"Look! There's so many houses with bullet holes in its walls!"
My eyes widened and gasped as I looked out of the bus window. I was on my way to Plitvice National Park and was passing by the town of Turanj. I've already been warned that I would see a lot of ruins of war during my road trip in the Balkans. But not until I saw it myself that I felt my heart sank.
|one of the ruins|
|countless bullet holes in the wall|
|Croatian War of Independence Museum|
Turanj is a historic outpost south of the Austro-Hungarian fortress of Karlovac which was established in 1582 and became particularly important during the Croatian Homeland War in 1991-1995. The bus stopped for a while to allow us to have a quick visit at the Croatian military museum. There's a ruin military base which is still clearly showing signs of combat damage from the war, just like many other houses in that area. Along with an aircraft wreck, they also display a collection of armoured vehicles used by Croatian army during the war.
|wreckage of a MiG-21bis|
I walked around this small open air museum with indescribable feelings. Perhaps I was just being oversensitive but it felt like I was thrown into the wartime, hearing all the screams in terror and sound of barrage of bullets and bombs exploding. I got goosebumps all over my body because of the weird vibe so I decided to continue the journey. It's just so sad to think that people who live in that area have to witness this everyday thus remind them over and over again about what happened during the war.
|Plitvice National Park|
After about 2 hours, my bus was finally entering the protected area of Plitvice National Park that extends over 295 square kilometres, making it the largest national park in Croatia. It's also known as the oldest national park in the country which was proclaimed in 1949. It was already noon so before the trekking, I went for a lunch in one of the restaurants to taste some local cuisine. One of them was 'Chicken Under the Bell', I'll write about it in another blog post though :)
|people are queueing to see one of the waterfalls|
On the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979, Plitvice Lakes are considered one of the most beautiful natural phenomena in the world. In total, there are 16 remarkable cascade lakes which are connected by 92 waterfalls. I can't stress enough how magnificent the views that I got to see. So gorgeous that my pictures don't do it justice. I'm sure this place will be a haven for nature lovers. There are about 1267 different species of plants, 321 species of butterflies, 161 species of birds and a lot more. Visitors also get to choose some activities including walking, trekking, electrical boat, train riding, cycling, skiing and rowing.
|electric boat ride|
|T-shirts by @TravelingID|
Ticket prices vary between 55 Kuna to 180 Kuna, depends on the season. The one-day ticket includes electric boat rides on Lake Kozjak and panoramic train rides, visitor insurance and VAT. If you ask me if it's worth it? Without a doubt, YES! It would be insane to travel to Croatia without a visit to Plitvice National Park. I even bracing myself against the scorching hot weather to do a 3 hours trekking (shortest route but it's a big deal for a polar bear like me :p).
|crystal clear water|
|Plitvice National Park|
In the end my beautiful day was ended abruptly by a sudden storm, heavy rain and hail that made me soaking wet. Plus a rather haunted night staying in one of the hotels in the national park area. All in all, I had such a marvellous experience in Plitvice National Park though. I'd really love to revisit and to explore another routes which I believe nothing less than beautiful.