Continuing our push north

Wake up call at 6:15 … bags out by 7:15 … take off time 7:45. One of the reasons for the early start was to check out the markets before heading out of town. The fish market is located in town by the natural sulphur spring where flies will not bother the fish, and the produce market is a few blocks away, nearer the water. It was fun to be there when the city center was quiet and the markets were just getting set up.

Remember Diocletian? Well, on the way out of town we passed a viaduct he built 1,700 years ago to supply water to his palace. It is still in use amazingly. We did a lot of driving today taking us away from the coast to the other side of the mountains where the climate is ‘continental.’ There are spring rains and snow in the winter, forests smothering the ever present mountains, farms, grass cemeteries (on the coastal side they are concrete), and small roadside stands selling honey and cheese. We saw livestock (cows and sheep) and were told that each year there is more as the land mines from the Homeland War of the early 1990s are cleared away.

Unexpected things we passed include the town where the first torpedo was made; the town where the LaGuardias (as in the NYC airport) originated; the first public beach (1880) that flew a white flag when women were allowed to bathe and a red flag when it was the men’s turn; a river that boasts the introduction of California trout; and a brown bear cub rehabilitation center that raises orphans to be repatriated to the forests nearby.

The highlight for today was Plitvicka Lakes National Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 90% that is virgin forest is closed to all but scientists, so we enjoyed the part that is open to the public. The main attraction is a series of 16 naturally terraced lakes …12 upper lakes and four lower lakes… connected by small water falls. We hiked the four lower lakes which are just magnificent! The water is Tiffany blue in spots and as clear as glass in other spots. The limestone from the surrounding mountains that dissolves, if you will, all the time leaves a white silt of sorts on everything that falls into the water. This area has only 11 cloudless days a year here leaving it lush and ideal for unexpected plants like its 55 species of orchids.

One of those 11 cloudless days was predicted today with a high near 100 degrees, if you can imagine. We all dressed as best we could for it and starting hydrating for the two hour walk as soon as we got on the bus. Well, well, well, the joke (and a good one) was on us since clouds moved in and it was no where near 100.

We drove west across the mountain back to the coast for the night. Destination: Opatija, a city of 12,000 developed in the 19th century. Just before arriving we stopped at the 45th parallel which is exactly half way between the the north and south poles. Dan insisted on having his picture taken straddling the line.

Three fun facts before you doze off. 1) We asked why most of the buildings on the heavily wooded side of the mountain were not made of wood. We saw, after all, two huge lumber yards. Jasmina explained that Croats build with future generations in mind and brick covered in stucco is far more practical in the long run than wood. 2) Hunting is allowed but only by certified hunters who are licensed, join hunting associations, and have routine psychiatric sessions with a professional. No one else is allowed to own a gun. 3) Diocletian had a vomitorium near his dining hall where he would go to stick a feather down his throat, toss his cookies, and go back to the dining area.


One thought on “Continuing our push north

  1. The National Park sounds cool!

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