Monday, March 31, 2014

Into Plitvice Lakes National Park

Staying in/near national parks certainly has its advantages, especially for photography. You could stay till the later hours, catch better light, avoid the crowds etc etc. So I made it a point to find accommodation near Plitvice Lakes National Park.

There are hotels within the park, but prices were out of my budget. So I stayed in a family-run guesthouse in a village 800 metres from the entrance of the park. As I lumbered into the tiny village of Rastovaca, I counted like a total of 11 house, all sitting pretty with Zimmer(Rooms)/Coffee/CableTV signs outside. But as I went knocking, I found most were not in operations (yet)! Apparently, official visiting season starts 1 April, and many prefer to enjoy their own leisure time before they get busy with the tourists! In fact, the park fees double from 55 kunas to 110 kunas on 1 Apr and I'm 3 days short of paying twice the amount.

I did find a family who accepted my business. But found out that they don't prepare meals (outside of season). Neither did the whole village. And not a supermarket or restaurant in sight.

The family did sent me 3 pieces of freshly baked bread and homemade jam though. And happily enlightened me that the park entrance has a cafe and a mart. Great!

The mart was tiny. They stocked bread, and some canned food. The cafe's food variety consists all of apple strudel and cheese/ham sandwich. It was already 4pm and I did some simple hike outside the park. At 6pm, the ticketing guys called it a day and I wandered into the park for an hour of photography.

So dinner was that wonderful 3 pieces of bread. Luckily, I had bought a big loaf of pumpkin bread and a big slab of smoked cheese in Zagreb for breakfast and there were quite abit left. So my breakfast next day consisted of pumpkin bread with smoked cheese.

Plitvice Lakes National Park was an absolute pleasure. The only unfortunate thing was, it's too early spring and the trees were still brown and bare. Nothing like the lush green or winter white in the postcards. Still the turquoise lakes were just mersmerising! The trails and boardwalks and signs were simple to follow. I took my time and the whole excursion was a whole 9 hours in the park. There were 2 cafes in the circuit I took, and well, they served only apple strudels and cheese sandwiches. I just ate my muesli bars which I brought from Singapore.

It was almost 7pm when I exited the park. The closest restaurant was in the hotel in the park that was in another entrance several kilometers away. I was too tired and went back to my room for a sumptuous meal of pumpkin bread with smoked cheese.

Next day I woke up to a breakfast of good old pumpkin bread and smoked cheese. The very last of it. I thought I had ample time to catch my bus to Split, until I noticed my mobile phone's time and my watch was different. Damn Daylight Savings (again)! Luckily my phone's time auto adjusted! And that I realized it in time!

The bus took 6 hours to Split, and the lunch stop places doesn't look particularly appetising. When I reached Split, it was 4pm. It was not too long when I found myself sitting in a restaurant. There was a look of absolute glee when my order of grilled sea-bass came in two mouth-watering pieces. The grilled vegetables was just sweet, and washed down with simple white wine, it was pure pleasure!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Silent film

It was my last night at Zagreb before I leave for Plitvice Lake. My airbnb host asked if I were interested in a silent film.

"It's a silent film, so there's no need for any translation", she said.

Well said!

And it brought back certain amount of nostalgia. For those in-the-know (or appropriately  aged), remember those Charlie Chaplin black-and-white silent film? For 10 kuna (~S$2.25), I was in a cinema watching a film of that genre. In those days, a whole story could be told with just the visuals. Of course, occasionally, certain dialog or narration were required and the movie scene would switch to a completely black screen with huge words for the dialog or narration (thankfully it's in English since the movie was originally an American one ). And then, it would continue back to the movie scene again. Yes, those were the days!

But here in this cinema, there was something else. Live music. At the corner of the stage where the movie screen was, a single pianist provided the music for the movie! It was an interesting setup indeed. Of course, the music played complemented the scenes and the amazing thing is, he played the piano throughout the whole 1+ hour of the film! When it ended, everyone gave him a very appreciative applause!

Thoroughly enjoyed this!

In a totally unrelated note, I forgot to bring my adapter for my 3-pin plug of my laptop charger! And this was not my first time! And so now I have my 4th travel adapter.....

And in another totally unrelated note, bought some oranges in this Dolac market and its just fabulous!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Ramblings

My backpack weighed a ton! And so I thought.

Or so I felt.

It's essentially the same weight as my previous trips. I wonder how long more would I be able to do this. One can run to the four corners of the Earth, but age would still catch up to you.

I decided to start another blog - one that rambles about my thoughts and experiences, just as I did on my 448-day extended trip few years ago. Except that this is an open, ongoing one that I could turn to for all travels that I do. Unlike my previous Roving Random Ramblings, where I tried to blog regularly so that it could sort of document my entire trip, this blog would be updated, as and when I have something to write. The frequency could be daily, or it could be weeks before an update. The entries could be just an image (an Image of the Day!?), or a series of images. Maybe it may not even be travel related! (hmm...)

And so I present you...... my Really Random Roving Ramblings :)

It's an unearthly 2am flight, and thank goodness for my free entry to this transit lounge. My shoulders are aching just lugging my backpack for checkin! Ha! Perhaps I'm not fully recovered from my recent poor health. But the most sobering realization came when I was packing my guidebooks/maps and printouts. There is a first for everything, even after countless trip packings.

For the first time, I had to bring a reading glass for my trip :|

Oh well.