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  • Day31

    Zagreb and Slunj

    October 14, 2018 in Croatia ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    We have arrived at Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. As we approached, the city city was under a haze of smog. Our hotel is on the right but no where to park. MDW says do a lap round the block which I start doing and around the back of the hotel MDW spots the parking area. After pushing the intercom we are let in and park in our allocated spot. Checkin is easy and looks like we have chosen well, Best Western Astoria. Our room is great, even a kettle and fridge, but we need milk. The supermarket is down the road near the train station. We get to the train station and MDW says that looks like a train station to me, not a supermarket. I say Google says it is 10 meters away. I have a look at the street view and it showed the railway station building. The supermarket was underground. We find it, not really a supermarket but a corner store. We grab a few supplies including milk and wait in line to pay. The checkouts had long queues with some of the older Croatian women pushing in whilst we patiently waited our turn to be served. Our groceries paid for we walk back to the hotel, right past a corner store which would have had the supplies we needed. Kettle boiled, tea made, I pour the milk. It is in the usual green plastic bottle but it comes out a bit thick and blobs around the cup as it separates from the hot tea. I check the expiry and all is ok so I smell it. Pew, it was pungent. Must be off, then I see the label says “Kefir”. It’s a cultured milk drink. Can’t imagine it would be very nice. Off to the closer corner store where I get some miljeko (it’s obviously milk) and we are able to get our tea levels in balance again.
    Zagreb has an older centre not far from the hotel, lots of museums and a huge area of flower markets and fruit and vegetable markets. There were also regular markets but they were starting to close down when we came across them, MDW was disappointed. Also lots of outdoor cafe and restaurant seating. As we were walking away from the market area a lady asks if we want to buy some perfume, Chanel and some other famous brand. They were in sealed boxes, looked genuine, they were parfume, not Eau de Perfume. 700 kunas for two, about $145 Australian. MDW asks if she can have smell of them but “no no no no” so we walk away. This lady is very persistent and places the two boxes in MDWS arms. “How mush you pay” she asks. I say “we are not interested, try some one else” but she focuses on MDW who doesn’t know what to do. “How much you pay lady” as we have now walked 50 meters away from the original selling point. The price is now 200 kunas which is about $42. I tell her firmly to stop annoying us and suggest it is not genuine. The lady is starting to become aggressive but I drag MDW away who thinks it might have been the cheapest perfume she would ever buy. I suspect it wasn’t genuine or it was stolen or just full of water. Otherwise she would have let MDW have a sample. She made out she was going to open the box but I was worried once opened we had committed to buy. So No Sale!
    We sat down to have drink and there was only local beer available. I asked for the lightest ale that was cold and was told they know just the beer for me. Out comes a bottle of “America’s Pale Ale”. It was disgusting, so bad I couldn’t drink it all. The taste remained with me for hours. Later we found a promising restaurant which sold schnitzel. First we had drinks and watched some men clean up the market square with brooms that looked like witches brooms. They madly swept and stacked the tables which they must do with every market day.
    MDW’s schnitzel arrived just like the original schnitzels used to be before the crumbed Chechen breast became a schnitzel in Australia. This schnitzel was as thin as cardboard making it tender and delicious.
    After a lovely breakfast we packed the car and headed towards our accommodation near Plitvice Lakes. We soon came to the toll gates so I pulled up to the machine before the boom gate and press the button for my ticket. Nothing comes out. I press it again and again, still nothing. We now have a few cars with unhappy drivers honking their horns whilst I get out of the car looking for assistance. Eventually someone comes over and opens up a cabinet and presses some buttons on a keypad. A ticket comes out and we are on our way and now with some distance between us and the angry mob that were lined up behind us.
    On the way we drove through a town called Turanj, near Karlovac which had several houses that were coved in bullet holes. Apparently from the “homeland wars”. A reminder of the conflicts of the past, MDW said she hopes our hotel looks better.

    Our hotel is in a town called Slunj. Not sure how you pronounce it but the hotel is great, big room with fridge, great staff. Our room was fairly warm so when the air conditioning wasn’t working we followed the usual procedure of asking reception to change the settings for us. They tried but as they had switched over to winter mode only heating was available. The offered us a fan which made all the difference and helped dry a few clothes that MDW had hand washed. We drove the 3 km to a nearby supermarket for milk, bread, tomato, cheese and fruit. Google said there was congestion ahead and the 3km trip would take 15 minutes. Sure enough we came to a stand still, must be a lot of people going to the supermarket. We eventually get to the supermarket although the traffic congestion was still ahead of us when MDW told me when to turn which I did but somehow I managed to be driving against the traffic in the car park. I quickly exited and got back on the road and tried again. This time I ended up in a disabled parking spot, oh dear this is not good. Fortunately the car next to me was leaving so I backed out and took their spot. In the store was a bakers so we thought we would buy fresh bread. The customer ahead bought a loaf and asked for it to be sliced so the lady got a knife and hacked 3” thick slices for her. The customer was happy, must have a good thick slice toaster although toast does not seem to be on their menu. We just bought 1 loaf which when we sliced it was yellow inside. Still tasted like bread, just a bit yellow.
    For dinner we went to the hotel restaurant which was overflowing with guests. The hotel manager offered us a seat in the coffee shop which we happily accepted. We placed our orders but were told it would take a while as it was family day. Family day is when Plitvice Lakes reduces their entrance fee from 150 to 50 kunas. It attracts many thousands of Croatians, especially when the weather is nice. So many people went, the lakes became overcrowded and made the visit not worth while. (This is what the hotel manager told us). We asked if Monday would be a good day to visit, “yes” he said, “it’s full price”. Our traditional Croatian meat dinner arrived, MDW had pork and I had lamb. Both very nice but I feel there has been a lack of vegetables with our meals, potato, chips or rice the only accompaniment. MDW doesn’t miss broccoli.
    The hotel is so good and we are not sure how we will pull up after our visit the Plitvice Lakes tomorrow we book another night.

    Next morning we get up early hoping to miss the crowds and the afternoon rain that was forecast and get an early breakfast. Well the breakfast area was full but our table was reserved with our room number on it. We have a look at our options and MDW says you want vegetables, well here they are. Yes I could have had broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini for breakfast but I settle for toast and bacon whilst MDW had her staple of toast and honey. From the coffee machine I got a cappuccino but it tasted like hot chocolate. MDW said it tasted like coffee and chocolate combined. I drank it and had another go at the machine. What I had had was a cocoa drink, I pressed the wrong button. I need my eyes tested.
    With our backpack filled with water, coats and umbrellas we drove to Plitvice Lakes. Arriving about 9am we got a nearby car park, bought our tickets and got to the start of Route B. We were standing on the top with a view of the waterfalls and lakes. It was also a long way down which meant it was going to be a long way up. The path is good although at times narrow which makes passing people taking selfies difficult. I think MDW was tempted at times to shove some in the water. When we were doing our walk there were hundreds of tourists yet at its peak over 7000 a day so it was a quiet day. On busy days it would be just annoying and probably not worth the visit. Most of the visitors today were 60+, not many young people at all. By mid October it is usually cold and wet but we were doing the walk in summer clothing although everyone else appeared rugged up. Again the weather has been unseasonably warm and dry and kind to us. Have a look at images of Plitvice Lakes on the internet, they are better than what we took with the iPhone. Route B included an electric boat ride and a train journey before the final walk. I thought MDW was amazing with her little legs leaving me behind at times. It was about a 5km walk but a lot of downhill and uphill. Reaching the end was fulfilling, very pleased we came. The remainder of the day will be kicking back and relaxing.
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