a Croatian adventure
Plitvice Travel Blog› entry 15 of 42 › view all entries
Are you ready for a story?
So I got on a bus in Zagreb, headed for Plitvicka Jazera (the Plitvice Lakes). I had booked a little apartment (it seems that everyone in Croatia has a spare room/apartment/house to rent out) through an English-Croatian website for about the same price as a hostel, which seemed like a good idea at the time.
I started getting stressed that I would miss the stop, coz they didn't announce the stops & I had no idea where I was or what the stop before it was etc. But the conductor/ticket guy (yes, long-distance bus with a conductor - quite luxurious really!) came & told me it was coming up. So I get off the bus, it's about 6pm, raining, completely dark, and I'm absolutely in the middle of nowhere.
I had presumed (foolishly it seems) that when they said the apartment was 300m from bus stop & 500m from national park entrance, that they were talking about the Plitvicka Jazera bus stop & the main park entrance. Apparently not.
I walked along the road to the park entrance, and when I say road, I mean road - it's basically a country highway, so no footpaths, no streetlights (just the occasional blinding light of an oncoming car), and old ice & snow piled along the sides.
At the park entrance there was a bank & a post office & a national park office - all obviously closed at this time of night. There was also a hotel… closed at this time of year. There was a sign saying there was another hotel 300m. 300m what?? Left? Right? North? South? Where?!? I walked up & down paths & across carparks & inspected all visible buildings - all closed.
Definitely a time to make an expensive cell-phone call. I call the number I have for this apartment owner (website says owner has "knowledge of English"). I don't think it was the owner who answered, whoever she was she did have a "knowledge" of English - she knew I was speaking English & could tell me that she didn't really understand much English. We had a few minutes of awkward, fruitless conversation before I gave up.
Still in the middle of nowhere, heavy bags, rain, very very dark.
I took a lucky guess from some road signs as to the direction of this other hotel, and trudged down the road (trying not to get killed by passing cars, AND it was more than 300m). The hotel (open!) was a blessed sight & I was already prepared to pay whatever to stay there if I had to, even though I'd already paid for the apartment.
I asked the receptionist if they knew this address, they all conferred, decided they did & it was about 5kms away. No taxis of course, but the girl said that she would check if her colleague might drive me. So this guy goes & gets his car, another girl called the number on my piece of paper (no idea what she said), and I said thank you thank you thank you.
Hotel guy was very sweet - as we drove past the park entrance, he showed me where the road/path was that I would take tomorrow to get from the apartment to the park. Drove me to the apartment (turns out it was one bus stop further on - and I never would have found the place anyway), carried my bag up, seemed to know the apartment guy, made sure I was all set, and only asked for 50kn (about $10).
I'm still amazed that this somehow wasn't an absolutely horrifying disaster AND that I didn't completely fall apart. Had this happened last week when I was having a bit of an emotional/lonely crisis, I expect I would've just sat & sobbed in the middle of the national park car park. But I was quite calm the whole time. And now I'm sitting in a rather too warm, simple two-bedroom flat, with kitchen, bath, tv - it's quite nice really!
I can't say I'd choose to repeat this adventure (I think I'll stick to actual hostels/hotels from now on), but I'm safe & warm, no harm done (& actually I never felt unsafe - except for the cars on the highway - just rather lost). Someone's watching over me.