Here I am, finally in Croatia! Honestly I probably didn't even know Croatia existed until I saw a picture of this national part, Plitvice Lakes National Park (Nacionalni Park Plitvicka Jezera) 4 years ago. Ever since I saw the picture I've been very excited at the prospect of one day going to Croatia! I arrived a day before my tour started, I got to Zagreb on Friday. On Saturday I explored Zagreb, which was a great city, until my tour picked me up at 5. Zagreb was really cute, with nice buildings, a little market and the Museum of Broken Relationships...I decided to go to this museum because it seemed interesting. I've been to historical museums and art museums so why not try this crazy sounding one! It was actually very interesting. The museum was made up of donations. People would donate their belongings that symbolized a broken relationship between partners, parents, friends, but they mostly came from divorces and break ups. The descriptions were written by the people who donated the items. They sometimes gave the entire story or a poem or just said that it symbolized a certain time in their life. The whole museum was a way for people to mourn over their loss and move on. I liked it but was exhausted afterwards and happy for the tour to come and take me on a long car ride to our village. Yes, we are staying in a small Croatian village, maybe 25 people live here and that's it! Everyone is staying in the extra rooms of people who live in the village! The village's name is Korana and I love it! There is a river that flows right through the village, just in the backyard of the house we are staying in! I can see and hear the river from our room. I got to meet everyone in our tour group at supper and it seemed like a good crowd.
On Sunday we went hiking in the national park and it was stunning! The weather was perfect, sunny, warm and blue skies! I was not disappointed, the actual waterfalls were even more stunning in real life! We hiked for hours and I never got tired of seeing the incredible color of the water in the lakes, the magnificent waterfalls, and walking along the wooden boardwalks. I started making friend with the people on my tour. One person is from France, one from Ireland, and the rest are from England. We had a great time talking while hiking and getting to know each other. When we got back from the hike a group of us walked up the river to find a small waterfall where we could swim. The water was extremely cold but it was wonderful and clear! The water here is unreal, it looks like someone took vibrant paint right out of the tube and painted the water.
Monday was a killer day. It was the cycling day. Now I love a good bike ride, I like to go on the Swamp Rabbit Trail at home and ride my bike other places but I definitely wasn't prepared for a 22 mile bike ride through Croatian mountainside villages. I literally thought I was going to keel over and die on the hills we had to bike up. There were times when a person on crutches could have been walking faster than I was biking up the hill. It was totally gorgeous when we were cruising along through the flat fields full of colorful wild flowers, just the hills were killer. Luckily at the halfway point we stopped for lunch at a park that had a cave. We were taken on a tour of the cave and it was cool, literally it was actually freezing in there! I love seeing the inside of caves, it reminded me of a smaller version of Ruby Falls, without the cave waterfall part. They even turned out the lights at one point and we couldn't see a single thing. The bike ride back to the village was even worse, more uphill than the first part but I was also much more exhausted. Towards the end we stopped at a restaurant for drinks but I got a piece of orange cake. It helped me survive the last little bit. My knees were destroyed but I jumped into the river in the village afterwards and the cool water made my knees feel better instantly! I swam around and hung out with my tour group friends!
Today we kayaked. They were nice inflatable double kayaks and I got to go with a great girl in my group. We worked well together, which made it a nice ride down the river. Unfortunately the water levels were a bit low so we had to jump off of a couple of waterfalls and pull our kayaks over instead of riding them over the rapids. I had so much fun and loved jumping off of the waterfalls even though it scared me! I knew I would regret it if I didn't do it so I tried not to think too much about it and just ran and jumped. Towards the end we rode through a music festival so that was pretty funny. Everyone was along the shore staring at us like we were crazy but I think they were the ones that looked kind of crazy. When we got back we all just chilled, it was nice. We topped off the night with a nice homemade supper. We have a cook who makes us supper every night and it is always a delicious homemade dish!