the only time I used their service, which I ended up being very glad of. They made several stops along the way with breaks. Which was nice for using the bathroom or grabbing food if you wanted, but did result in the trip taking longer than I’d expected. And of course, being the off season the park closed at 4, not letting anyone in after 3 PM.


The only good news was the bus staff were very kind. I knew my hotel was slightly outside of the park in a town called Mukinje. It was a slight walk to the park, meaning if the bus dropped me off in the park, I’d have to walk back to my hotel, and then back to the park again. Which was unlikely to happen in the amount of time I had. But, when I asked the staff if it was possible to stop in Mukinje instead they very kindly agreed and even warned me when my stop came.

I walked to my room for the night which was Eva Luxury Rooms & Apartments. I met with the owner who let me in and then dumped my stuff as quickly as I could, grabbing what I thought I’d need for my time in the park and then took off running hoping to make it to the entrance before 3. It was probably around 2:30 by that time.

To my relief, the walk was mostly downhill, so I was able to go quickly and arrived in time to show my two day ticket I’d already purchased and get in the gate.

The weather was perfect. Sunny and clear. I was so unbelievably happy that I’d made it in time to spend a short time enjoying the natural beauty of the park.

I took one of the boats over to the far shore and began to work my way around the lower lakes. The lower ones have some of the more impressive parts, including the Veliki Slap (Great Waterfall), the biggest in the park.

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As someone whose last two trips had been to Colombia and Costa Rica, I wasn’t too sure how impressive the Veliki Slap might be. It’s definitely not the biggest waterfall I’d seen, but was still very beautiful and actually larger than I think I’d anticipated. The lakes themselves were crystalline, the canyon that housed them impressive. My only regret was that as it was early spring, most of the trees were still bare. I definitely hope to go back some day when things are more lush.

Having finished the trail, I caught a park shuttle from Entrance 1 back to Entrance 2, which was closer to my hotel. I then hiked back to my room and had a relaxing rest of the afternoon, doing some laundry and having some coffee.

Unfortunately options for dinner were extremely limited. Without a car I was forced to rely on what was nearby. The town I was in was puny, and while the park itself has a few restaurants, many were closed for the season, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to hike through the dark woods anyways.

So I settled on going to Bistro Vučnica one of the parks restaurants that was actually located in my town, and was supposed to be a little more budget than some of the other options.

I had pizza, which was at least filling and enjoyed a local lemon radler (beer with sparkling lemonade… it’s actually one of my favorite types of drinks). Though it was probably my most mediocre meal of the trip, I knew that that was part of the experience, and I was at the park to enjoy the nature rather than the culture like some of the other places I’d chosen.

From the restaurant I headed back for some good sleep, exhausted from all my hiking. I was excited for another day ahead enjoying the beauty of Croatia’s natural wonders.



Exploring Split: Croatian Adventure Day 3

The next morning I had breakfast at a local cafe associated with the room I was staying in. From there I walked around the old city a bit before going to meet up with a tour guide for a walking tour I’d scheduled.

To my surprise the tour guide showed up, but no one else did. Apparently being the low tourist season I was the only one to book a tour. So it became a private tour! Very unique experience, but actually quite fun. My guide took me places he said he’d never take a group, would duck into the occasional shop to let me taste something, or notice something that caught his attention and would point out that he might not normally. We spent a lot of time in the heart of the old city where the Diocletian Palace (a Roman emperor’s palace) is located, which is pretty amazing to see.

After the tour I went to the Split City museum. It was pretty small and not very interesting, but cheap and the building it was in was sort of fun at least.


Once done with that, I bought a few things at the grocery store for a picnic and breakfast the next morning (I was leaving too early to get breakfast at the cafe).

I took my food down to the Riva, which is a beautiful seaside promenade with palm trees. I sat and people watched while I ate, and enjoyed the sunshine and fresh sea air. I had hoped to do some island hopping, but unfortunately with the off-season I was unable to book a seaside tour, and I think those operating were worried about the weather potentially being poor as well. It was a bit disappointing, but I did at least get a little time to enjoy the sea.

After that I did more wandering around the city. I also paid to go into the cathedral and the baptistery, which used to be a temple to Jupiter. Both were very interesting and worth the ticket to get in.

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I finished off the evening with a little more time around the old city before I took off for Marjan Park again, thinking I might get a good view of the sunset. It ended up not working very well, as I wasn’t willing to climb to the top of the hill again. I did see a Dalmatian though, which I thought was funny considering I was in Dalmatia itself (the region of Croatia). I ended up climbing back down the hill and enjoying the sunset from the port instead.


Since the sun was down, I went to find dinner. I ended up at a small local place that hand wrote their menu daily depending on the ingredients they had. I had a lentil stew to start and some meatballs with sauce and mashed potatoes. Very hardy traditional food that was enjoyable and filling.


I wandered the old town a bit in the dark, and enjoyed seeing the beautiful sights all lit up. The cathedral had a choir and organ practicing and it was delightful to hear standing outside.

With that I headed off to go to bed and get ready for another eventful day of traveling ahead of me.

Time to Split: The Croatian Adventure Continues–Day 2

I couldn’t resist a Split pun, because of course my next trip destination is Split, Croatia!

I woke in Dubrovnik to pouring rain. I gathered my things, put on my raincoat and headed off to the nearby bus stop to catch a ride to the autobus station where I could catch my bus to Split, a city north of Dubrovnik.

Now some might ask why I didn’t just rent a car. I will admit driving is one of my least favorite activities even in my hometown. On top of that, it’s very cheap and pretty easy to get bus tickets in Europe, saving some money. And of course once you’re in the big city it’s usually easier not to have a car anyways and to rely on public transportation. Which was what I opted to do.

Now, I consider myself to be fairly adept at utilizing public transport, but I will admit city buses tend to be the form that gives me the most trouble. So, thinking I’d be proactive I asked the driver if the bus was going to the autobus station. He nodded and I went back and found a spot to stand with my suitcase.

I kept an eye out on my phone to try to see where approximately I might need to get off. However, I watched in surprise as the bus zoomed right by the autobus station. I had a brief moment where I thought maybe the bus stop was a few meters further down the road, but as I watched my dot on the map moving out of Dubrovnik and heading for the next town in the metropolitan area, I realized I had clearly missed my stop. I pressed the button to request a stop and watched as the bus driver looked back in time to see me and throw up his hands in disgust.

I got off at the next stop, finding myself back in the pouring rain. I had left early thankfully, but looking at my phone it still approximated at least a fifteen minute walk back to the station. I was just about to panic when I realized my bus ticket covered transfers, so I could technically go over to the stop on the other side of the road and catch the bus back into town.

Thankfully, another bus pulled up shortly after and I managed to get off at the appropriate stop. I breathed a sigh of relief before going to find my bus to Split.

I used several different bus chains during my travels, but my first I started with was Arriva. All in all they are actually my top recommendation for anyone travelling by bus in Croatia.

I spent the drive listening to audiobooks and looking out the windows. I actually found it kind of fun because we drove through Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Due to how the borders are drawn Croatia actually is not all interconnected. Bosnia has a small strip of shore access at the city of Neum. So delightfully in driving from Dubrovnik to Split you get to stop to cross into Bosnia and then maybe ten or fifteen minutes later you get to stop to cross back into Croatia. Interesting experience to be sure.

Other than that the drive was uneventful. I arrived in Split in the early afternoon and thankfully it had stopped raining. I found my way to my room for the night called Ziggy Star. It was interesting because I had mistakenly assumed it was some kind of hotel or b & b but it actually was just a single room in the old town, not unlike an airbnb. It did come with the advantage of breakfast at a local cafe in the morning though and was altogether a great location for a stay.

After my stuff was dropped off, I decided since the weather was so lovely I’d take advantage of the sunshine and head to a local park. Marjan Forest Park is a coastal hill right near the main city that you can climb for fantastic views as well as beaches and fun wandering trails.

I ended up spending several hours wandering the hill. I think I ended up walking about eight miles. It was fantastic. The views were beautiful and I even dipped my aching feet into the Adriatic (it wasn’t warm enough for anything beyond that).

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Tired out I took a break at my room and then cleaned up to go to dinner. I decided to try Bokeria, a restaurant in the old town I’d heard good things about. It ended up being one of my favorite dinners of the trip.

I had a “bruschetta” which was actually pears with Gorgonzola, balsamic glaze, and nuts on toasted bread. Then for my main course I had “ravioli” which was more pastry like rather than like pasta filled with wild game meat. And then for dessert this yummy little white chocolate raspberry coconut treat. And of course a glass of local Croatian wine as well!

After eating well, I headed back to my place for a good night’s sleep.

Thanks for reading about my second day of my adventure! Hopefully I will have more up soon.

I did have a question on my last post which was “Why Croatia?”

Well, the most simple answer comes down to these criteria. I wanted a place that:

  • I hadn’t been to before (you can check my “about” section to see what countries this ruled out).
  • Somewhere I’d feel somewhat safe as a female solo traveler (I mean someday maybe I’ll take more risks but for now that pretty much took Africa, South and Central America off my list).
  • Somewhere that wasn’t in a crisis (meaning no Australia with their wildfires or Asia with the COVID19 crisis– it hadn’t spread to Europe at the time I was planning my trip…).
  • Somewhere not outrageously expensive.

Croatia ended up fitting all of those things pretty well at the time. It’s a pretty safe country. In the off-season it’s not quite as expensive. And I’d never been there but had always heard good things. I found a pretty budget flight and the pieces just all fell together!

Feel free to ask other questions and I’ll do my best to answer in the next few posts.

The Spontaneous Adventure Begins: Dubrovnik

Hello everyone. I know it’s been quite some time since my last blog post, but I haven’t been traveling as much now that I live in the States again. However, I recently had a pretty fun spontaneous vacation and have had several people ask me to blog about it. And since I’m currently in isolation due to the COVID-19 situation, I have some time on my hands.

A little more than a month ago I was feeling a little bit drained from my daily life. I keep some travel photos by my desk at work, and I remember looking over at them and thinking how much I could use another adventure about now.

Which was how I very spontaneously decided to purchase plane tickets to visit Croatia. I had two weeks of paid time off saved up at my job, a decent amount tucked away in savings, and as it was March and therefore the off season, I knew I could find things for much cheaper than I would normally.

Of course, when I booked all this Coronavirus really hadn’t become the pandemic it is now, or I obviously would have chosen to postpone my trip to a better time. But it did make things kind of an adventure, which I hope to elaborate for you here.

The first stop on my tour was Dubrovnik. For any who don’t know, its a beautiful UNESCO protected city on the Adriatic Sea in Croatia, surrounded by strong fortifications and filled with history. For any Game of Thrones Fans, there was some filming done there (I am not personally a GOT person so cannot attest to everything the city has to offer– but it definitely has upped the popularity of Dubrovnik as a travel destination).

I’ll skip the boring travel details for you. I flew from Seattle to Frankfurt and then down to Dubrovnik from there. It was a long two days of travel. So I was pretty exhausted when I arrived in the evening. But even then, as my taxi driver delivered me to the walls and dropped me off to walk to my hotel (as there are no cars allowed in the old city), I was pretty awed by what I saw.

Driving in at night really served to highlight the beauty of these strong walls surrounding the old town. They looked so impressive lit up.

The town itself was completely quiet as I snuck down to my hotel. I stayed in a cute bed and breakfast called Andio (meaning angel in Croatian) tucked back in a street in the old town.

Needless to say I turned in for the night, and woke the next morning ready for an exciting day.

When I opened my blinds I was delighted to see sunshine. Rain had been in the forecast before I arrived, and it had been pouring on my way in that evening. Thankfully the sky was clear, making it the perfect day to get out and explore.


I had breakfast at my hotel before taking off for the city walls. It is, after all, one of the most famous parts of Dubrovnik.

Once up on the walls, I had fantastic views of the old city and the sea. It was pretty warm in the direct sun even in the spring, so I cannot imagine doing the walls in the summer. For any visiting in June-August I recommend some sunblock and going early in the day!

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Nonetheless, I continued walking the walls, getting all the way around the city and taking a bunch of photos. Please enjoy them if they will load for you. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!

After that, I met up with a walking tour. I’d originally booked a free one. For any who haven’t experienced free walking tours, they are some of the best things to do in a new and unknown city! You meet up with your guide, do the tour, and then tip what you feel is the appropriate amount based on how good it is. I’ve done a couple dozen at this point, and have never had one I felt was “bad” and many that were simply excellent. However, due to the off-season and lack of interest, my free tour ended up cancelling on me last minute. So I had to book with an actual paid tour company instead, though it ended up being worth the money. I showed up and to my surprise only one other person was there! Our guide Ivana walked us around the old town telling us more about the history. I learned a lot and had fun.

Once we were done, I decided to take the cable cars up to the top of Mount Srd (got to love Croatian words without vowels… no it’s not an abbreviation of some kind). It had fantastic views over the old city. Unfortunately it was cold and windy so I didn’t linger for very long.


I spent the rest of the afternoon just wandering the city enjoying the sites. And then I went to find dinner. My tour guide had recommended a restaurant just outside the old city called Dubravka.

I had fresh squeezed orange juice (you might notice some oranges in the pictures above… definitely a good local fruit option), and then a steak with a mustard and gin sauce. It was pretty delicious! On top of that I loved having views of the walls from my table!


After a fantastic first day I turned in for the night. I was ready for the next day of adventure ahead. You’ll just have to wait for my next post to read about it.