I used to be a nature girl. I lived in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and on the Big Island of Hawai’i, both special enclaves of the natural. I hiked, I camped, I kayaked and swam. I took special delight in all of these things. Perhaps not as much delight as others, but it was my own personally lazy brand of joy that I had grown to love.
All of that seemed to change when I began traveling.
As incongruous as it seems, my travel experience hasn’t exactly been a love affair with nature. It’s been more busses than boats, more hotels than hikes, and more casitas than camping. That all changed in Croatia.
Our plan to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park was just that. A plan. A plan at the end of a highway that we picked up in a rental VW in Prague. There had been vague talk of nearby hotels, and even more vague talk of camping, but there was no clear-cut plan either way. The closer we got, the more certain Will seemed that camping was no longer vague and was a viable option. So we stopped at a shopping mall and bought a tent and a few other trappings that were considered disposable enough for a theoretical camping trip.
As we entered the dominion of this sprawling national park and the hordes of people and cars became more and more threatening, I began to seriously inspect the dimensions of the car’s back seat. As we left the car to inquire at the information booth, I shuddered at the signs for bears and wolves, and although I can’t read a speck of Croatian, I was certain that “Beware” must be on that sign somewhere.
The woman at the booth gave us directions to the campsite, and as we made our 8 kilometer way through the throngs of traffic, I was certain the campsite would be full. With these crowds of people, who undoubtedly all had reservations, how could I dare hope there would be a place for us? Will, on the other hand, was brimming with confidence
I have never been more wrong. We pulled into Korana Campground, were quoted a ridiculously low rate, and handed a map. We drove inside, found a nice little spot under a tree in a blissfully uncrowded meadow, and put up the tent. What else did we find? Well, wifi, a coffee shop, a small grocery store with deli, a full restaurant, a grill cafe, and a bar. Yes, a bar. No mind that they don’t sell ice in the grocery, they have a bar. With cold, cold beer. If that’s not enough, there are clean toilets and large rooms with multiple private showers that also offer dish sinks. And did I mention the wifi?
So, under the trees and gorgeous stars, with a sleepy belly full of grilled meat and beer, I camped in Croatia.
And not only did I get my nature back, I realized that it’s okay to hope that things will work out. And to trust my husband. But let’s just keep that between us.
Click here for more information about Plitvice Lakes National Park and Korana Campground.
Click here for more photos of Plitvice Lakes on our Facebook page!
Well and humorously written!
Jeannine Thigpen says
Camping is so fun and romantic. I grew up camping in the redwood forests of northern California, I would love to try camping in other parts of the world. Well written Cate!