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Islands of the North Atlantic Trip report

More or less the end, at Zagreb

I picked up the last rental car in Split, on the morning of the 28th. Of course they didn’t have the model I’d specified. Thought that by “optioning up” to an SUV I would at least have adequate luggage room, but it turns out that the luggage capacity of our Nissan is even less than that of the little Suzuki that we’d hired on Korcula. For the first time, mum’s duffel bag had to travel as a passenger, on the back seat. Not ideal, but at least we got moving, eventually.

West a little to Trogir, just out of Split to have a look around. Another little medieval stone town, with a big castle at one end. Some associatian with the ancient Venetians. It was hot and sunny. The various services, military, police, etc., were out on display in the town square. It’s possible that this had something to do with St Michael’s day, which was being celebrated, somehow.

From there on to Zadar for a night. Zadar is a port town with a protected harbour and an old town on the peninsula that does the protecting. You can walk from one side to the other in about five minutes. Ancient ruins, busy tratoria. Nice waterfronts. We retired to a bar on top of the town walls, overlooking the entrance to the harbour, and drank coctails while we watched the yachts and ferries come in from their day of sailing. Very pleasant. Found a nice seafood restaurant and booked it for dinner. Also walking distance in the opposite direction from the apartments.

After breakfast in Zadar, we drove inland to the Plitvička jezera (lakes) National Park, and checked into our B&B. The rooms weren’t quite ready, so we went a bit further up the road for lunch, which turned out to be delicious and enormous. “Meat balls” on the English menu turned out to be chevapi, served on a large toasted bun not quite like foccacia, with sour cream and raw onions on the side. I didn’t need any dinner after that. As we were going to spend the next day in the national park, we just went for short walks around the local village that afternoon. Much cooler up in the mountains than down at the coast. Needed a jumper by evening.

The Plitvička jezera are beautiful, and quite unlike anything I’d seen before. Most of Croatia is made of limestone, which dissolves easily in water. This creates caves, stalactites and stalagmites, in my experience. Here the water is on the surface: a river system, but the limestone still deposits out, creating the edges of pools. Lakes, in fact. These build up over the ages, with the water finding the lowest point to flow over, but eventually building that up too, so the edges of these pools are long and even, with waterfalls along much of their dam-like length. The effect is like cave pools, but above ground, covered in mosses, filled with reeds along the shallow edges, and surrounded by beautiful forrests, a combination of a deciduous tree something like a birch (but taller than birches I’ve seen) and evergreen connifers. Entry is quite expensive by Australian national park standards (about AUD30 per head, for the day) but for that they actually provide services and the paths and boardwalks are well maintained. There is a bus-train that takes you between three stations. We arrived at the middle one, on advice from our B&B, and rode it to the upper one, from where we hiked back down beside the lakes and falls. Back at the middle, we caught a small ferry (also on the ticket) across the lake to a cafe/WC/picnic spot, where we had our picnic lunch. Then back across the lake to catch the larger ferry down the length of the big lake, to be closer to “Big Waterfall”. Hiked down to see Big Waterfall, then back up the track a bit to catch the bus-train back to the stop that we’d started, and home for dinner (at the B&B). Big day. The hiking was easy, but the crowds got quite oppressive towards the afternoon, as bus-load after bus-load seemed to arrive, following their flag-carrier in somber groups. Very glad we went in the order that we did.

So this morning we packed ourselves off to Zagreb, our last stop. Done a little sight-seeing this afternoon, and have a well-regarded restaurant booked for our last dinner before flying. Just time to get a (probably) last blog entry in before things get hectic again.

We’ll be up at five again tomorrow, to hit the road by six, to board the flight to Frankfurt around 8:30. Quite a wait in Frankfurt, which is good, because ticketing arrangements have meant that we have to arrive and re-check our luggage there, for the flight(s) back to Brisbane (on Thursday).

I’ll add some photos of Trogir, Zadar and Zagreb to this post when I have time. Possibly from an airport WiFi somewhere.

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