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Plitvice Lakes National Park

Pouring waterfalls of Plitvicka Jezera
Waterfalls on a stormy day.
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Translucent Waters
The water just barely let the light through--thus depending on depth, colors varied dramatically. Plitvice National Park in Croatia was filled with breathtaking spots like this.
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The clouds roll in
A fallen tree rests partially submerged in Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
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Even on an overcast day, Plitvice is sure to please with its meadering walkways and gorgeous scenery.
When we left Trogir it was 80 and sunny. By the time we arrived at Plitvice, via an unexpected detour off the A-1 highway that resulted in our taking the old, winding, nail-biting route over the mountains, the day had turned chilly and was steeped in fog.
We fortified ourselves with lunch and hot tea at Lička Kuća before heading out to the trails. Once we oriented ourselves and chose our route, an 8 hour trek covering nearly all the main trails, we were delighted to discover that even without the sun, the lakes and pools were beautiful shades of emerald, cobalt, and sapphire. The cascading waterfalls, tittering small streams, and the burbling of calmer water created a backdrop of sound that was truly unique, and best captured by video. The trails through the park consisted of natural wooden walkways and dirt paths that meandered along lakes, ponds, streams, and bog areas. At times, the walkways became crowded and we had to dodge and skip around clusters of slow moving people. We skipped a small portion of the walking trail for the sedate, but lovely, ferry ride across the lake, where we were content to rest a bit and gaze at the passing shoreline. After finishing our hike and taking a bus back to the parking area, we headed back to Trogir using the faster and more direct route. On the way, we stopped at Šibenik for dinner at Pelegrini where we sat outside and toasted to the incredible start of our vacation!

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Croatia's Unspoiled Beauty
At the end of our one-month summer vacation through Europe, we had had enough of the heat and crowds of touristy cities. We longed for open space and fresh air. After an overnight stay at a nearby pension, my family and I finally arrived early morning at this long-awaited, breathtaking wonder of nature.

The photos on the travel websites were real! The lakes are a stunning palette of emerald, turquoise and azure blue. Crystal clear waters show off the abundance of trout. The waterfalls, of varying heights, surprise you around the bend, and flow nonstop as if the turn-off valve had broken. Close your eyes and hear the gurgling. Butterflies with velvet blue wings flutter by. Ducks float quietly over the trout. Limestone provides a nice contrast in color and texture to moss and algae.

We easily explored the connection of lakes by shuttle bus, ferry and boardwalks. These walkways allowed us to traverse the lakes, while in other areas, protect plants from foot traffic. Plitvice Lakes National Park, the largest in Croatia, has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. Though it has attracted many tourists over the years, it is excellently maintained -- no trash lying around, swimming and fishing are forbidden, no cars allowed inside.

We have been back in California for a few weeks now. Of the 8,000 photos we took on our trip, only one has been framed and sits in a prominent spot in our living room. With a glimpse of the blue-green water, I smile at the memory.
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Swimming in Korana River (Plitvice Lakes)
After or before your walk in the wonderful Plitvice Lakes you must swim in the Korana River. Some accommodation gives you the opportunity of a "private" spot but if you aren´t in one of those you can swim in some public areas. Don´t miss it!
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