22 June 2012

Plitvice National Park

No running this morning. We didn't have time for a full run, so C & I just did some cross training. We had to be ready for a 6.30 breakfast of cured meats, cheese, eggs, cereal, bread, coffee-so-thick-your-spoon-stands-up, orange juice, and ladyfingers.  Yum!

The early breakfast came on account of our wish to get to Plitvice National Park before the crowds.  Plitvice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it features over a dozen lakes interconnected by a series of waterfalls.  The lakes are set in a gorge, the water is super-blue and crystal clear (you can count the trout!), and the whole series of lakes is ringed with walking trails. The largest lake has a series of boats that crisscross it, and there's a tram (that reminds me of the San Diego Zoo tram) that runs back and forth between a few of the resting areas. We wanted to get to the park early to avoid the crowds, and our 7.20 arrival time was perfect. As we were getting out of the car, a busload of elderly Americans was also getting disembarking. Fortunately, our legs are faster, so we were able to hit the trail quickly and get ahead of the Wisconsinites.

We spent the day wandering the park, climbing paths to up waterfalls, wishing we could swim the water, resting our weary legs on benches, and taking lots of photos. The weather cooperated - the temperature felt in the mid-to-high 70s, and the sun spent half of the day hidden behind cloud cover. Like most visitors to the parks, we started at the lower lakes and walked up (the views are better, as the waterfalls are generally in front of you). On the way up the lake, I used my wide angle lens and took a bunch of photos (including some shots that I photoshopped into HDR composites).  Here are a few:

Yes, those are really fish.

At the top of the falls... which you can't see...

Long shutter speeds == more drama.

At the top lake, we stopped for lunch. S & E both had cheeseburgers, which were super-greasy and tasted like fried spam. The 'cheese' part of the cheeseburger was a kraft single that the staff didn't even bother unwrapping before tossing it onto the plate. C & I fared significantly better: we had sausages (with spicy mustard) and Ozujsko beer, one of the Croatian national brews. It's a tasty lager and goes well with sausage (and, as I've discovered, fish, pizza, squid, octopus, salad, and meat pies).

At lunch, I swapped out lenses to my LensBaby Muse, which adds a nice optical blur to the images. They're much less refined, much more mysterious. Anyhow, here are some shots from the walk back to the car.

After the park, we returned to the house for a bit of a siesta and downtime. I caught up on some emails (but not the big ones that require a lot of reading) and did some photo processing before dinner.

Dinner was at the pension and was exceptional. We started out with some plum brandy. Then a salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and two kinds of cabbage. A chicken noodle soup. A platter of food including roast chicken, chicken skewers, grilled veal, two kinds of sausages, grilled trout, sauteed escarole, roast potatoes, steamed veggies, and braised mushrooms. More plum brandy. A cherry/raisin cake for dessert. More plum brandy.  Yum!

Tomorrow we're up early again.  We want to hit the road to get to Motovun in time to spend the day there.  So far, this Croatia trip has been super-successful - only two more full days here before we go our separate ways!

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