Monday, September 9, 2013
Krka National Park to Zagreb

We left Sobe Carija just after the 10:00 checkout time, regrettably, right behind everyone else who was trying to leave the island. It took an hour to go approximately 2 kilometers to the mainland. What a cluster. We loved this soba, but we wouldn't stay there again because it was just too hard to get off Ciovo Island. Just before we left, I picked a big bunch of grapes that were growing outside our room. They were seeded but delicious, the best grapes ever!

I haven't told Tom this because I'm afraid it will make him nervous, but there's a minimum 250 euro charge if we lose the rental car key we were issued, plus the obvious inconvenience of having to get our only car key replaced mid-trip.

Before our trip, we'd read a lot about Plitvice and Krka National Parks, and I wondered in our limited time if it was worthwhile to visit both, but since there's no such thing as too many waterfalls, we decided to go for it.

Just after noon, after stopping for directions twice, we made it to the Lozovac entrance of Krka National Park. We paid our entrance fee and boarded a bus that took us 10 minutes down a curvy road to the bottom of the hill where we followed a boardwalk trail winding through lush vegetation and past multiple cascades. It was nice, we thought, but no Plitvice. We stopped along the way and had a picnic.

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Lovebirds

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Lovebirds

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Krka National Park, Croatia

Then we got to Skradinski buk waterfall, a big waterfall with a swimming area, and THAT was FUN, especially on this warm day. Nice. In general, I found Plitvice more striking, but I love that at Krka we could actually get in the water and play. A lot of the smaller cascades and water holes here at Krka were dry. I'm sure it's more spectacular in the rainy season, but then it might be too cold to get in the water.

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Skradinski buk

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Cascades of Krka

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Jana loving life

At Skradinski buk we saw remnants of the former Krka Hydropower Plant that began operations in 1895, just two days after the first hydroelectric plant in the world went online at Niagara Falls.

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Pathside peddler

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Photographing the photographer

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Colorful cascades

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Krka River

Leaving Krka, we took the D8 north as far as Zadar before we finally had to leave the coast for good. Turning east, we happened upon a very striking area at Stari Most Maslenica, a very cool red, arched bridge with awesome views.

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Stari Most Maslenica

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Novigradsko More Bay

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Velebitski Channel

At Maslenica we got on the A1, passed immediately through a tunnel, and then the landscape changed abruptly, and the weather changed dramatically for the worse. It was my turn to drive when we got on the A1, since driving a stick on the expressway is easy, and I ended up driving through a huge rainstorm. It was completely nerve-wracking. I could hardly see in the rain and dark, and as we got closer to Zagreb, the traffic started getting heavy.

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Sveti Rok Tunnel through the Velebit Mountains

After a couple of hours, just before the end of the toll road, I turned the driving back over to Tom. The rain had died down, but it was pitch black, and the traffic was crazy with the multi-lane roundabouts, one-way streets, trolleys, and bus-only lanes, but we made it to our accommodation with just a couple of wrong turns.

At 8:30 we gratefully arrived at Rooms Madison, located right in the thick of things in Croatia's capital city of Zagreb, population 800,000. We thought we were going to be staying on the outskirts of town. Wrong. The hotel was a couple of miles from the Old Town but still in the heart of the city. There's a tiny parking lot adjacent to the building that they share with a pizza place next door.

There's something very '70s/artsy/hipster/European about this place. I like it! I'm not so sure about Tom. He's probably still too rattled by the drive to tell. Downstairs, also a part of the Madison “In” is a bar and coffee shop, deserted when we got there except for the woman who checked us in. Tomorrow we'll meet Igor, the owner.

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Rooms Madison, Zagreb

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Our '70s room

For dinner we went next door to Royal Grill-Pizza Pegor, where we ordered a “slavonska” pizza. Translated into English, the pizza was to be topped with ham, bacon, feferoni, and kulen. “Feferoni” was pepperoni, just as you might guess, but we had no clue about “kulen” and just hoped we could pick it off if necessary. It turns out kulen is a small, pickled, hot green pepper. It was awesome. In fact, this was the best pizza of the trip, at about half the price. The food and beer in Zagreb is way better than on the coast and much cheaper. We also had some excellent beer, Velebitsko tamno pivo. Finally a beer worth mentioning! It's a dark beer, 6% alcohol, and very tasty, especially after all the “Croatian Corona” we had on the coast.

Continue to September 10, 2013

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