Recently we traveled to Croatia (more specifically, Zadar) for my birthday weekend. Jamie and I had wanted to go hiking in Plitvice Lakes National Park for a year or so, and we felt it would be a good time to do that. September is nice, because the weather is still fabulous in Croatia, but starting to get gross in the Netherlands, so you really feel like you’re getting away from it all, with only an hour and a half flight!
We left SUPER early on Friday morning, arriving in Zadar around 9:30am. From there, we picked up our rental car and headed out for a drive over to Plitvice Lakes, which was nearly three hours inland. We took the “scenic” route (which means we avoided the toll roads), and it was pretty much arid land with not much going on. However, once we got near the Lakes, we stopped at a restaurant for some filling Croatian lunch (meat, meat, and more meat…and on a spit, if you prefer), and then pulled into the park parking lot and got ready for our hike. We had only planned on spending a little time there on Friday, then going back on Sunday, but as we were walking around, we wound up hiking the entire park that day! We started hiking around noon, and finished up around 6pm, and had covered around 8-10 miles of gorgeous waterfalls and lakes.
This is one of the photos of the crystal clear waters in the lakes. It was absolutely amazing to walk around and look into the pools of water, and be able to see all the way to the bottom, and having no idea how deep it was! The water was really chilly, and there were signs all over telling hikers not to get into the water, so I didn’t have a chance to test the depth out for myself, but goodness, it was absolutely stunning. The water was so bright, with the sunlight overhead…breathtaking!
This is a photo of one of the (many) waterfalls that covered the entire national park. Every fifty feet or so, it felt like you happened upon another grouping of waterfalls…some small, and some several hundred feet tall. There was a constant sound of rushing water throughout the entire place, and you could hear the birds chirping and water dripping everywhere you went. It was so peaceful to just walk around, even with all the other hikers there! Jamie had a great time with his camera, though I think he wished he had brought more of his lenses with him (but, due to flying on a low-budget airline with no extra luggage, only backpacks, we had to pack light). Overall, he took some amazing photos though, which I can’t wait to frame when we move home!
After our day in Plitvice Lakes, we headed back to the resort for the night and the rest of the weekend. We ended up staying at an all-inclusive resort for families (even though we’re childless, it was a less expensive option than their sister site which was adult couples only), which was absolutely FANTASTIC!! I cannot rave enough about the Family Hotel Diadora Falkensteiner. The service was top-notch, the included food was very diverse and tasty, and the options for activities was perfect for us! We got in late on Friday evening, so we basically just checked-in and passed out in sleep, but woke up the next morning for a lovely breakfast buffet full of fresh fruits, cheeses, meats, hot foods, breads, etc. I discovered jam filled croissants, and then went a step further and stuffed them with slices of brie cheese, and I was in heaven. Fat heaven, but heaven nonetheless. Lunches were mostly soups and salads, but a great selection, then dinners were pretty extravagant on the options. Definitely no way you’d go hungry!
The resort was directly on the coast, so we also got to spend some time at the ocean (which I much prefer to pools, since the smell of chlorine has been known to give me migraines). The coast in Zadar was mainly rocky, not really soft sand beaches, but it was so beautiful, I couldn’t be bothered to care. Again, more crystal clear water…cold, but I still took a dip. Jamie and I spent an afternoon climbing the giant rocks and sunning ourselves, while taking more photos of the ocean and coastline.
Here’s a photo of me on some of the giant rocks that dotted the coastline. So much fun to climb around on and lay, listening to the ocean. Absolute perfection, in my opinion. The resort also had a few beach bars here and there, so we were able to climb around, sun ourselves some, then pop over to the bar for a drink or two, and then head back out. Total relaxation, and a perfect 30th birthday celebration for me!
We pretty much spent the rest of our time at the resort. Saturday was my birthday, so we just sat around, relaxed, and I had a nice aromatherapy message, then relaxed some more. Sunday was pretty much a repeat, minus the massage. I would definitely recommend Croatia as a beach destination…it’s still incredibly affordable (compared to Western Europe) and the coast can’t be beat! We had a fantastic time, and I wish we had time to go back for more, but I don’t think we’ll be able to. I’ll definitely have my memories and photos to remind me though!