Wednesday 27 April 2016

BACKPACKING EUROPE: Krka National Park, Croatia

The spitting image of God, Krka National Park

Wednesday 6th May, 2015

Jack and I had been travelling Europe for twenty three days and so far, everything had been a dream come true. The sense of happiness and freedom that I was continuously feeling was euphoric. Today was our 11th day in Croatia and I was excited to visit one of its iconic attractions, Krka National Park. Originally, Jack and I had planned on visiting Plitvice Lakes, the most popular national park in Croatia however, our newest friend Zrinka (who we met in Zagreb) told us to go to Krka instead as it's less touristy, it's just as beautiful and unlike Plitvice, you can swim in the lakes. It was also half the price and because the advice came from someone who had been living in Croatia her whole life, we trusted her judgement.

Jack and I stayed in Sibenik the night before in a beautiful apartment that we found on Airbnb. Sibenik is actually the oldest city on the Adriatic, it's youthful and lively and filled with heaps of history but as I was really poorly when we arrived, I spent most of the day napping or lazying around on the balcony. The view from our apartment was pretty impressive though and really made up for missing out on sightseeing Sibenik.

View of Sibenik from our apartment

Thursday 7th May, 2015

The bus left Sibenik at 9:00am. I was so excited that I almost passed out but that was probably because it was so hot and stuffy on the bus and there was no air conditioning, or oxygen apparently.
As the bus crossed over the bridge and into the town of Skradin, the surrounding scenery was stunning. In front of me stood great green hills, capped with infinite trees. To my left was a romantic mediterranean town, sheltered by the arms of nature and on my right was Krka Lake, the entrance to the national park.

The bus arrived at Krka just after 9:30am. We purchased our tickets, which cost us 90 Kuna (approx. £9.00/12 Euros) each and this also included a 10/15 minute boat ride from the main entrance into the park.

As we sailed across Krka Lake, my camera in one hand and a beer in the other (never too early to drink when you're travelling), the view beyond was breathtaking. 'This can't be real,' played throughout my mind repeatedly, it was just like something that you would see in film or a dream. I was ready to jump off the boat and live here forever.

Entering Krka National Park
A bridge over coloured waters, Krka National Park
As I walked along the path and into the woodland, leaves began to sparkle as the sun shon through the trees. And there it was, heaven. Or something like that. I had never seen a waterfall this big before, it was quite a special moment for me (as lame as that sounds) because it's not something you see everyday, so to be standing in front of this powerful work of nature felt very surreal.

The rest of the national park was just as beautiful as its waterfalls. I enjoyed roaming along the paths and through the forest, falling in love with the turquoise waters and its display of dragonflies. It was mesmerising. The park was pretty big so we only got to see a fraction of it, which I was pretty gutted about. I wanted to explore for days and hike through the forest and along the river but we had to be back at the bus stop by 5:00pm for the last bus.

Wandering in the now, Krka National Park

How can something be this beautiful?

Is this even real?
The park got busier after 1:00pm, there were swarms of tourists surrounding the waterfall, all trying to get a glimpse of the white waters. I'm glad we arrived early to enjoy the peace and quiet. It was getting pretty hot and crowded at this point so Jack and I decided to have a dip in the water. Considering it was quite a hot day, the water was fucking freezing! I nearly died, I swear. Jack however, swam through like a bloody dolphin and really enjoyed it. I however, cannot handle the cold so as soon as I stepped into the water, toe by toe, I could feel that this place was going to be the death of me. The anticipation was too much so I braved the coldness and just flopped straight in, shoving my whole body underneath but oh no. The cold shot straight up my shin bones, making my legs ache and I literally thought my legs were going to drop off. So I thought, 'fuck this' and quickly bailed. At least I gave it a shot though, right?!

After my failed attempt at a swim in the beautiful translucent waters of Krka, Jack and I decided to go and get something to eat. We didn't bring anything with us so we decided to eat at the park and bloody hell it was expensive. We both ended up buying a schnitzel, as it was the cheapest main on the menu and cost around 70 Kuna (approx. £7.00/9 Euros) each. TIP: If you go to Krka or any national park in Croatia, I would recommend bringing your own food.

Once we had finished eating, we walked around the park for a little longer, enjoying every moment that we had left in this natural paradise. As I lay on the floor, with an ice cream in hand, I began to reflect on the past day and everything I had seen. It was a wonderful experience. Before we knew it it was 4:35pm and we were on the boat back to the entrance, in time for the 5:00pm bus back to Sibenik.

If you get the chance to visit Croatia, I would really recommend visiting Krka National Park. One day I will also visit Plitvice Lakes as well but I'd love to come back to Krka again and discover more parts of it. I  would also recommend either staying in Sibenik or somewhere relatively close to the park such as Skradin and dedicate a whole day to this natural wonderland.

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