We were up at half-six this morning, feeling quite sad that tonight would be our last night in Croatia. How the time had flown! We had to meet our driver in reception at 8.00am, hence the early start.
We enjoyed a good breakfast once again, then returned to room 511 to collect our essentials for today; stout trainers and loose, cool clothes; I decided white trousers would be best. Then we ensured we had our currency, credit card, phone/camera and all the other everyday essentials.
We met the others in the hotel foyer and the receptionist asked what time we would like dinner tonight, as it was included in the hotel. We all agreed that seven o’clock would be ideal, and then we left the hotel and walked across the road, where our mini-bus was waiting. We had a new driver this time, who introduced himself as Peter. Today we were going to visit Krka (pronounced ‘kir-ka’) National Park, and Peter said it would take a couple of hours to get there.
We set off through the streets, as ever, enjoying looking out of the windows. People chatted or read; I played a couple of games of Plants vs. Zombies 2 on my phone. Peter also pointed out anything of interest to us. And so the journey passed pleasantly, and soon the bus pulled up in a parking area and we all got out.
Our tour today was self-guided, and Peter gave each of us an illustrated map showing us the route we were to take. Our tour would end with a 30 minutes boat ride across the lake, so Peter gave me his mobile number and asked me to ring him when we were getting on the boat, around 12.30pm, so he could make sure he had the bus waiting for us at the other side in good time.
We therefore decided that all seven of us had better stay in one group, and do the tour around the National Park together. We set off at a leisurely pace, walking along the signposted boardwalks along the leafy routes. There were lots of trees and bushes with many brightly-coloured butterflies and bees flying around. We learned that the Krka Waterfalls area has the second highest density of lavender in Europe, which would explain the high frequency of wasps and bees in the area.
The national park is named after the Krka River, which runs through it. We could hear the rushing of the water which was clear and contained many fish. Dragonflies flitted among the leaves and twigs on the nearby bushes, the sun shining on their beautifully-coloured bodies and lacy wings. I wanted to photograph them in flight but they moved so quickly I didn’t have time to focus my phone camera. I had to wait until they were resting on a leaf or twig, and I was pleased with the photos I did take; using the zoom on my Samsung Galaxy 21 phone.
There were a lot of waterfalls in the park and watching them was exhilarating as they rolled over the edge into the river, some of them with a lovely green hue to them.
In fact, the overall colours we could see were shades of bright green and turquoise and blue as the sun shone down from a sapphire sky, lighting the leaves and creating dappled effects on the boardwalks, ground and river. It was simply gorgeous.
Despite the shade of the trees we found it very hot work walking through the park, and paused for a rest frequently. We had brought bottles of cold water – well, it was cold when we left the hotel this morning – but it had now warmed up to the ambient temperature which was in the low 30s.
Part of the way through the tour, we came to a building that contained some huge mill stones; remnants of a restored watermill that used to be part of the Krka Hydropower Plant. The plant began operation in 1895, just two days after Tesla’s hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls. Thanks to the builders Mayor Ante Šupuk and engineer Vjekoslav Meischner, the town of Šibenik received electricity before many European cities.
As we were walking along the route we came across several other parties of visitors and guided tours; one guide was holding up an “Azamara Cruises” sign, so there was obviously one of their ships in port and this was one of their excursions.
After about an hour and a half, we came to an open area that had a few stalls selling ice creams, drinks and snacks; tables and chairs were set up under the trees. We made a beeline for the ice-cream and enjoyed a two-scoop tub each. Some of the others had chips and cold drinks; we decided to wait until we finished the tour before indulging in a beer each in case we couldn’t find any toilets! 🙂
Around ten past twelve we decided we’d better make tracks if we were to be sure of catching the 12.30pm boat across the lake. We had a 10 minute walk and, when we arrived at the boat pick-up point, the queue was massive! Looking at the size of the boats and the number of people standing in the four or five deep queue, we thought there was no way we were all going to make it. We needn’t have worried, however, as there were about four double-decker boats that arrived, one after the other.
It was about 12.40 when we boarded, and I immediately called Peter-the-driver to let him know we were on the boat and on our way; he asked me to ring him again when we disembarked at the other side, and he would direct us to where the bus was parked.
The boat was pretty crowded and everyone sat shoulder to shoulder. We therefore didn’t have a very good view of the river banks sliding past us, and I was actually relieved to disembark. Calling Peter back, he told us to make our way round to the right where we would see a large, grassy area with a car/coach park next to it, and indeed we did. 🙂
Soon we were all aboard the bus and on our way to our next stop-off, the nearby port town of Šibenik, where Peter said there was a cathedral worth visiting. Šibenik is a minor cruise port and we spotted the Azamara Onward in port; that would explain the guided tour we saw taking place in Krka earlier on. 🙂
Dropping us at the bus station in Šibenik, Peter asked us to be back at three o’clock. Phoebe was quite tired and said she would just stay on the bus, but the rest of us set off towards the cathedral dome we could see in the near distance. On the way, however, we spotted an attractive little pavement bar/café and wondered if we would have the time for a quick beer. Of course we would! 🙂
Owen, Jane and Kath decided to visit the cathedral first and then come back, but Linda, Trevor and I sat at a table and ordered a large, freezing cold beer each. I was good and thirsty and it really went down a treat. But afterwards I was like The Man Who Can’t Be Moved again, and didn’t really feel as though I had the energy to visit the cathedral; after all, we’d seen loads of cathedrals on our last holiday and seen them in Budva and Kotor, Dubrovnik and Split – and of course, we have our own magnificent cathedral in Durham. So Linda, Trevor and I just ordered another drink each; shortly afterwards Owen, Jane and Kath joined us, and Phoebe, who had changed her mind about staying on the bus, joined us too.
We made it back to the bus just after 3.00pm, then set off on the road to return to Split and the Hotel President, arriving back around 5.00pm. It gave us time to have a power nap, then get showered and blow-dried and changed and spruced up a little for dinner in the hotel at seven.
As we all took our places at the table, the wine waiter came over and asked if we could care for some drinks. To make up for the inconvenience we’d caused earlier on in the holiday by leaving our passports behind (!!), Trevor bought a bottle of Moët & Chandon for our table, and we all raised our glasses and said “cheers” to a fabulous holiday. 🙂
The seven of us were the only diners in the whole restaurant, and it was a set meal. We started off with penne pasta in a tomato and garlic sauce, followed by chicken escalopes with mashed potato and vegetables, and finished off with some crêpes with ice-cream and an over-abundance of chocolate sauce. It was too rich and gooey for me so I left most of it.
Afterwards we all went our separate ways, some going back to their room to start packing. But we still effectively had a full day in Split tomorrow, because our transport was not coming to take us to the airport until 7.00pm tomorrow night. This would make up for our very late arrival on the first night. 🙂
Trevor and I decided to go into town, and we walked along in the balmy evening air looking for somewhere to have a few drinks. As it was Friday night, the streets were thronging with people and the restaurants, bars and ice-cream parlours were all doing a roaring trade.
We wandered around for a bit until we came to a traditional-looking bar which was open along one side; high tables and chairs were set along this side so that you were both inside the bar and had the benefit of the fresh air as well. The bar was dimly lit by large rounded light bulbs with exaggerated glowing filaments hanging from thick rope cables.
We liked it in the bar. A good selection of popular music was playing and we took turns in naming the song, using the “Shazam” app when we didn’t know. We were in an ideal place to indulge in a spot of people-watching, and it was pleasant just enjoying our drinks and relaxing and passing the time; we weren’t in any hurry.
After a couple of beers we decided to move on, and we found a pavement bar we’d been to last night, but the guy said they were closed! (It was after 11.00pm, so maybe they operate the same licencing hours as we do in Britain.) So we continued walking about until we came to another open-air bar where there was a male-and-female singing duo. I ordered an Aperol Spritz and we sat back and enjoyed our drinks and the music.
We got back to the Hotel President around 11.45pm, and we sat out on the terrace for a short while before turning in. We decided our packing could wait until tomorrow, as we didn’t have to check out of the hotel until 11.00am.
And so we settled down for our final night in fabulous Croatia, and we looked forward to making the most of tomorrow.