Leaving the iconic thermal baths and beautiful architecture of Budapest behind, we set off early on Day 8 of our Busabout Eastern European Trek to make our way to a brand new country. That country was Croatia…
Dubbed by many as an up and coming summer holiday destination, I was eager to see this place before the secret got out. It wasn’t a place I’d ever considered visiting until I saw the itinerary for this trip, so as I was lacking in knowledge about this country I decided a bit of research was in order. I was pleasantly surprised to discover Croatia is a country full of fascinating history, amazing culture and natural beauty. In particular, the stunningly beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park caught my eye, which happened to be first on our list of things to see and do in Croatia. But, not before we settled into our accommodation for the night that is.
That night, we stayed in a campsite outside of the national park in 2-bed wooden huts. They we’re extremely basic with communal shower blocks near by, but that didn’t matter. I relished being outdoors and in the picturesque countryside after a week of visiting cities. It was up there with one of my favourite nights of the whole trip too, as we prepared a group BBQ and shared some very questionable Croatian spirits as the sun set around us.
Keen to sample local delicacies we picked up a couple of bottles of Plum Rakia and Medica (honey) Brandy – both popular in the Balkans, Croatia and Slovenia – before getting ready for a group BBQ outside our huts.
There we were, a group of travellers brought together from all over the world on this amazing trip enjoying our incredible surroundings, munching on some good grub and supping on an oh so sickly sweet spirit – needless to say the night quickly turned into a festivity of laughs and silliness, including a lot of planking in the woods. Madness.
I’m unsure of how that night ended, but I’m pretty sure it ended well. The following morning I was woken up by the beaming Croatian sun, and quickly had to address my hangover as there was no rest for me that day. We were off again, off to see Plitvice Lakes, and I was excited.
Proudly renowned as the oldest National Park in southeast Europe and the biggest in Croatia, we entered Plitvice Lakes National Park keen to see what lay ahead.
Reaching the lakes, we were greeted with the bluest water I have ever seen and it was truly memorizing! As the days heat began to ramp up, I wandered around the park occasionally daydreaming about cannon-balling into the lakes – I think that would have ruined the wonderful ambience just a tad though. Such a shame. Never in my life has water looked so appetising.
Immersed in the lakes were tiered mini waterfalls and some bigger ones too, making for a very unique yet beautiful landscape. Surrounded by luscious greenery and lots of secret caves, we explored the park for a few wonderfully peaceful hours that morning, but it was always the blue, blue water that remained the main attraction. In a world full of pollution and decay, it’s comforting to know that places of unimaginable natural beauty like Plitvice Lakes National Park are being looked after.
After a quick lunch and a last look at the crystal blue water, we hopped back on the Busabout bus one last time to head for our final stop of the trip, Split. Driving through Croatia as we made our way to the coast, the landscape changed from green and mountainous to dry, sandy and hot, so it was once again pleasant to see some blue water, but this time in the form of the Adriatic Sea.
Split is second-largest city in Croatia and full of Roman treats, from Dioceltian’s Palace to the ancient ruins of Solin – if you love your Roman history, this is the place for you. The Dalmatia coast is also famed for sailing excursions to the many of the nearby islands, with some boats offering trips south to the city of Dubrovnik, another Croatian must-visit.
Unfortunately for me, I was only in Split for a couple of hours before catching my flight home, but I saw enough to know I would love to come back some day. I did get time to enjoy some local fried calamari before I left though, and it was delicious!
So there you have it… my 9 days in Eastern Europe on a Busabout tour complete! There was gothic Prague and an equally gothic bone church, lots of vodka and cheese in Poland, an incredible tank ride in Slovakia, bathing in Budapest and of course, beautiful Croatia and it’s stunning National Park… what more could you possibly want on a summer excursion?
Although this trip was over a year ago now, I’ve loved reliving those wonderful memories through my blog posts, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them too! Better still, I hope I’ve encouraged you to visit these amazing countries too!