So, the next day, since it was my last opportunity to hit the lakes, and after finding out how boring Zagreb actually is, I was determined to get on that bus no matter what! Got up at 6am and basically ran to the bus stations I would be there on time – couldn’t risk missing the bus again.
Buying the ticket, I was told there was only one bus back to Zagreb at 6pm (I found this weird from the start), so, if it was the only one, I had no choice but to buy it and spend 10h at the National Park. Big mistake right here! But I didn’t know it then, I would only find out it was a mistake by the time I was already at the lakes. Lets just say that there are a lot of buses that go from Plitivice Lakes to Zagreb, and in the Winter the Park closes at 4pm, so you can imagine how angry I was to find out about this, because I had to buy another ticket to go back earlier and the driver even gave me the wrong chance. Sometimes being a tourist kinda sucks, trust me, I know this better than anyone.
I fell asleep on the bus and by the time I woke up I was somewhere in the middle of the mountains, and there was snow everywhere! I suddenly got the cutest smile on my face, because I can’t tell you how much I’d been wishing to get to a place covered in snow. I love it. It makes me happy, like I’m in a fairytale land, far, far away from home
I was eating my oreos (as always) and looking like a kid watching the snow when I noticed we stopped and I was suppose to get out! I grabbed my stuff and ran outside afraid the bus would leave with me still inside.
It was freezing cold outside! I was not ready for cold. In Zagreb the sky was blue and the sun was shinning, so I just figured I would take a Spring shirt and my Winter jacket. Little did I know I would end up with my nose burned because of the cold.
The hilarious moment the bus drove away and there was just me and a bunch of Korean guys in the middle of the snow trying to understand where the lakes actually were.
All I know is it was freezing cold, but I was a happy kid walking in the mountains surrounded with snow. Something like this was just what I needed that day. I needed something to make my heart race, to make me happy and remember why I was backpacking solo in the first place, and Plitivice was just that. I wanted Paradise and I got it sooner than I expected.
There’s no better feeling than getting to a new place and falling in love with it as soon as you look outside the bus. It’s that heart racing moment as you feel you are exactly where you’re suppose to be.
Walking around the park and seeing those views, I couldn’t believe I was really there. I felt like living a dream. Just a month before I was working at a restaurant, planning and dreaming of the places I was working for, and this was one of those for sure! It’s about that moment, you know? That unforgettable moment when you just feel pure joy, you’re eyes get all shinny and you notice you have this smile on your face. I believe that happiness while travelling is about the small things that you would never appreciate or even notice at home. For me, at the Plitive Lakes, it was about the snow and the clear water, seeing all that beauty in person and feeling I made it there on my own. It was a mix of being proud of myself and the fact I couldn’t believe how a place like that can exist and how l lucky I was to be able to witness something so amazing.
So I walked (and I admit I had a small embarrassing moment of happy dance) the rails, all alone in the middle of nowhere. I sat on the higher places and just enjoyed the view. I appreciated every second of that place. I watched the water falls for ages and the half frozen lake. I even embraced the cold and decided it was part of the beauty of the place, because if it wasn’t that cold it meant there was no snow, and trust me, the mountains covered in snow made the difference. It was what made this place to special to me.
So, even if my stay in Croatia wasn’t as great as I thought it would (being Zagreb my least favorite place of the ones I’ve visited), taking the trip to the Plitvice Lakes was one of the highlights of my backpacking trip around Europe and I’m so, so happy I decided to stop by Croatia simply with the excuse of being so close to it at the time. It was a day that will stay carved in my memory for the rest of my life.
The entrance at the Plitvice Lakes will cost you 55Kunas (around 7,5€) during low season, and around 10€ during high season. As for the transport to the Park, the best way to get there is by getting a bus. You have a few buses from Zagreb (a journey of 2h30) that will cost you less than 10€. Don’t buy the return ticket there. You can buy the return ticket directly inside the bus and you can get one anytime you want once you’re out of the Park.