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Monday, September 16: Day 147 – Shades of Green

Today we went to the Plitvice Lakes.
Our excellent guide Barry said that this is the best time to visit since it is autumn and the crowds are thinning and the leaves are starting to change. (I must have been off my game or he was a good guide because I didn’t have many questions throughout the day.)

On our way we pass by Diocletian’s aqueduct that travels 5½ miles with a slope of approximately 100 feet. It was built from 295-305 AD.

When Diocletian was ruling his portion of Rome, he did so from Nicomedia which is modern day Ismit, Turkey.

Diocletian was obsessed with Egypt. He brought columns from there to his retirement palace. In the city square there are purple columns on the side of Diocletian’s residence indicating godlike royalty. On the opposite end, there are grey columns.

The Mausoleum that was built by Diocletian was converted to a cathedral that houses the relics of the patron saint of the city, Domnius, who was beheaded by order of Diocletian. Irony!

We learned that there are no flies at fish markets because they don’t like sulfur. One could call Split a “No fly zone”.

The columns in the White House are from Brač.

We made a rest stop and I struck up a conversation with Paul and Sue who had been on a bicycle trip in Croatia.

They have retired from the National Park Service. Rob’s neighbor and childhood friend from Franklin, VA, Mike Murray, has also retired from NPS. Not only did they know him, they had attended his wedding! Again, God continues to amaze us when He makes connections.

Croatia is small and diverse. Hrvatska is the Croatian word for Croatia. That explains why .hr is at the end of local web addresses.

Croatia is shaped like a boomerang due to Ottomans trying to reach Vienna. Croatia was considered the wall of Christianity because they stopped the advancement of the Ottomans. Croatia is divided into regions. Dalmatia and Lika are regions.

Zadar is a gorgeous coastal town known for agriculture. They have a sea organ and you are able to attend a concert by the sea. I would have enjoyed hearing the music improvised by the waves.

Sea Organ

Apparently, Alfred Hitchcock said that it was the most beautiful sound that he ever heard.

The highest mountain is the border to the national park. There are two climates: the humid warm Adriatic and the cold dry mountain air. When they meet, it causes a high wind called Bora. In the winter, the winds can get as high as 150 mph, and they close the bridge.

There is a tunnel that connects the two climates. When we went into the tunnel the temperature was 23°C. When we came out the other side, it was 15°C.

There are 1,246 islands in Croatia. We passed by the island of Pag. There is so much salt in the air that they don’t have to add it to a special type of cheese. There are no trees, just rocks.

The reenactment of the historic 13th-century battle between the pirates of Omiš and the Venetians takes place every year on August 18, in the nearby town of Omiš. It is Barry’s hometown, and he very colorfully recounted the ramming, looting, and pirating that takes place. Omiš is called the “City of Pirates”.

Zinfandel from California was the first time that an American wine had won over French wines in 1973. DNA analyses showed that the vines had Croatian origins.

Croatia was so happy to be in the final of the world cup for soccer. When they recently won the silver, eight hundred thousand people greeted the return of the team in Zagreb. They have won a bronze, then a silver in their 28 year history of participating in the World Cup as a nation. A big accomplishment for such a small country. They are looking forward to a gold.

The capital city of Zagreb has the most museums in Europe from traditional ones like Christmas to the quirky like the Museum of Broken Relationships. They have opened a branch in Los Angeles. People send in a momento representative of the break-up…or you can send information online.

Nikolai Tesla had a Croatian mother and a Serbian father. He was proud of his heritage.

It as even said that Einstein was once asked,”How does it feel to be the smartest man in the world?” His answer, ” I don’t know, ask Nikolai Tesla.” This may have been sarcasm as the two men did not like each other.

Tesla was a bad student but a great inventor. His 150 patents were free. Even though he is now known for the car, one of his inventions was the neon sign. (There is a sign museum in Cincinnati that has lots of neon signs.)

Plitvice Lakes was established as a National Park in 1946 and given a UNESCO distinction in 1979. It is the biggest and oldest. They had 1.6 million visitors last year with only one death. She fell from a precipice trying to take a selfie. Last year, there were more cell phone deaths than shark attack deaths.

We will see 1% of the park today. There are 16 lakes. Actually, satellite mapping revealed 89 lakes, but most of those are too small and not named.

Water makes this park special. With the high carbon content and pH over 7, the moss and algae form tufa or a sediment barrier that grows up to 1cm per year. This growth can cause a change of direction and the formation of a new lake.

The upper lakes have beautiful boardwalks across green waters due to the dolamite and also the Big Splasher Waterfall.

The lower lakes are turquoise blue due to limestone and have the Big Waterfall, the biggest in Croatia. (Barry admitted that they aren’t very imaginative names.)

It would take 2 days just to hike all of the routes around the lakes. We used an electric boat to cross the beautiful Green lake. It was so quiet.

The Korana River is 80km to the Adriatic as the crow flies, but the river travels 1,000km and empties into the Black Sea.

There are 1,400 plant species of which 55 are orchids. One doesn’t find them around the lake since people pick them. The trees make up a 400-year-old virgin forest.

Animals are the brown bear, lynx and wolf, but they wander into Bosnia since they don’t know boundaries. Fish species are chub, trout, and pike. (Pike are an aggressive invasive fish.) Other fauna are butterflies, snakes and bats.

There are seven types of snakes in the park. Two are poisonous vipers. Vipers don’t have eggs, but live births. The mother snake lies on a log or branch and drops babies. Look out above!!…and put your hoodie on your head.

In the spring, the snow melts and sometimes the park has to close due to flooding and one can’t walk on the boardwalks.

People used to be able to swim here twenty years ago, but it started to affect the ecosystem. Sunscreens were found to be toxic. Also, the number of people or tickets sold has been limited to a specific number.

Words often used by guides that we don’t hear much in the States:

Problematic, Proper or Properly, Touristic

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