Croatia travel diary/travelogue

Day 5 - Krka National Park, Sibenik

29th June 2009

Before coming to Croatia, we knew that there were a few spots in the country where we could see dramatic waterfalls. First among those was Plitvice, but we’d also read about Krka’s waterfalls. Although not as numerous as those found in Plitvice, Krka could boast a larger volume of water running over its largest falls at Skradin. It also offered the opportunity to have a swim near the base of the waterfall!

Krka was a little way south of us, a drive once again made very quick by the 130km limit motorway! Almost as soon as we made our way of the motorway, we were at the town of Skradin. We parked a little up the road from the main part of town, saving ourselves the 7kuna/hour car park charges but, alas, because of the longer walk back down we missed the hourly boat by mere minutes. Ah well, you win some, you lose some.

While we waited for the next boat, we studied the local tourist pamphlets and watched the skies, once more expecting rain but, for the time being, experiencing good weather. The weather forecasts of rain, clouds and/or thunder storms were always at the back of our minds whenever we planned a trip somewhere.

When the next boat arrived, we got on fairly quickly and found a decent seat on the top deck (a window seat!), then watched the queue of people snaking back down the jetty, wondering if they would all fit in. It turns out that the boat was some kind of Tardis, though; it was deceptively big.

After a very gentle 20 minute cruise down the river - so slow that the boat barely left any wake, which was almost certainly enforced so as not to harm the vegetation by the river bank - we arrived at the start of the falls circuit, Skradinski Buk. The falls were very impressive indeed, and it became a bit of a tussle at times to get the perfect picture on the walkway, fighting as we were with all the other people who had just been poured out of the boat. The sunlight was on the falls, so we got the pictures we wanted, but a look up the skies showed some dark clouds looming ever closer.

Skradinski Buk, Krka

Krka falls

As we continued further round the circuit - which was laid out on boardwalks - the inevitable happened and it started to rain, spitting at first but eventually coming down quite heavily. There was little cover under the surrounding trees, so everyone got a soaking. Manda had a small umbrella handy, but even with that we were struggling to keep the cold water off us. We decided to make our way back through the quickest route to the boat jetty, but it would still be another 40 minutes until the boat would take us back. The much sought-after top deck seats (no cover) would now be the least sought-after! Thankfully, the boat was waiting at the jetty, so we were able to board early and grab a seat downstairs to take cover from the rain. The return trip was a very different journey to the one we took in, with most people crammed in downstairs, all damp and with none of us bothered about getting a view outside the boat.

When we got back to the car, we took a drive further up river towards Roski Slap, another series of falls shown on the local map. The distance did not seem that great on paper, but with the twisty roads and altitudes we had to climb, it was a longer drive than expected. On the way we came across the island of Visovac, an island that contains just one building. Talk about the perfect getaway!

Visovac Island

We continued on, arriving at Roski Slap by way of a couple of very small bridges over the falls, bridges that did not look like they should support the weight of a car. I was thankful that we only had a little Fiat Punto!

The falls were more like gentle cascades after seeing Skradinski Buk, but still worth a look. The path was a simple loop up one side of the river, across and back again. And no downpours this time! Not only was there less water, there were also far fewer visitors here. I suspect that the drive up limits numbers simply because it’s not really friendly to big vehicles; no coach-loads of tourists here, that’s for sure.

Before heading ‘home’, we stopped off at the town of Sibenik. We’d passed by it just yesterday on the way back from Trogir, but this time we stopped and had a good look around. I could tell that Sibenik had seen the rains earlier, but by the time we got there it was evaporating before our eyes as the sun once more took hold. We parked up right by the waterfront, next to some very nice boats and played the usual mental ‘I wonder what those things are worth?’ game. Croatia really is a great playground for those people rich enough to own such amazing boats. Not that I’m jealous at all. No, of course not. I’m sure the jammy buggers have all worked very hard to get these boats ;-)

There was a lot of activity in the town - it transpired that there was a ‘children’s festival’ taking place, which involved youngsters performing on outdoor stages, singing, doing theatre and so on. We didn’t see any performances, just the crowds of people that were there for the festival.

Not knowing too much about the town, we simply followed our noses - or rather the brown ‘places of historical interest’ signs - and ended up slogging our way up through the town to the old castle. Half way up we were thinking “are we there yet?” and wondering whether to abort mission. Eventually we got to the top and the view over Sibenik made the climb worth the while.

View over Sibenik

Feeling like we’d worked enough for one day, we made the (much easier) walk back down into town, found a pavement-side restaurant and had a late dinner. And, just for a change, I didn’t have pizza!

Sunset in Sibenik

The nice relaxed feeling we had on leaving Sibenik almost evaporated as quickly as the earlier rains as we got back to the car. On each and every car along the street was what appeared to be a parking ticket. I thought for a moment that it might simply be a flyer, but each one was inside a small plastic sleeve, something that I wouldn’t imagine flyers to bother with. Oh crap. Parking ticket .... and to the tune of 400 kuna (about £45).

As we looked at the ticket, a man passing by said something about it being for information. We acknowledged him, as he explained that you cannot park here, before going back to worrying about the ticket. Upon closer inspection, though, none of the details appeared to be filled in. And some sections of the ticket looked to be pre-printed. Was this really a ticket? And then I realised that there was a ‘sash’, an overlaid message running diagonally. Although I could not read what it said, to me it looked like ‘This is a sample’ or something similar. A glimmer of hope - perhaps this was not a real ticket after all? I took the ticket towards the nearby tourist office to ask for help and bumped into the same man again who clarified that this really was for info only. Phew! I have never seen this before - parking attendants who give you a warning first. Perhaps it was because of the festival taking place that they were being nice to visitors. Who knows, but I know we’ll be double-checking parking conditions from now on!