• Follow real france on WordPress.com
  • Archives

  • Auvers sur Oise

  • antibes

  • Paris

  • chantilly

plitvice in prada

Today we hike Plitvice Lakes.   We rise with the roosters (and the ants), and join some French tourists in the make-due shed for breakfast. Thanks to my new knowledge of the French language, I’m able to pantomime fluently with them about news and politics.

We get to the entrance of the lake pretty early. It’s not crowded yet and we float through to a place where we can see narrow walkways leading down to a milky teal blue lakes (think Peruvian opal) connected by a series of waterfalls. It’s here on this stunning outlook we experience our first moments of doubt. Well, three of us do.   I wonder how long of a hike it is? Do we have to do the whole thing? Are there places we can escape? What if we fall down the narrow footpath? I feel dizzy. What if I can’t get back up? Why don’t I own a pair of shoes designed for this sort of activity?  My mother wonders if there are bathrooms along the way and how clean are they.   I’m not sure what Katherine is thinking.   Her game face is on, but I see a flicker of concern in her eyes.   My dad is thinking “let’s get the show on the road, maybe we can break some record hiking around the lakes!!!!”I’m wearing pair of “Prada Sport” shoes. I got them 8 years ago at a Barney’s sale and never took them out of their box, because I never had an appropriate event to wear them. This is the trip my Prada Sport’s were made for. Rugged yet elegant with a small amount of athletic activity. Shoes you can wear “hiking” or to a restaurant. Up until now I always figured the word “sport” written clearly on the label indicated that the shoes would take care of anything that involved moving my feet. Which may be true As long as my feet aren’t touching the ground. Maybe “sport” in Italian means crappily made. All I know is the damn shoes didn’t even make it to Plitvice without busting a seam. And so far, the only job they’ve had to do is to look elegant. But maybe these “sport” shoes were designed to hold up better on steep rocky paths than in some café. I can only hope.

Plitvice lakes is more magnificent from the side of the lakes than above them. At the first waterfall I notice that my shoes are beginning to resemble the Flinstones’ car. My mother notices that there are a lot of flies. Katherine notices a tiny welt on her arm. My dad is consulting the map and has the entire 10 mile hike charted out. If we walk that way, we see lake number 4 and the falls, but miss three from the northern angle. So we should really take the 14 mile route so we can get every vantage point. He might as well be speaking Croatian.

We’ve been walking for over an hour. All this pristine beauty is starting to get to me. My Pradas are shredded. I don’t know how much more I can take. And really, how can the next lake be more beautiful than this lake? When can we stop walking, knowing we’ve experienced the optimal beauty of Plitvice Lakes without an unnecessary expenditure of energy? And honestly, if the next lake really is more beautiful than this lake, it would probably kill us all because I’m sure God never intended anyone to see anything that beautiful without being dead first. Okay, I’m getting a little convoluted in my thinking, but I’m desperate.

The problem is, I don’t want to be the first one to back down and neither does Katherine or mom. I can see the weary resolve in their lumbering gait. I grasp at straws hoping to force someone else’s hand. Mom, how’s that bladder holding out? Dad, how’s that pacemaker? Boy this would be a terrible place for it to conk out. Nothing. We trudge towards beautiful lake number five.   Well, three of us trudge.   Dad hikes briskly, occassionally stopping and looking back at us expectantly.

There must be something I can do to stop this madness. I frantically rummage through my brain for something new to try.

A large unfamiliar flying insect solves the problem for me by landing on Katherine’s face.  A moan echoes through the forest, bouncing from lake to lake. Katherine flails frantically at her face and starts running in the direction from whence we came.   And she’s moving fast.   We have no choice but to follow her.

God, I love nature.

 

up plitvice lakes without a paddle

I planned this little three generational Croatian adventure. Airlines, hotels, car rental, ferries, you name it. The only place I hadn’t nailed down at least a month in advance was Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. The three huge hotels in the actual national park are handled through the national tourist office and I was told by email, all booked. But “with my patience, they will give me some ideas for other accomadations.” What they didn’t tell me is that I’d have to be patient until the moment we get here.

Nobody I ever met has even heard of Plitvice Lakes. How can it be booked? It’s about four hours from Rovinj, south and inland to Plitvice National Park and World Heritage site. It’s sort of in the middle of nowhere, so the risk is high. It’s supposed to be spectacular. I’m not a woodsy type of person, but for some reason, I mus see Plitvice Lakes. Somehow it will all work out.

After four hours in the car I’m getting a little panicky. There sure are a lot of empty tour buses driving out. Does that mean nobody came or they’re all staying at one of our hotels? What if it’s another three hours to Plitvice the hotels are all booked and we have to find a place to sleep in the dark? What if we can’t find a place and have to sleep in the car? Someone please just throw me off this spectacularly gorgeous waterfall now! Hey, we’re in Plitvice.

They weren’t lying. The place is beautiful and the three huge ugly hotels with separate parking for tour buses really are booked.

Which leaves us two options: go to the tourist office and find lodging or drive through the valley haphazardly looking for houses advertising sobe, zimmers and kamere for the night.

Of course, we make the obvious choice and spend the next hour on the road, discussing the various merits of places with sobe zimmer and kamere signs as we drive past them.

Then we decide that this isn’t really furthering our cause and venture into a few of the nicer looking driveways. Only to be rebuffed. Sometimes they hold up a “No” sign. Sometimes they shake their head and glare. We even get chased down one driveway. We can’t help but take it personally, even though the places really do look full. My mother takes to muttering “yeah, well, screw you, too!’ as we beat our retreats.

This leaves us no choice. Somebody is going to have to get out of the car and talk to a Croatian.

I’m tired and blame not having reservations here on Croatia. And I blame mom and dad, of course, because this whole trip is their fault. If they weren’t paying for this trip, we wouldn’t be in this mess.   Let them deal with it. I’ve dealt with everything else. I’m too frazzled and frail and delicate to cope any more. Katherine stays in the car in solidarity with my frazzled, frail delicateness…or maybe just to stake out her spot in the car to sleep tonight.

When mom and dad emerge from the tourist office looking triumphant, my heart leaps in hope. “There’s a house with two sobes with bathrooms and everything. Right over there” (they wave vaguely in a direction). My heart sinks in despair.

Our lodging is supposed to be about 20 minutes outside the park, way up a winding road on cliffs we could easily fallen to our deaths from. I’m happy to say we don’t die and find the place relatively easily.

It’s almost disgustingly picturesque. A small farm with a vegetable patch, some chickens, ducks geese, pigs, turkeys, goats, kitties, dogs and a brand new litter of three rolling puffs of fur. It’s a veritable petting zoo. We’re overlooking a gorge or valley or some other natural formation I don’t know the name of. I’ll tell you one thing, no tour bus could get up here.

The rooms are fine. Probably 1/2 star.   There are some ants but we give them a good splashing of pure Croatian lavender oil and hope they’ll go away, The environment is a lot nicer than the groddy hotels that rejected us. And everyone knows that the scent of lavender is balancing and soothing.

The smiling proprietress gives us a short tour in Esperanto. She points to herself and says “Mama”. She points to my mother and says “Mama”. She points to the puppies’ mother and says “mama”. We now know everything we need to know and settle in for the night.

I take a deep breath of the lavender scented room.   As long as these aren’t flesh eating ants, I think we’ll be okay.

 

%d bloggers like this: