Sveti Petar Beach, Croatia

An odd story about our one night in Sveti Petar on the Dalmatian Coast.

After our hot, sweaty day of hiking at the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park, we are happily on our way to Zadar, a city on the Dalmatian coast. We were looking forward to a much needed refreshing shower and a little sightseeing, but as luck would have it, everything is booked out.  Not a single room available in the entire city!

So we calmly (not really!) sat in the bar drinking a beer we did not want in order to have internet to book a room which apparently did not exist.  Croatia wake up!  Open your houses! Make money!  

Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia

Everything you need to know about Plitvice Lakes in one little blog!

I can not stress hard enough, make sure you book your hotel according to one of the Plitvice entrances, not the national park, otherwise you will need a long drive to get to the park.  It is a whopping almost 300 square kilometre forest reserve.  We booked a nice place, Guesthouse Samolov, which was only a 1/2 hour drive from entrance.

There are no gas stations in the immediate area, so make sure you have tanked before venturing into no man’s land!

We arrived at the park entrance 1 by 10:15 am. Finding a parking spot was extremely difficult as there is not an organised parking lot, rather there is parking all throughout the bush.

After finally finding a spot to park and hoping we will find it again, we hike out of the parking to the park entrance and get into an enormous line up. The line barely moves and it gradually grows a long winding human trail all the way to the road! Online tickets might be a wonderful solution! Or more entrances, or more ticket booths…?

At 12:01 pm we were finally allowed to pay our entrance. Cost 360 kuna / €48.50 for 2 adults and one dog. Our dog Fritz is with us; dogs are allowed, but must remain on a leash.

We decided on hiking the A trail due to the time of day and the pounding heat.    We had a backpack along with water, fruit and a dog bowl so Fritz can have water too.  It is a sunny, hot, 44 degrees celsius, probably not the best day to be out hiking.

One word pretty much sums up the  view of this national park – Beautiful!  There are so many waterfalls everywhere you look.  The water color is an incredible turquoise blue – it simply does not look natural or real, but it is!

The area is lacking sun sheltered rest areas; in this heat it has a highly dangerous heat stroke potential.  Admittedly, the high temperatures are not the norm, but rest areas would still be nice.  People sit on the bridges and block the paths trying to take breaks.  There are non stop lines of people, not peaceful like you might picture. I would love to return in the spring when there are less people and stronger water falls.

When we reached the part of the hike where A meets B, there was once again a huge waiting line which went all the way back into the bush.  Why a another waiting line?  This is where you catch the boat to get across the lake.  We had already decided we were not going to have any part of that.  Fritz had a little swim and we carried on.

We also avoided going into Hollow Cave, once again because of the huge line of people slowly making their way into the entrance and climbing the steep stairs to the upper lake area.

By 3 pm we were back at the park entrance and I was more than ready to leave!  What lesson did I learn today?  Do not ever go to a popular tourist attraction in high season on the hottest day of the year!

What you need to know about Plitvice Lakes National Park

Parking: cost 35 kuna / €4.75 / US$5.60

Wait time (high season): approximately 2 hours

*Entrance Fee:
Adult – 180 kuna / €24.25 / US$29
Child – 80 kuna / €10.80 / US$12.90
Student – 110 kuna / €14.80 / US$17.70
Dogs – free – must be leashed at all times

*Interesting to know, a note at the admission booth stated the following:  “Guests who are staying in one of the hotels of the National park (hotel Jezero, Plitvice, Bellvue, and Grabovac) should buy one day ticket, which can be prolonged, for free, at reception for next days.”  This is good to know BEFORE you find parking, walk to the park and wait in a line up!  You are welcome!

Hiking:  The park entrance 1 displays 4 sightseeing programs.
A  – takes approximately 2 to 3 hours; 3.5 km / 2.17 miles; lower lakes only.  Easy, but involves up hill walking.
B  – 3 to 4 hours; 4 km / 2.4 miles; includes a boat ride (with a huge waiting line in high season). Easy, involves uphill walking
C  – 4 to 6 hours; 8 km / 5 miles;includes a boat ride (with a huge waiting line in high season) Medium
K1 – 6 to 8 hours; 18.3 km / 11.3 miles. Difficult
Park entrance 2:
E  – 2 to 3 hours; 5.2 km / 3.23 miles – Upper lakes; easy
F  – 3 to 4 hours; 4.6 km / 2.86 miles – Boat; easy
H  – 4 to 6 hours; 8.9 km / 5.53 miles – Medium
K2 – 6 to 8 hours; 18.3 km / 11.37 miles – Difficult

Zagreb Croatia for Beginners

This capital city to Croatia offered us a rude awakening and some wonderful food!  Next stop, Zagreb.

It is a another sunny and hot Thursday and the temperatures are hovering around 38 degrees celsius.  Our last stop was Keszthely, Lake Balaton, Hungary and now, a short 75 km later we arrive at the Croatian border; it is 11:11 am.

We were pulled out at the border, assumedly because I am Canadian; within a painless 5 minutes of some questions and a passport check, they let us go again. A short distance down the road we had to take a toll ticket for highway use, which will be paid when exiting the road.  The final cost for the toll was €6.41.

By 12:30 pm we already arrived at our prebooked apartment. We phoned the guy who was listed as the contact, and then the problems started.  If you want to read about where NOT to stay, read my review.

Cut to downtown Zagreb. We were desperately trying to find a place to park, but could not understand the system, largely because everything was in Croatian. A nice guy sees us trying to figure it out and immediately stepped in to help. So nice when you realize there are still good people out there!  Basically, different colored parking zones indicate whether you can park as well as indicating various price levels.  You find a ticket machine, buy your amount of time and place it in the windshield.  Ticket machines are sometimes hiding ?.

We immediately set about finding a place to try some traditional Croatian food.  Almost immediately we stumbled on Gostionica Restoran Purger – you can read my review by clicking the name.  After lunch, we went to do some sightseeing.

Sights of interest / Must see in Zagreb:
– Republic of Croatia / Marshal Tito Square
–  Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography
– Museum of Arts and Crafts
– National Theater
– Roosevelt Square
– Mimara Art Museum

Now I will venture to say, we probably missed a lot of great sights, and our time was far too short.  In above list is what we managed to fit in before hurrying our way out of the city.

3 pm, full bellies, once again in the car, exiting friendly Zagreb, destination Plivitza / Plitviče Lakes National Park. We have possibly spoke with the one and only asshole in Zagreb when we tried to get check in to our pre-booked apartment – thank goodness we met so many nice people.

Back on the highway, we pull another toll ticket. which costs us 73 kunas / €9.85 exiting the highway.  What are we learning?  Highway tolls add up very quickly.

After almost 2 hours of driving, we arrived at our accomodation for the night, Guesthouse Samolov, just 30 minutes drive from Plitvice / Plivitza.

Tomorrow, Plitviče Lakes National Park!!!


Guesthouse Samolov, Plitvice Park, Croatia – a Review

Independent Motel Guesthouse Review

Name: Guesthouse Samolov
Address:  19B, 53223, Gornje Vrhovine, Croatia

Desperately needing a room after our Zagreb lodging fiasco, we found a guesthouse on close to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.  Although we had not intended on visiting the forest reserve so early, we rolled with the punches and changed our plans.  Read about Zagreb, what to see and do.

We pulled in late afternoon and our hosts rolled out the red carpet! Such a wonderful, welcoming family. They sat with us at a huge al fresco table so we could complete check in.  All at once a tray with coffee, juice, water and nibbles arrived and we all proceeded to chat amiably as we sipped away on refreshments – a true country welcome!

Gostionica Restoran Purger – a Review

Independent Restaurant Review

Restaurant Name: Gostionica Restoran Purger
Address:  Petrinjska ul. 33, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

Looking for a place to eat serving traditional Croatian food, we quite by accident found Gostionica Purger.  We were hot and hungry, had our dog along and were wandering the streets of Zagreb when we spotted a simple restaurant accompanied by an inviting little patio with comfy looking chairs.

A dog bowl filled with water magically appeared immediately on our arrival, along with welcomes and smiles. We sat on the empty outside terrace (probably empty because of the heat); inside was full!  The waiters were traditionally dressed in white shirts, black vest and black slacks which I thought was a very nice touch.

We ordered the following:
– ICE coffee
– Beer house draft – Ozujsko Pivo
– Hashed Meat Dumplings / Ćevapčići na žaru 58 kuna / €7.83
– Mixed Grill / Miješano meso na žaru 105 kuna / €14.20

As soon as we ordered food, two tables were set up with white table cloths, cloth napkins and flatware!

OMG! Amazingly delicious. Hand cut fries, fried to perfection; meat barbecued with real full BBQ flavor. The Mixed Grill was a variety of BBQ meats with Cevapcici, pork chop, lamb, beef and pork loin.

When my coffee was empty, a big glass of ice water appeared, without asking for it!

The staff was excellent; observant, friendly, professional.
Our bill came to a total of 204.00 kuna / €27.54.  Expensive, but not for what you got.

Would I eat here again?  Yes!!! When can we go?
Dog Friendly?  Yes

Negative:  Shows they have internet, but it did not work.  Internet is so important when traveling…

Gostionica Restoran Purger
Petrinjska 33, 10000 Zagreb
Tel: +385(0)1 4810713

Open:  Monday to Saturday: 7:00 am to 11:00 pm

Where NOT to stay overnight when in Zagreb.