Zagreb/Plitvice Lakes/Zadar, Croatia

I seem to have entered a land where internet cafes are few and far between. Namely, Croatia.

I spent one night in Zagreb, which seemed like an okay city. Nothing particularly special. There’s a lot of grand, Austrian-looking architecture and boulevards, most likely from when this was all part of Austria-Hungary. There’s a neat little tower you can climb up on the hill overlooking the city for some good views. It’s got this cool stairway that’s half-inside, half-outside the tower, and a cannon that they shoot off every day at noon.

The next night I spent at Plitcička Jezera (Plitvice Lakes) National Park, which is on the way from Zagreb to the coast. My Dad actually suggested that I go there, having seen it on a nature program. It’s another of these UNESCO World Heritage sites, and it was awesome. UNESCO really knows what they’re doing. The Plitvice Lakes are a chain of lakes running through this limestone gorge, connected by a series of waterfalls. Actually more like hundreds and hundreds of waterfalls. There are waterfalls everywhere. Every piece of rock seems to have water pouring off it. It’s really incredible. The lakes, too, have this amazing light blue-tourquoise-green color gradient depending on depth, and are extremely clear. You can see fish clearly all over the place. It’s gorgeous. The trees were just barely starting to bloom, too (there was still snow in patches here and there), so I imagine in a couple months the place will be even prettier. I took tons of pictures. I might have to do some color-correction; I doubt my little HP camera’s ability to capture what this place actually looked like.

The waterfalls are formed through a process where water running through limestone gets mixed up somehow by algae which eventually turns into these Travertine (marble) barriers, which form lakes. I wasnt too clear on the chemistry (I want to watch my Dad’s nature program now), but it further proved that limestone is really incredible. The whole area is pockmarked by these circular depressions, which are sinkholes- collapsed caves. There are caves all over.

There are also these little wooden walkways snaking around the lakes and often directly over and through the waterfalls, which was pretty cool. And enormous tour groups of old people dutifully following single file along the walkways, complaining about getting wet. They all insisted on using umbrellas despite the fact that the mist was coming from all directions at once (and mostly not down). Being a nerd, I kept thinking it would make a cool level for a video game, running around lakes and waterfalls on wooden paths avoiding old people. It’s not even the high season yet, and already it was swamped with tourists. I’d hate to see it in August. There’s limited housing in the area too. Croatia only has 5 hostels. So I had to stay in one of the 3 hotels, which was like a 1950s modern architect’s nightmare. It was awesome.

Then the next day I took the bus down to Zadar, on the coast. It’s a typical Mediterranian city. Felt very Italian, which I suppose makes sense because all of Dalmatia was Venitian back in the day. There are Roman ruins all over the old town, and this cool church from the 8th century, which is one of only 3 circular christian churches in the world. The whole town seems to be some kind of ruin. Actually, most of Croatia seems to be in some state of either dilapidation or construction. Everything’s either brand new, or missing a roof (or both).

I’m now in an internet cafe in Split run by this little old lady, who is playing Sugar Magnolia by the Grateful Dead on the radio currently. More on Split later.

BEARD UPDATE: I seem to have reached a particularly itchy stage that I’m not too fond of. Hopefully this will pass. Do you shampoo your beard? Is that how it works? Or do you just wash it like you wash your face? Please advise.

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7 Comments!


  1. Tobin O'Donnell
    Apr 26th, 2005at5:34 am

    A few words from a bearded cousin:

    The itchy phase of beard growth is a common roadblock to a truly enjoyable bearded experience. Many a beard has been lopped off before reaching maturity because of the “itchiness”. the only other condition as detremental to beard production as “itchiness” is “scratchiness”. This condition is usually pointed out by a female and often is accompanied by drastic ultimatums in which the fledgeling beard is ordered to be shorn.
    Luckily, the Itchy & Scratchy dilemma can be treated simultaneously. Common soap will leave you face dry and your facial hair prickly – hence itchy and scratchy. So the answer is conditioner – be it skin conditioner or hair conditioner any product that keeps moisture in both the skin and the beard will be helpful in eradicating these roadblocks to beard-health and facial hair enjoyment.

    The towns “Split” and “Bled” are so ripe for humor. You should provide us all with a list of town names that double as simple verbs.

    Don’t fall down a sink hole.
    cousin Tobin

  2. Apr 26th, 2005at3:51 pm

    Yuck! Why are you growing a beard? Don’t give me any of that “it’s easier” crap. It’s not THAT hard to shave every couple of days. Yeesh.

    But I’m glad you’re having fun!

    -Cam

  3. Ian
    Apr 26th, 2005at5:56 pm

    Jeez, I go away for a few days and things go to hell…a beard?? Are you gelling it? (perhaps more hip-ly “are you gellin’ like a felon?)
    For some reason I think you’d look pretty creepy with a beard, then again, looking creepy might be good when traveling in creepy places like Zagreb and Zadar. i hope you are traveling armed. You should get one of those canes with a concealed sword. Then you could wear dark glasses (pretend you are blind) and kick people’s asses who try to jump you. I can see the front pages of the European papers – “Blind, Bearded Terrorist Strikes Again!”
    That would be sweet. By the way, did you hear that Tattoo from Fantasy Island is on the terrorist watch list? No shit. I saw his photo in the Times the other day. I thoguht his midget-ass was dead, turns out he’s been kickin it OBL posse-style in Tora Bora (those caves are just the right height for him). Anyways, be on the lookout, if you see a latino midget with his eyes to the sky saying, “Da plane! Da plane!” head the other way and stay away from tall buildings.
    That’s all I got.

  4. taylor
    Apr 26th, 2005at9:05 pm

    I guess the beard idea isnt being universally accepted. There were certain parties back home who were very much pro-beard. Formost among them was me, who hates shaving with a straight-edge razor. The whole concept is very much up for debate, however, and important constituencies, like the eastern europeans, have not yet fully weighed in.

  5. red Sarah
    May 11th, 2005at8:36 am

    Taylor. Don’t you listen to them. Beards are sexy. Please photograph extensively. Also, listen to your cousin, because it sounds like the man knows. Eastern Euro ladies and redheads love the well-conditioned beards. Trust me.

  6. arnie
    May 13th, 2005at4:59 pm

    It sounds like you are having a real good time over there in Eastern Europe. But you must watch out for the Heroin Hustlers. They are everywhere. Like if you are sitting in an internet cafe and suddenly, you feel a pin prick in your leg or buttocks, you might think it’s just a mosquito, but it really is one of those hustlers trying to get you hooked on horse. Then they can control you and take all your money and you won’t be able to get back home again and you will find yourself begging on the street in a foreign language that no one can understand because you are slurring your words from so much heroin…But I don’t want to scare you. Have a nice day.
    Your Friend, Arnie

  7. arnie
    May 13th, 2005at4:59 pm

    It sounds like you are having a real good time over there in Eastern Europe. But you must watch out for the Heroin Hustlers. They are everywhere. Like if you are sitting in an internet cafe and suddenly, you feel a pin prick in your leg or buttocks, you might think it’s just a mosquito, but it really is one of those hustlers trying to get you hooked on horse. Then they can control you and take all your money and you won’t be able to get back home again and you will find yourself begging on the street in a foreign language that no one can understand because you are slurring your words from so much heroin…But I don’t want to scare you. Have a nice day.
    Your Friend, Arnie

 

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