Confession: I find humor in being negative. So when you watched this video, please understand that while I’m very open about what I don’t like and find annoying, I’m not actually UPSET about the majority of things I complain about here or anywhere else. As my best friend in elementary school once said, “But I really like complaining. It’s fun!”
Which is why editing and watching this video has made me feel really positive about my experience at Plitvice Lakes. If I hadn’t had that crappy experience I wouldn’t have had this video to laugh at later. To be honest, it was worth it!
Plitvice Lakes National Park was the key place I was thinking of when I wrote this previous entry about wanderbust, a term I coined to call out those times when you’re underwhelmed by a destination you were previously really excited about. Ever since seeing Rick Steve’s visit the lakes on his show, I really wanted to see them for myself. And as you can tell, I was disappointed.
It wasn’t that I didn’t find the lakes beautiful. The lakes are of various colors of blue, green, and azure and the water is so clear that you will constantly see schools of fish swimming by you. The problem with Plitvice has nothing to do with the land at all. The park provides easy to understand guides, moderate hikes (almost no hills), and a regular shuttle that will take you to different parts of the lake. Honestly, the people at the park aren’t doing anything wrong.
However, despite that the park is well designed, the trails are too narrow to accommodate the insane amount of visitors who come there daily. If you are not beginning your hike in the early morning, expect massive crowds on the trail as early as 10 a.m. (which is when I visited.) Worst of all are the paths that cross over the water. These walkways are made of plaques of wood which would otherwise be fine except for two things. 1) They get wet and are slippery. 2) You have to share this narrow path, with water on either side of you, with tons of other people. You can imagine this is a bit anxiety inducing, but for me this was especially scary because I have a hip impingement and kept worrying I might lose my balance and fall in the water. The paths also get backed up from people taking pictures and, unlike a normal hiking trail, you cannot simply pass the people in front of you because that would mean willingly walking into a lake. Instead you have to wait until everyone is finished taking pictures with their iPads. It’s frustrating and makes you feel powerless. I haven’t felt that irritated since I got stuck in my last Los Angeles traffic jam. Except that you don’t willingly give someone money to hang out in an L.A. traffic jam, nor do you tell yourself to enjoy the experience and stop cursing throughout – you’re in your car, alone, you can do whatever you want.
I realized that I was doing myself and everyone no service by staying at Plitvice any longer. I had to get out. In fact, I essentially ran from the place. I was only there for an hour and a half, because the buses back to Zagreb were so infrequent that I had to take an earlier one or else I’d have to stay at the park for another 4 hours which I wasn’t willing to do.
The good thing is that I was never so happy to see Zagreb. I happily strolled all over the city taking photos and treated myself to a delicious vegan, gluten free dinner.
So what can you take away from this story? If like me you cannot take crowds but really want to see Plitvice, then I recommend staying overnight at Plitvice so you can hit the trails early, like 6 a.m. or 7, to avoid the crowds. A friend of mine did this and he had a way better experience than I did. I hope you do too. The lakes are beautiful and you deserve to enjoy them!