As you can imagine, we couldn’t actually believe that we had made it (so easily) to Zagreb… a short ride in a cab with a friendly driver and we were finally proud ‘owners’ of our rental car. We were very excited to spend 10 days cruising the Croatian roads. Before leaving Zagreb, we decided to explore the city and stopped at the Art Pavilion for our first Croatian picture. It was surrounded by picturesque ocre buildings and we almost regretted not staying a night in Zagreb. Since we however live our lives without any regret, we headed west to Samobor. A lovely stroll along the river and up a steep trail through the forest, we reached the Tepec hill where the Samobor castle ruins overlooked the valley. I was surprised to see how little the castle was restaured and badly maintened. However it was a peaceful place, rewarding after our walk up on the slippery path. We enjoyed this detour, tho we probably expected less damaged ruins.
We arrived late in Poljanak, hoping to find a room for the night. We had decided to settle there for two nights. It was, according to Google, a great option to easily access the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Sun had long set when we reached Poljanak and a lovely old lady welcomed us to her guest house. She had a cute apartment available with a kitchen and a private bathroom, a perfect place to call home while in town. The cold I had caught in Budapest had gotten worse and I seemed to have shared my misfortune with Heidi. Luckily for us the weather the next day was absolutely outrageous: it rained non-stop for 8 hours which allowed us to do nothing but nap, drink tea, repeat. We couldn’t completely recover but when the following day cleared up, we were ready to conquer the Park.
Close from our village, both entrances were easily reachable. Even tho our landlord (or temporary mom who gave us tea to get better) recommended to use the entrance #1, we opted for the P3 parking as she described it as small and less crowded. We were aware that we might not be able to find a parking spot but the drive itself was nice, a thick fog gave the forest a mysterious ‘Je ne sais quoi’. We were happy to easily find a spot; Traveling off-season does have its perks. We bought our tickets that gave us access to the park, its trails, its boats and its shuttles. We jumped on an electric boat, silently making our way to P2 where we decided to follow the trail C from. Along the way, we discovered an enchanted place full of waterfalls, wooden boardwalks and tranquil lakes. There were almost no tourist on the trail we had picked. Again, there are perks to come to Plitvice off-season! We walked to S3 where a shuttle took us to S1; from there we strolled back to P3, adventurously (we had been warned: enter at your own risk) discovering a dark and slippery cave, bumping into a Swiss family and taking a million pictures of waterfalls.
We absolutely loved our autumnal exploration, the colors surrounding us were absolutely amazing. We indeed gambled with the weather and even tho, we started the day with a grey sky, the day turned out to be wonderfully beautiful. We would therefore highly recommend to go there in October to avoid the summer crowds; less tourists allows you to fully enjoy this national park. We spent only a day there but there were so many hiking trails, we could have spent a few days in the park! Next stop: Zadar!