воскресенье, 25 сентября 2016 г.

On wandering in the dark and on envy (Split, 9.08.16)

Our bus arrived at Split main bus station at around 9:45 p.m. The sun has already set, leaving us only the next day for city exploration. However, the first hour in the largest city of Dalmatia managed to find a lodgment in my memory.

Autobusni kolodvor of Split is located near the coast, therefore you can start your acquaintance with the second largest city of Croatia by strolling along the shore, looking at the port and passing by numerous souvenir shops and bakeries which still work despite the lateness of the hour. Although Split is 8 times smaller than Zagreb and has 4.5 times smaller population, you will not believe in it from the very first minute there. Even in the evening you will meet lots of people outdoors. Streets seem to be wider than in the capital, and the traffic looks heavier. We had to walk for around 3 kilometers to reach the hotel, "Rooms dr. Franjo Tuđman".

It took us around half an hour to get to the desired place but when we were almost going to check in and to finally have a rest after a long day, we didn't find the hotel at the place where it was supposed to be. There was some university instead. In contrast to the center of the city, this area was dark and deserted. In addition, it was far from flat. Climbing the stairs with luggage is not a great experience especially when you're not sure what exactly you are searching. After trying several doors and making a full circle around the building with the proper address, we decided that it's time to call the hotel hoping that they can explain how to find them. I was dialing the phone number, and suddenly somebody yelled at us: "Hey, do you need help?" How I love such moments! The same happened to me before several times, namely in Jyväskylä and in Helsinki two years ago. I was staring at the map when people passing by offered their help voluntarily. This time luck was on our side: two young frenchmen were staying at the same place and gently accompanied us to the reception. Unexpectedly, "Rooms dr. Franjo Tuđman" turned out to be a dormitory. However, this was a reason not to turn upset but to envy local students.

To begin with, the reception is a vast hall with a bunch of tables, large TV and a perfect view at the student basketball court located immediately to the window... on the roof. If you don't study the building from outside, you'll be surprised: the reception is next to the entrance, so how the roof may be on the same level as the ground floor? The answer is evident once you learn that the dormitory is located on the slope of a hill, you entered the 1st floor, and some other entrances are at the floor number -2! This Google Street View 360° panoram will help you to understand why it was tricky to find the entrance in the dark. And this is how the rooms look inside. Awesome design which combines elegance and convenience. And if the photo didn't convince you, I will just add that we found more than ten electric outlets in the room of a dormitory. Fairly cheap, located not far away from the city center but in a quiet place, this dormitory was the best accomodation of the entire journey.

среда, 7 сентября 2016 г.

In the realm of lakes and waterfalls (Plitvice Lakes National Park, 9.08.16)

That journey itinerary was perfectly balanced. After the day spent strolling along the streets of a calm Zagreb, on Tuesday we visited the true miracle of nature, Plitvice Lakes National Park. Ancient Diocletian Palace of Split was ahead with its antique ruins and various museums, as well as medieval Dubrovnik.    

Our bus to Plitvice Lakes was departing from Zagreb at 8 a.m. As a replacement for a morning warm-up, we went there on foot. Believe me, after 4.5 kilometers of walking with luggage, you will be ready for a new active day. Besides joking, getting there on foot was our last chance to look at Zagreb. In addition, it is less nervous way to get to Autobusni kolodvor (Main bus station) compared to waiting for local buses which may not run on time.

An hour and a half later, we arrived at the entrance of the park. Before entering, you have to get your ticket and to leave luggage. You can buy tickets either on the spot or online. When I was preparing to the journey, I came across opposite opinions on the question which option to choose. In any case, you'll have to stand in the queue: either to buy a ticket or to exchange your electronic ticket for a normal one. Fortunately, I didn't believe those people, who wrote that in both cases you would have to spend a lot of time waiting, and bought electronic tickets. Instead of wasting half an hour for nothing, we got our entrance tickets almost immediately. The second part of the quest was no harder: take the key at the tourist information office, walk for a couple of minutes to a small wooden building staying aside, open the door, notice dozens of bags left unattended, leave your ones next to them, close the door and return the key. I guess, it was a bit risky to leave my laptop in such a place, but I wasn't happy about the alternative, i.e. about carrying it all the way through the park.

No need to rush straight to the lakes: that splendour waited for you for millenia, it will give you a couple of minutes more. It's time to become attentive: don't overlook that amazing advice.
Once entered the park, you will see the map showing suggested routes. We had around 8 hours before the bus to Split, so we chose the second longest option, route C taking 4-6 hours.

This park is a place where you can close your eyes, take a photo and be sure that it is beautiful. Stunning waterfalls and calm cascade lakes, crystal water and gigantic trees reflected in it are everywhere. Crowds of tourists make passing through the bridges and walking along the narrow paths slow but nobody complains: you will never want to hurry here.
Can't avoid sharing a random thought that crossed my mind at some point: if I was a dinosaur, that'd be a perfect place to live. Immense forests to hide from carnivores, relaxing sounds of falling water to sleep to, spectacular landscapes to admire. Well, I should have said "a dinosaur with highly developed sense of beauty"...
If there is something bad about Plitvice Lakes, this is how the transportation between walking parts of the routes is organized. The ferry line has such low bandwidth that it took us around an hour to get on board. Still, we can say we were lucky because while we were waiting, the queue became two times longer. Although most part of the routes in the park are shadowed by the trees, the pier lies in the hot sun. Even a good portion of ice cream from a souvenir shop nearby will not make standing heat easier for you.
Another kind of transport you can take there is so-called "train". Actually, this is a three-car bus. We didn't have to wait that long for the "train" but there was nothing exciting about the ride as it was going along boring places. We even alighted before the last stop in order to make our route several kilometers longer and to enjoy the views for some more time. On the way back to the entrance we barely met a soul.

Finally, we came back to the place where we arrived in the morning. Having a lot of spare time, we visited Veliki Slap (the Giant Waterfall) for the second time. Nothing had changed: streams of water were still running down, crowds of tourists wishing to be pictured in front of the waterfall were still here.

Three hours and a half of another bus ride, or, better to say, three hours and a half of an engaging conversation, and we arrived in Split. The impressions were not over for that evening but this is a story for another time.

P.S. Unfortunately, I'll have to skip the nearest post (planned for 10.09.16), thus lagging four posts behind the goal. Hence, I promise to publish four mid-week stories in the remaining three months.