The morning sun rising up over the mountains of central Croatia dispelled the fog that rolled in with yesterday’s rain. The sight of the sun hitting a bright yellow beech tree drew me outside into the crisp fall air for an early morning photo. It would be the first of many photos I would take of radiant fall foliage that day.
We checked out of our hotel just after breakfast and traveled 6 km to Croatia’s first national park, Plitvice Lakes National Park. Established in 1949, it is not difficult to imagine why this place received the honor of being set aside as a national treasure. Sixteen crystal clear, cascading lakes surrounded by limestone rock faces provide continuous inspiration for awe and praise (and photography).
Swollen from the previous day’s rains, the lakes spilled over every ledge, some dripping gently and others, like the Veliki Slap (Large Waterfall), plunging 250 feet over a cliff. The sound of living, falling water surrounded us all day long.
One of the most impressive features of the Plitvice National Park is the wooden walking trail system that allowed us to walk on water. I’m not quite sure how they can make wet wood safe for walking, but it worked! The skill and attention of the Plitvice’s caretakers are obvious everywhere. The park is immaculately clean, even the leaves from the entry sidewalks were swept away with kitchen brooms (it had to be an hourly task considering the rate the leaves were falling!). Buses and boats move visitors effortlessly between the upper region to the lower region of the park, offering more delightful views. The designers of this space did a fantastic job giving visitors access to nature’s most intimate spaces while at the same protecting the integrity of the park’s natural beauty.
If you’ve never visited this region before, it is worth mentioning the most prominent feature of the park—the color of the water. I feel inadequate to describe it with words. The best I can do is to say that it is the color of emeralds and the clarity of glass. The clarity is the result of two important features: water that is close to its source with little opportunity for pollution, and the limestone formations that work to calcify everything it comes in contact with, thereby preventing a muddy base. The brilliant color comes from the mineral magnesium carbonate in the water.
As we reluctantly exited Plitvice, one of my traveling companions remarked on the peace and tranquility she felt, surrounded by the sound of water all day—rushing, trickling, roaring, shushing, gurgling, lapping. That reminded me of a verse which seemed so fitting for our excursion:
“And I saw the glory of God of Israel… His voice was the like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with His glory.” Ezekiel 43:2
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