From Crikvenica, Croatia
GREETINGS FROM THE ADRIATIC!
A brief visit to Plitvice Lakes inspires unplanned trip to Adriatic coast and my first swim in the Northern Adriatic in 50 years!
Plitvice Lakes has always been my favorite tourist attraction in the former Yugoslavia. I visited this beautiful area of 16 cascading lakes interconnected by countless large and small waterfalls with my parents when I was just a small child. I returned to it as a 17-year old with four of my high school buddies. I drove through it briefly 27 years ago in the waning days of my old country, just before the Yugoslav wars broke out.
(On May 30, 1990, the day I last toured the Plitvice Lakes, the newly elected Croatian Parliament held its first session. President Tuđman announced his manifesto for a new Constitution and a multitude of political, economic, and social changes, including a plan for Yugoslavia as a confederation of sovereign states.)
So today, after a wonderful 4-day visit to Serbia, my nephew drove Elizabeth and me to the Croatian border where we had left our Austrian rental car. Our intention was to drive to Plitvice and overnight at one of its hotels. So Elizabeth could also see this emerald jewel, which could be considered one of the wonders of the world.
Alas, it was not to be.
BRIEF VISIT TO PLITVICE
We got to Plitvice alright. And we saw the Big Waterfall, and took some pictures at this amazing spot.
We even hiked down the trail a little bit without paying a ticket to enter this National Park. Guess God just wanted us to visit Yugoslavia’s first national park (since 1949). But we also saw hundreds of buses disgorging thousands of tourists who milled on the Plitvice trails like ants.
CHANGE OF PLANS: CONTINUE TO THE ADRIATIC COAST
“That’s not ‘my Plitvice’ anymore,” I said.
Elizabeth was also tired of running into hoards of Chinese group tours from Bratislava to Budapest, and now also here in Croatia, too. So I quickly devised a Plan B.
“Why don’t we drive to the Adriatic coast and stay one of the lovely resorts in Opatija?” I suggested.
This would add about 3 hours to our day. Since Elizabeth was not feeling very well, exhausted after over 3 weeks of traipsing around Europe, I left the decision up to her.
“Let’s do that,” she agreed.
And so, we continued our drive, generally in southwesterly direction, through Lika, a predominantly Serb-populated district in Croatia (my mother and Nikola Tesla were also born here).
OUR FIRST GLIMPSES OF THE ADRIATIC
We hit the coast at Senj, Croatia, and caught our first glimpses of the Adriatic.
We hit the coast at Senj, Croatia, and eventually were lucky to get a lovely 1-bedroom apartment at a 4-star hotel in Crikvenica. It was the last room available after another Chinese group tour had just checked in.
At one point in the early 1960s, I remember vacationing in Crikvenica with my sister, her husband and our parents. But I don’t really remember much of the town itself.
What I do remember, however, is the scent of the Adriatic. After I put Elizabeth to bed for a much needed rest, I went for a swim in the ocean at a beach just under our hotel. It was wonderful! It was my first swim in the Northern Adriatic since 1967 – half a century ago.
Good night from Crikvenica!