Some day soon we’ll be able to go somewhere more exciting than the supermarket. Some day soon we’ll be able to go further than the end of our street. Until then, I’m travelling in my mind back in time and for P I am revisiting two places that I had just one full day in, but what days they were!
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia: The pictures of this place always tempted me when I picked up my Croatia guide book, they were never near where I was going on that particular visit. The park is not easy to get to without a car, but on my last visit to Croatia, I found out the buses from Zadar to Zagreb (oops – giving you a preview of Z there) stopped at the park. So a visit was added to our itinerary.
We arrived late in the afternoon, visited the park entrance and consulted the map to plan our visit for the next day. Then, after a very early morning alarm, we were back at the entrance and waiting for 7am when the park gates opened (we were not first in the queue).
We knew we had a few hours to enjoy the park in the quiet time before the tour buses arrived somewhere around 10am or 11am, so we wanted to get there as early as possible, and take the boats that link parts of the park across the lakes (there are 16 lakes on various heights across the park). Luckily we did get to experience the quiet of the park, but the park is also so big that even when it was busy, apart from one or two areas, it didn’t take long to get away from people and surround yourself again with 100,000 shades of green and 50,000 shades of blue and aqua.
The water in the lakes is so clear, you can see into the depths (fish, leaves, fallen logs) and looking down at them from on high, the bodies of water are bright and jewel-like, like so many shapes of turquoise, or sapphire or aquamarine.
Admittedly. some of the paths did get a bit busy, and you had to be careful about passing people going the other way as you walked over the water along the slatted wooden walkways (with no handrails – I hope you have a good sense of balance!).
Although it was awkward to get to, and there were limited accommodation and eating options nearby, I don’t regret our little diversion to spend the day at the park. It was so beautiful and good for the soul. And even now, looking back at the photos we took (and we took a lot of photos) I feel happy. Would I go back again? Yes.
Petra, Jordan. An ancient civilisation that carved its buildings from rock. An ancient city that was once home to 30,000 people. That place that featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Whatever your reason for wanting to visit Petra, it’s not a wrong one.
Petra is a big tourist attraction for Jordan and justifiably so. It’s a site that deserves you allocating a good chunk of your time to explore it. Yes, there is the main valley with the Indiana Jones surprise entrance. But there is also an upper city, and some other buildings around. It’s a place to wander and to wonder. The amazing carved frontages of the buildings. The colours of the stone. The size of the buildings and the doorways (were the Nabateans a giant people?) The steepness of the path to the upper city (or maybe that was just me being very unfit).
And like many ancient wonders, this city was abandoned and forgotten by the world until it was rediscovered in the 1800s. It’s probably worth engaging a guide to give you at least some of the history of the site and to point out those little details you may not notice. Like the water catchment system, important in this dry environment.
And while the site of Petra may stretch out and seem huge, only a small part of it has been excavated. It’s estimated that 85% has not been explored yet.
Pondicherry (Puducherry), India I think I saw this in Life of Pi a beautiful Indian city that looked different to any other Indian city and that could be because it was a French trading post in times gone by. Something about the colours, the tropicality and the sea all combined to appeal to me.