The rental car in Pula didn't exist. We walked around for at least an hour, with our packs, and it was hot, searching for our promised vehicle, to no avail! We ended up giving up and grabbing some lunch. We picked up a tip about a place that was good and not touristy. I think it was called Kantina, but I thought it was pretty good. I ordered the octopus salad and the calamari. Delicious.
We, then, caught a taxi to the airport, because that's where they keep their rental car places. We found the place we had made a reservation and they had no knowledge of our booking, and no cars to lend. Lovely. But, we found a car. A little Volkswagon Up, in red.
With the help of Serena, our British English Garmin guide, we made our way to Grabovac, a small town outside of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Because we used the Garmin, it calculated a route through the Croatian countryside. It was stunning. I think that a car is the best way to see Croatia. But, amidst the beauty I became saddened. There were many homes and buildings that were abandoned, and both the homes and buildings that were abandoned and those being lived in, had holes from bullets. Though Croatia has rebuilt much of their country since their war in the 90's, there are still ways in which the tragedy can be viewed. I felt sad as we drove past homes with people on porches and bullet holes in the sides of the homes. I am lucky that I live in the US where we don't have wars on our soil. I can't imagine what it's like, and I hope I never have to experience that.
The next morning we head off to the national park. Plitvice Lakes is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, if not the most beautiful. The crystal clear, turquoise water flows from falls into pools that house petrified logs and a single type of fish (we think some type of carp). It is amazing that a place like this exists.
From Plitvice Lakes we went in search of the Cerovacke Caves near Gracac. It turns out that Gracac is a very small town. And, in the middle of the day it is empty. We did a round through the town in search of a place to stay, but couldn't find one. We head over to the caves to see what the deal was over there, and the nice girl who worked there knew of someone who rented out rooms. We headed over to Apartman Ana, in a little residential area. Well, just about all of Gracac is residential. I think there were two industrial sites, one I think was a trash processing plant, and the other had something to do with fish. Both were very small. Anyhow, a man and his daughter met us and the daughter spoke English pretty well. The father was super smiley, but spoke little English, which was fine, because we speak very little Croatian. Anyhow, the girl asked where we were from and was very surprised to hear that we were from the United States. She said that they had never had anyone from the US before. Then she was shocked to hear that we were from Los Angeles, and asked what brought us to Croatia. When we told her that we heard that Croatia was beautiful, she was in awe that people from Los Angeles spoke of Croatia. It's amazing how we see Croatia as this beautiful gem yet to be discovered completely by the US, while she is clueless as to why someone from Los Angeles would want to visit her country. It was an interesting exchange, and to see her point of view.
We walked down the street to have a beer. Ojusko seems to be the beer of choice. Most bars and cafes have awnings adorned with the Ojusko sign. We ended up grabbing the dice and playing a round of Farkle. For those of you who don't know the game, it is a game of chance played with dice. That's the short explanation. We drank a lot of beer and eventually Seth won. So, Sloane and I had to take care of the bill. I think it came to about $3 american each. Not bad for 6 large beers.
We eventually made our way to the recommended restaurant where we ordered the massive meat plate. We had no idea it would be as massive as it turned out to be, and the meat was piled atop a mound of french fries. It was so good, but way too much!
After dinner Seth and I went for a walk. As we were walking I suddenly heard a little, "mew!" I stopped, and I heard it again. A kitten! The momma was probably moving the kittens to a new location and we found this one when momma was away. So cute! We pet the kitten for a bit then began to walk away. But, the kitten started mewing and following us! We had to put her back and Seth scared her so she would stay in the bushes and not leave the spot where the momma had left her.
That night we enjoyed the free internet, talked with some family, and went to bed. We didn't sleep too long before we were woken up by tons of dogs barking. That was nice.
The next morning we made our way to the Cerovack Caves, also a UNESCO world heritage sight. The caves were cold and pretty impressive. They were bigger than we had expected.
After the caves we asked Selena (aka Magellan) how to get to Skradin, to see the waterfalls in Krka National Park. Once again, we drove through windy streets to get there, passing through towns that once were and fields that once grew. Skradin is a bustling little tourist town that feeds into Krka National Park. We had a nasty little meal of fake risotto, then hung out to finish the Serious Eats blog post. Seth took a liking to the ice cream shop around the corner from the hotel. He ended up ordering 6 scoops of ice cream that day.
That evening Seth and I went for a little walk around Skradin. We went to the top of the little hill to see the fortress. It allowed us to view the entire little town and the lake and bridge beyond. It was a pretty view at night.
The next morning we hopped on a boat down the river to visit the Roski Slap, which I think means waterfall. It was pretty and we were allowed to swim in the water just beyond the falls. Unfortunately, the weather was not too hot, and the water was a bit crisp. So our time in the water was brief. We stood in the sun to dry (we didn't bring towels) then went for a walk. It was pretty, but I think because we had been to Plitvice a few days before, we were not that impressed.
We made our way back to town so Seth, and Sloane, could get more ice cream, then made our way to Split, Croatia's second largest city. We were not too happy to enter a big city. I think we're going to try to stick to smaller towns throughout our journey. They are much more pleasant. Seth did a great job at navigating throughout Croatia, and did not falter while entering the city. Good job Seth! We found our overpriced, crap hostel and took a walk to the city center. It was crowded, a bit smelly at times, and overpriced. We wanted to find a cheap meal, so we found a chain called Popej, pronounced Popeye and they had a cutout of his likeness. It was horrible. Weird version of kebab, but really bad. I do not recommend.
Then, we bought our ferry tickets to Vis, a small island off Split before Seth and I made our way to the airport to drop off the rental car. That was a pain. Apparently, somewhere along the way someone had opened their car door into our wheel well and made a ity bitty dent. So we got to pay 150 euros for that, lovely.
This morning we woke up and made our way down to the docks to catch our ferry to Vis. Vis is an island that, supposedly, was forbidden to foreigners for about 4 decades. It is out of the way and not very touristy. It is known for it's beaches and diving. Seth and I hope to find a dive shop to check out some scuttled ships and airplanes.