On the way south heading towards the coast we drove through Karlovca, a war torn village left scarred after the fighting in the 1990's. Probably one of the most damaged areas in this region, which is only a stone’s throw away from the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The weather was dreadful which made the bullet holed houses look all the more sobering as you imagined the locals trying to carry on their daily lives under such dreadful conditions. But we stopped in Turanj, on the outskirts, and wandered around the large open air type museum filled with tanks, armoured personal carriers, field guns and even a Mig fighter jet.
Our next stop was Rastoke, a fascinating small town with a difference.
Two major rivers met at the lower part of the town and literally flow right through it. It had rained heavily the previous couple of days so water levels were very high and it all looked quite spectacular.
Well described as the 'watermill village’, the use of the river to power the water wheels and flour mills dates back many centuries. And the construction of these houses which are partly submerged is also unique to this region. The lower part of the houses is built from ‘travertine’, a form of limestone, and the upper part of wood and wooden shingle roofs.
We were greeted at our new accommodation in Rakovica, by a delightful older Croatian woman, I'm sure she couldn't speak a word of English or understand any, but she couldn't have been happier or more helpful. Even before we had the car unpacked she had the Schnapps bottle out, pouring us a shot and after much hilarity and sign language tucked it under our arms to take with us suggesting that it may be good for a ‘romantic’ night!!!
Greeted with Schnapps in Rakovica
Then even escorted us to the local village shop, that was only
We've been so impressed by the friendliness of the locals and even if their English isn't great, its a whole lot better than our Croatian, they soon find somebody to help us. Nothing is too much of a problem and they never seem tire of tourist like us asking silly questions.
Entrance to Barac Caves
The Barac Caves were only a couple of few miles up the road so we attempted a visit but being winter time everything was both closed and underwater.
Next stop was the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park, considered to be one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. It covers over 300sq kms of woodland and is home to some wonderful wildlife like bears, wolves, deer, wild pigs and many rare birds - none for us to spot in this weather!
We saw a tiny part
There are 16 stunning lakes connected by caves, cascades, natural dams and waterfalls. Water was flowing over the wooden foot bridges that follow the rumbling waters for over 18kms - sadly we only managed a few kms because of the weather. But being right at the waters edge meant you were sometimes under waterfalls or even in amongest them.
Stunning Plitvice Lakes
Even with all the rain still beautiful colours
The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. But with all the rain that had fallen in the previous days, and continued to do so while we were there, we were treated more to a variety of specatucular raging waterfalls. David Lines and a couple of enthusiastic young tourists were not deterred by the wet and made it to the top of the 78metre main waterfall - an amazing sight.
A stunning place and well worth taking three or four hours to wander along the tracks, take the ferry across one of the larger lakes and explore further.