Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hiking Plitvice Lakes

Exploring Croatian beauty continues, but this time we go off the coast and into the interior of the country. Our adventures took us to Plitvice Lakes National Park, an amazing natural wonder in the middle of Croatia. But first...a quick stop for lunch in Opatija on the Kvarner Gulf. 
Opatija
Opatija looks very different from the other places we visited. The architecture, reminiscent of Baroque through Art Nouveau periods, made this town unique from other places in Croatia we visited. We read that Opatija was a popular travel destination for the wealthy in the Hapsburg Empire and Eastern Europe in the 19th century, hence the beautiful buildings and gardens. All this talk about architecture and no pictures to show it! You'll just have to trust me that this town is pretty.  But, we do have nice pictures of the beach. We debated going swimming, but decided to get back in the car and hit the winding road to Plitivce.
Veliki Slap--Big Waterfall at Plitvice
Lower Lakes
Aerial views of the boardwalk trails
Visiting Plitvice Lakes was a unique experience. Clear, bright, green lakes, waterfalls around every corner, hidden caves, and some wildlife. The uniqueness of Plitvice comes from the calcium carbonate in the water. We learned that the calcium carbonate from the limestone creates "tavertine" or rock formations that are forever changing. The tavertine that are constantly changing and taking shape create barriers between the various lakes that help create waterfalls.
Jaap and I hiked through all of the lakes and spent almost the whole day here. There's so much to see. The views were incredible on the upper lakes. (Not to mention, getting away from tourists is always nice). This was a memorable day. We learned a lot about the diversity of Croatia. There's so much more beauty to this country than just the coast!

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