A cranky start to a day of adventure
Yesterday morning the alarm went off early, for I had booked a day trip out to Krka National Park to see the waterfalls there, as well as a visit to a small Croatian town and a wine tasting up in the hills. We’re in for a stretch of cloudy, then rainy, weather here, and things are growing cooler, so I wanted to make sure to get this in while the getting was good.
As excited as I was for the waterfalls, I have to admit, I was pissed when the alarm went off. I really didn’t want to drag myself out of bed. I was, in a word, cranky. It happens. I think this time it was because I was just tired. I get over it, but it’s not fun while it lasts.
Kind of a big tour
I drank a cup of coffee and did my morning rituals(I answered “In a word, I feel … “ with “cranky”), had some breakfast, and then headed out to the meetup point. The office was right next to a coffee place, and I really had not sufficiently caffeinated, but I’d taken a couple of wrong turns to get there, so I really didn’t have time for the slow-moving line. Instead, I walked to the square and waited with the others. This square is pigeon central, and I got a kick out of watching their overhead committee meetings.
I stopped looking at the birds and noticed that this group was getting mighty big. Like 70ish people.
We marched to the waiting bus, not far from where I’m staying, which made me feel a little embarrassed, but at least our guide just had a yellow jacket on instead of a big sign. Still, the locals in the café stared at us as we marched. Oh well. I AM a tourist.
We would get some free time
On the hourish-long bus ride, the guide gave us some basic information about our day’s activities, and I began to feel a bit better. I had understood when I booked the day trip that we would have lots of free time to ourselves, and I felt reassured by the guide’s description of the day. Plus, the ride was pleasant.
The young man collected our cash for the park entrance fee (I’ve noticed that tours here do not include admission fees to the attractions. They state this up front, but it’s always a good idea to bring some cash with you, regardless). Once at the park, he bought our tickets, and the bus driver dropped us off. The guide showed us a map, told us where to meet him, and we were on our own.
Finding out about Krka
Confession time: other than the fact that it’s breathtakingly beautiful, I booked this day trip knowing next to nothing about Krka National Park. So, here’s what I learned. The park gets its name from the Krka River, which runs through the park, and ther’s a series of waterfalls, which you walk along a wooden nature path to see. We were there to see the waterfalls at Skradinski Buk. There’s a few exhibits of a water-powered mill and you can see a hydropower station that was the first one built in Europe, but the reason to do this is for those gorgeous waterfalls.
But first, coffee . . . with a view
Before I went on the little walk through the woods on the path, I stopped to get a coffee. I was still a bit cranky, and I was annoyed that I needed to use my time in the park to get coffee, but it wasn’t going to get any better without coffee, so I did it. The best views of the falls were toward the end of the path, but there were waterfalls in view of my coffee spot. I’ve certainly had worse places to drink coffee, I thought, wellbeing getting restored. I then braved the queue for the WC, and set off on my walk through the woods.
A lovely walk along the path
This must be a zoo in high summer, but right now, it’s lovely. Honestly, this walk was what shoulder-season travel is all about. Even in the late-morning sun, it was cool. There were others on the path, but I also got nice stretches of it to myself, with plenty of time to watch the fish swim in the water and admire the little waterfalls and flowers along the path. I took my time, and just let people pass me by as the needed.
And then. WOW. Would you look at that!
Sometimes, that’s all I got when I see something truly amazing. I love being rendered speechless. I certainly was not cranky.
Along the path, there are various places where you can stop for snaps, but by far the best spot to admire the falls is the large wooden bridge, directly in front of the falls. The roar silences the voices around you, and the angling for selfies got more respectful, as I think everyone appreciated the natural beauty we encountered.
A riverboat ride
I got a closer view of the falls across the bridge, but then it was time to meet up with the group to take a riverboat ride to Skradin, a small town near the entrance to Krka National Park. Alas, the riverboat tour was where the huge tour caught up with me. I didn’t get the best seat on the boat. The person next to me who had a good seat spent her entire time on her phone, looking at Instagram. She’s probably lucky that my crankiness had subsided some, because I probably would have told her what I thought. Another unlucky passenger sitting across from me seemed to agree.
In Skradin, we had about an hour and a half before some of us would leave for a wine tasting. I liked this tiny little town, but it made me feel a bit sad. It seemed very empty (maybe people were just at work), and the few businesses a bit tired. Maybe it’s just because we’ve moved into the off season. I hope my impression wasn’t true. It did offer a lot of opportunities for photos, so I snapped way.
Lunch with the bees
I decided to use the lesson I learned in Dubrovnik about just picking someplace and eating in Skradin. A few couples from the tour had had the same idea. It wasn’t until my food arrived that I noticed all of the bees. So. Many. Wasps. Everyone was waving them away, and it became a bit of a joke. One tinged with terror.
The poor head waiter. He tried to shoo them away, but it was not working. When a wasp burrowed under my cheese, I decided that was it. I paid up and left. It’s a pity, because the food was nice and the wine was very good, but I didn’t want a side of wasp with my food. Other diners had the same idea. My crankiness returned a bit, but once I’d left, I realized that I’d always remember my lunch with the bees and laughed to myself.
A little more strolling about empty Skradin and then it was time for the wine tasting. I’d say about a third of us had signed up for it (to me, it was a big selling point, because the wine was included in the ticket price). We rode up into the hills above Skradin to Vinarija Sladić, a small, family-run winery with a lovely tasting area.
I sat at a large table up on the terrace looking out to the red-tiled roof buildings across the way. We had some samples of local cheese and olive oil produced by the family and proceeded to taste three wines, a white, a rosé, a red, and a dessert wine. We had a little bit of an introduction to the wines, but mostly, we just sipped.
I took some notes (not because I know a lot about wine, but so I would remember), as did another person at my table, but most just drank happily. Generally I like a nice dry white for sipping when it’s warm, but the rosé had some very unique notes, and I wished that I’d had the red when having wine out on the terrace in Montenegro.
As wine is wont to do, it loosened our tongues, and the group gathered at the table had a lovely conversation. I keep forgetting that a three-month journey in the Balkans to write and explore slower travel is unusual, and I had more attention at the table than I might have liked. However, we had a fun conversation about various places we’ve been and what we’re doing. And a bit about the wine.
I bought a bottle of the red and the rosé, and others bought the white and the dessert wine. Combined, we could have had a lovely dinner party back in Split, but, as these things go, I didn’t speak to my fellow tasters again. We boarded the bus, picked up those who did not go to the winery, and headed back into Split, just in time to drop off my clanking wine bottles and go catch the sunset on the Riva.
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