Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Caribbean of Europe - Day 5




Krka Waterfalls

Trogir                                                                                     Croatia

Wednesday 26th August 2015

I was up reasonably early because I was going on my excursion to Krka national park and waterfalls. I was really looking forward to this because of the mess up I had yesterday but none of that mattered now as I was finally going to see the national park; so I got changed and left at about 7:45am. I soon arrived at the northern bridge and across to grab something for breakfast. Instead of the usual strudel, I asked for a sausage roll looking pastry but without the sausage, just jam. I wolfed it down like there was no tomorrow as I sat at the corner of the bridge and the gateway into Trogir. I sat and waited whilst watching on at my watch and it was 8:15am which was the time the driver would show up. However, another 10 minutes went by and no one showed up. I was getting a horrible feeling that no one would come. I was proved wrong though when a white taxi van pulled up next to me and the driver called me over asking if I was going to Krka. A whole sense of relief came to me knowing I was in the right van and on my way to the beautiful national park.

I hopped into the front getting freaked out about not having the steering wheel in front of me as we went around to the south of Trogir picking up a few more passengers; a couple were foreign and the others were English. As soon as everyone was buckled up, we were on our way. I started to get excited and it felt great being driven around for once. I thought we were on our way to Krka straight away but the driver made a turn into a hotel parking area to pick up the remaining 3 passengers. The driver opened my door and kindly asked if I could sit in the back as the passengers coming on were a family. So I grabbed my bag and jumped into the back with the other English passengers. There was a bit of awkward silence so I stuck my headphones in and looked out of the window.

We set off again heading straight for Krka national park. I could make out the route the driver was taken which was up one of the large hills near Trogir. I was looking forward to see the views as we gained a lot of height. I could see a large horizon of islands and the sea looking glorious as we were climbing zig zag roads up the hill. To my surprise, the driver pulled over to the spectacular view of Trogir far in the distance below us. I could see Split miles away too and a large section of Ciovo island. Not to mention all the islands in the horizon with the glorious sun beaming onto the sea and the rooftops of the buildings in the distance; truly breathtaking I thought as we all got back into the van and got under way again.

Croatian Horizon

From here on there was no hustle and bustle of town and city life, just open countryside with the odd villages in between; it was at this moment I had a big smile on my face. The surrounding hills were covered in dry looking trees with the odd cactus and other exotic plants. It looked like the whole area hadn’t seen rain for months. There were points where the road sides were surrounded by bushes and trees not showing a great deal of views but there was a moment I looked like a kid when they first witness Santa Claus. I fallen witness to a very large and wide valley with hills as far as the eye could see which was fantastic. We drove for what seemed an hour and then the landscape began to change into steep rocky cliffs and looking more wet as well as the plants became a lot greener. I could see we were nearing the national park when the driver turned a corner and we were looking at a very large river looking greener than the blue sea I was used too the past few days; I still thought it blended in well with the scenery too.

Croatian Scenery

We were finally approaching our stop at a place called Skradin and from what I could see it looked like a picturesque place with a small bay surrounded by dense river plants and rocky hills. I was even more excited when we finally stopped and made our way to the boats. We all followed the driver down the road towards the towns harbour area but just before we got there, the driver rushed off into the office to pick up our tickets. Whilst doing so, there was a bakery just behind me so I quickly grabbed a cherry strudel just to keep me going. He returned and gave me my ticket for the boat trip and to get into the waterfall area of the national park. We made our way to the harbour where we all had to join a long queue for the ferry to the waterfalls. He gave us a guide map of the waterfall area which was quite handy and then just before we were about to step onto the pier, he then said that we had to be back by 3pm so we had a good 5 hours to explore the land.

Skradin Harbour

As he left, the queue for the ferries began to move faster and then it was my turn to step aboard a very beautiful old style wooden ship. I was amongst the last to get on as usual and I headed up to the top deck to see if there were any seats. All the seats were taken of course but there was a large wooden box nobody was sitting on so I grabbed it. The ship began to move leaving the town behind heading for the waterfalls. I didn’t like where I was sitting though so I left and headed down the steep steps to the lower deck. I could see a huge bit of space at the front starboard side of the vessel so I sat on the raised bit of hull. I was a lot happier as I felt free plus I had a better view; speaking of which it was incredible. We were moving up a large river with large steep hills on each side of us covered in trees. Yet again I had a big smile on my face enjoying myself.

Starboard Views of Krka

We were approaching a low bridge and as we got closer I could see a couple of kids standing on the edge of the bridge looking down at the water. I watched on knowing what they were going to do and all of a sudden, they jumped feet first into the water creating a large splash. It was quite impressive I thought as we passed under the bridge heading for a winding river. The views were just mesmerising and I fell in love with the place. I could see in the far distance part of a waterfall and I knew we were nearing our destination. As was expected I could see the pier for the ship to moor up and no surprise, the vessel slowed down. It was actually nice not hearing the engine running but only the sound of the calm water hitting the vessel which sounded quite peaceful.

Approaching Mooring Area
Beautiful Ferry

We eventually moored up and clambered to get off the ship. As soon as I stepped off, I consulted my map to figure out where we moored up but still didn’t understand where we were. So I did plan B; follow everybody else until thankfully, there was a large map with a red dot stating where I was. I was at the top left corner of the map so knowing where I was I knew how to get back to the ship. I walked down a large footpath like everybody else and got stopped in my tracks by staff who was asking for my ticket. I grabbed it from my bag and continued on my way after they ripped a part of it off. As I continued walking, I heard the sound of the waterfalls and the crowds of people. I had arrived at the main attraction of the waterfalls. They were truly remarkable and quite monstrous. The large pool in front of the waterfalls was filled with people swimming around enjoying the water and I was looking forward to get in but I wanted to explore the surrounding area first; so I took a walk along the low wooden bridge spanning across the river and the swimmers below. I was constantly admiring the waterfalls until I reached the other side of the long bridge.

Krka Waterfalls

I was welcomed by a steep stairway up along the side of the waterfalls with merchants selling fruit along the way. I arrived at the section above the lower waterfall and I was amazed by the colour of the water and how clear it was too; it looked amazing flowing down the steep drops. I continued on my route heading upwards until I came up to more steep steps and a rugged winding road going between them. So I climbed and climbed until I arrived at an open flat area with more marvellous views of the next section of waterfalls. There was also a drinking fountain too so I filled my water bottle up and headed along to an area with a few small buildings. When I got nearer, I could see a blacksmith area with a young man fanning an open fire using the very old technique of a fan pump. Then I watched as he took a piece of metal out of the fire and started to hammer it. I didn’t stay long enough to see what it was going to be as I continued on my route.

Krka Waterfalls

Everything from then on became picturesque with small rivers flowing under small stone bridges and as I looked into the clear river, I could see a lot of fish swimming around. I then took a left turn just before the bus station and began to walk along a boardwalk passing over networks of small rivers and streams. It felt like I was out in the wilderness walking along the boardwalks and it felt amazing. I continued on admiring the marvellous scenery passing by a lot of fish again and there were times I would come across large pools which looked really blue making it extremely beautiful. I then came across a fenced off edge overlooking the large waterfalls below with a lot of people swimming. I was still quite high up at this point and then I came up to the stairs heading back down towards the crowds of people. Just before I reached the very bottom, I came across a small cave within the rock face but it didn’t seem like much of a big deal so I carried on back down until I had reached the crowd. 

River System

It was time I took a swim in the waterfalls so I headed to the toilets and got changed. This time I was more reluctant about leaving my bag unattended as I would have to leave behind my wallet and phone. I took the risk though as I walked back to the waters edge and placed my bag where I could see it even if I was at the other end of the river close to the waterfalls. I was excited to get in and experience the flow of the water. As I got in, I noticed there were a lot of raised rock platforms under the water which were quite slippy so I took my time slowly crawling on my backside to get to the deeper part. A bit of time passed feeling my way over to the deep part until I couldn’t feel the rocks on my feet. This meant I had freedom to move around. So I began to swim; mostly doggy paddling towards the large waterfalls. As I got closer I could see a rope and buoys stretching across the pool so I headed for that. I managed to grab onto it and let the buoys keep me floating. I was watching my bag now and again making sure nobody would touch it. Nobody did thankfully so I turned around looking at the large waterfall right in front of me. I could feel the flow of the water rushing underneath me which was actually helping me stay upright as I was still holding onto the rope.

Krka Waterfalls

I looked at my watch to check the time and I was shocked to see the dial at the side of my watch had gone. My watch was broken and I was unhappy about it as my watch had been everywhere with me. I headed back towards the shallower area of the river and then I crossed under the bridge to the other side for a bit of a swim around there. This was the area I thought the flow of the water was at its strongest as I found it a bit hard to swim back to the other side of the low bridge. I managed though and I got out of the water feeling recharged not saying the same for my watch as I returned to my bag.

Krka River

I left the area and walked towards the grassy area in front of the river where there were a lot of people sunbathing. I thought it would be a good idea to join them just to help dry my pants off. It was amazing just relaxing for a moment drying off and listening to the sound of the water and people laughing and talking until I checked my phone for the time. I could see I had one and a half hours left so I picked myself up, flung my bag over my shoulders and decided to have another walk around the surrounding area just to make up time. The second time around was as good as the first as I took a lot more time admiring the area knowing it was my last time viewing these scenes of beauty. I was amazed when I had seen a few colourful dragonflies whizzing around the water and plants. A long time had passed until I returned back down to the lower river.

Krka National Park
Krka National Park

By this point the crowds became larger and it looked as though the river was completely full of people; not to mention the bridge spanning the river. I sat for a while and rested before finally taking my leave back towards the boats. When I arrived, I joined a long queue to get aboard. I was on a different vessel and as I climbed aboard, I didn’t try to find a seat so I stood at the starboard side again which I thought had an even greater view. In no time at all the boat had left the pier heading back to Skradin. I was stood at the shady side of the boat so all I had on me was a nice calm wind against my face admiring the picturesque views again. Along the way I noticed a dragonfly keeping up with the boat which looked great until it decided to veer off into the dense plants. A long time had passed until we were passing under the low bridge heading into the small town. As we slowly approached the town, I couldn’t get over how pretty it looked as it had a small fort at the top of the hill flying the Croatian flag. 

Return to Skradin

Return to Skradin

We finally slowed right down and then moored up back at where I started. I could see that I still had a bit of time to spare so I took a small walk around Skradin stopping off inside a church admiring its architecture. It was time to head back to where the driver asked us all to rendezvous though. I took a seat in the shade to cool me off for 5 minutes and then I could see the driver in the distance with all the passengers. I quickly grabbed my bag and rushed over meeting up with them all. We were making our way back to the van when I eventually got talking to the English passengers asking if they had fun at the waterfalls. We continued talking about past travels and future trips as we set off to a surprising trip to Sibenik.

Krka Waterfalls

A long time had passed until we eventually arrived in Sibenik. The driver had stopped along the coastline and told us all we only had 30 minutes in Sibenik before returning to the van. So without wasting any time I made haste for the main areas. One of the main areas close to me was the cathedral of St James. It looked quite spectacular standing above the other buildings; I wanted to go in so I headed for the main doors only to head straight out as they were charging people to enter. So I walked alongside the church passing a small square and up a slight incline just behind the church. I had seen signs saying castle so I was going to head up there. I had to turn around though as I ran out of time. I headed back to the meeting point and I could see the English couple lying on the grass. We had a bit of a chat and a laugh before we were summoned onto the van.

Sibenik
Sibenik

Off we went heading along the coastal route this time instead of going through the Croatian valleys. I was won over by the most incredible views of the coast and tiny beaches dotted along the way. The sea was vibrant with different colours of blue with small boats anchored down within areas; it was brilliant and I loved it. 

Small Bays to Primosten
Small Bays to Primosten

Further on down the coast, the driver took a right turn heading for a town called Primosten. I had totally forgotten we were going to this town so I was looking forward to visiting it. Yet again, the driver stated that we only had 30 minutes so as soon as we got out the van I rushed off towards the small town. This town was another pretty little area set on a hill which was pretty much surrounded by the sea besides a small pathway. Looking at a few pictures on postcards I could see that there was a church at the very top of the hill so that was my goal. I walked at a fast pace climbing a slight incline until just ahead of me I could see the church. I continued on up and entered the churches cemetery. Blocking the thought of being in a cemetery, I was speechless with the wondrous views surrounding me. It was the usual islands far in the distance looking a slight bit misty with the large panoramic view of the beautiful blue sea. This one though had something special about it and I would have to put it as my top favourite views I’ve ever seen. I checked the time and I was running a bit late so I made haste for the van at the bottom of the hill. I returned noticing I was the last to show up sweating like mad which probably held everyone up but I didn’t care; I was on my holiday.

Views from Primosten
Views from Primosten

Once we all returned to the van, we set off straight to Trogir after dropping some passengers off. It seemed to take less time to get back and then we soon arrived at the island of Trogir. It felt great to be back from a long day but rest assured, today was a brilliant day of fun and exploration. I said my farewells to the driver and English passengers as we all parted ways. I headed straight back to my room to rest for a while thinking about what I did today. By then my stomach was rumbling so I headed out of my room for some food. I also wanted to see if I could get on any other excursions too but food came first. I headed to the harbour area again at the south and decided to pick a different restaurant called ‘La Dolce Vita’.

La Dolce Vita

Yet again I got escorted to my table and handed a menu. I chose to have a beef meat type of dish for starters and I had gone for a tuna steak too. I sat and waited for a while and as I was looking at other people with their families, I had a thought about each one of my family back home and how much I missed them. All of a sudden the waiter came with my starter and as I looked at it, I thought it was going to be horrible as it looked a bit like salami; however, it tasted absolutely delicious. I finished it all up except the green plants they put on the top or as I like to call it ‘rabbit food’. Then my main came and in front of me was a large looking tuna steak. I was expecting this to taste alright but I savoured every bite as it was a succulent piece of meat which was mouth watering.

Tuna Steak

After paying my bill I set off on a little stroll along the harbour admiring the yachts moored up and I came across a few excursion stalls and one of them stood out for me. It was an all day trip to Vis Island where the blue cave was and the green cave followed by a trip to Hvar as well as a trip to the blue lagoon area which was all starting at Trogir. The woman I spoke too showed me a video from her phone of what I was to expect and I was immediately won over when I had a big smile on my face. I wanted to book it for the next day but when she rang up to book a slot, there were no spaces available. However, there were spaces for the day after so I paid for my slot and received my voucher. I left very happy knowing I would actually get to see these gems but now my next concern was wondering what to do for the next day. I had a look at other excursion stalls but they were all doing similar trips to what I did and about to do.

I decided to head to one of the information centres and I was greeted by a young woman trying to persuade me to do excursions. I looked at the posters they had and one had stood out. It was a trip to places called Mostar and Medugorje. It looked amazing on pictures so I would imagine it would look impressive actually being there too. The price was reasonable as well so I booked it up. I was happy yet again because I didn’t want to have another day lying on the beach as much as it sounded good. I received my voucher and I was told to be at the information centre by 7:15am tomorrow. This meant I had to return to my room to get an early sleep. I walked back and finally lay on my bed thinking about the marvellous things I had seen and did during the day and also wondering what tomorrow had to bring.
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