Chihiro's friend Kayla has been teaching English in Hungary this year, and another friend came from Chicago to visit so we all went to Zagreb to hang out together. Rebecca, Chihiro and I took the overnight bus and stayed in the House Hostel, where Kent and I stayed last Christmas. It is the greatest hostel on the planet. I love that place. The people who work at the desk are so kind and hospitable, and speak excellent English. We arrived at 6am, and they let us put our luggage in the storage room, eat breakfast and nap on the couches even though we weren't booked to check in until 2pm that afternoon! If you ever go to Zagreb, definitely stay in this hostel. They have a few private rooms, but the dorm we stayed in was only 12 Euros per bed and was extremely clean and enjoyable. Chihiro shared a bunk with an adorable Japanese girl named Saiko who was traveling Europe solo; she's a jewelry designer in Japan and wanted to see the jewelry of different cultures and attend jewelry conventions in Europe for inspiration. We met an American named John who works for an oil company in Equatorial Guinea one month on, one month off, and he was in Zagreb on his way to Paris and back to Texas. We also met a cyclist named Asa, he graduated Harvard with a degree in English literature and decided to use the prize money he won in an essay contest to bike around Europe for 8 months. I've always met the most interesting and friendly people in that hostel, last time we met a British banker and an Australian economics student who were so fun to spend time with.
I visited Plitvice Lakes for a second time on this trip, and it was totally worth paying summer tourist prices to do the same thing again. Those lakes are incredible!! I could go for a third time and be happy with the investment. The water is so clear and beautifully blue, and the sound of the falls is calming after life in the city for so long. The neighborhood I live in, Otes, is fairly close to rural farms and is at the edge of Sarajevo, but I spend enough time on the trams and busses to forget about that.
When I visited last winter the bus and boat were not running, so this time I was able to enjoy more of the scenery.
The bus takes you to the highest point of the park, and you wind your way down through the lakes and falls for about an hour and a half before coming to a dock on one of the lakes. There's a little boat with bench seats facing out to enjoy the scenery from that takes you across the largest lake, and there's another hour or two of hiking until you reach the end of the trail. There's a few different trail options, but we did the 4-6 trail that included the bus and boat rides so we got the most of our 80 kuna entry fee.
The bus ride from Zagreb is about 2.5 hours by bus, and luckily because it's the summer there were a lot of busses running. We were able to spend about 6 hours at the park, it was a beautiful, refreshing day.