Scenes from a Fairy Tale
31.07.2013 - 03.08.2013
From July 31st to August 2nd I joined a “Natural Beauties” tour of Slovenia and Croatia through the Balkan Road Trip travel company. The three national parks were the highlight of this tour, but the cities of Ljubljana, Slovenia and Split, Croatia turned out to be nice surprises as well.
Here is a Google map showing where Slovenia and Croatia are located.
This is an overview of the tour itinerary and locations.
My trip started in Ljubljana, Slovenia. I wasn't expecting much when I arrived, but was pleasantly surprised to see this small city has several visual delights to offer. Two well-traveled Facebook friends of mine told me how much they loved Ljubljana as well. I worry this hidden gem might be discovered some day and will be ruined by hordes of tourists.
I couldn’t figure out how these street performers pulled this off. I looked close, but saw no additional supporting mechanisms.
Several of my friends have jokingly warned me to keep out of jail during my travels. My hostel in Ljubljana used to be the town jail, and the hostel owner kept some of the original characteristics of the place. Below is a picture of my room.
The first stop of my trip in Slovenia was Lake Bled. The scenery here comes straight out of a fairy tale.
My picture of this castle on Lake Bled didn’t turn out well so I am borrowing one from the internet.
I signed up for a canyoneering trip near Lake Bled. This involved rappelling down canyon walls into ice-cold mountain pools.
In several places our group had the option to jump instead of rappel.
The tour ended with a float down a river.
Plitvice National Park
This natural wonder and UNESCO World Heritage site draws up to 20,000 visitors a day during the summer. This park features 16 lakes which cascade from end to the other through hundreds of beautiful waterfalls.
Two aerial photographs I am borrowing from the internet.
A few more photographs.
This chart shows a cross-section of the lake system.
Waterfalls, big and small, are everywhere.
I walked this staircase but took this picture from the internet.
The water is amazingly clear because the limestone geology filters out water impurities.
The park logo features a bear because this is one of the few places in Europe where bears can still be found in the wild. Signs warning tourists about bears are prevalent, but my guide said an encounter with a bear is rare.
Krka National Park
Swimming in Plitvice is not allowed as 20,000 swimmers a day would quickly wreck the ecosystem. The next day my group went to Krka National Park, which features similar waterfalls and allows visitors to swim. I spent the day sunbathing and swimming here with others in my travel group. I am using a picture from the internet.
The tour guide treated us to a traditional Croatian meal known as peka. This dish comes in many varieties, and is a stew of meats, potatoes, and vegetables. The chef cooks the stews in the middle of a wood oven. A protective bell, known as a peka, covers the food and protects it from the flames. Below are two pictures from the internet showing how peka is made and a sample dish.
My tour ended in Split, Croatia. I found out that Split started out as the retirement castle for the Roman emperor Diocletian. For those of you fuzzy on your Roman history, he is the guy who split the Roman Empire in half in 285 A.D. He is also known for sponsoring one of the worst persecutions of Christians, which must be exhausting work, because he was the only Roman emperor to abdicate and retire.
This is what Diocletian’s crib probably looked like back in the day.
Here are few pictures of what it looks like today. I really enjoyed walking around the old city. It is one of those places that is filled with "oohs and aahs."