Monday 12th September 2022
Monday dawned with clear blue skies and the September sun struggling to climb over the horizon, like a teenager getting up on a school day! We were up early as we joining the camp excursion into the Krka National Park. There were 15 of us in the minibus, with the four dogs perched on strategically placed towels – we had been told to give the guide a HRK20 tip at the end of the tour in lieu of a charge for the dogs.
Off we rattled at a breakneck speed to our first stop, the lakes and waterfalls. These again are a chain of travertine (tufa) lakes and cascades, similar to those we saw at Plitvice. This time it took us only 90 minutes to see them all as there are fewer of them. The crowning glory was Skradinski Buk waterfall, which is over 800m long. However it was struggling to look impressive in the current drought. It was also the site of almost the first hydroelectric scheme in the world, losing out by two days to Tesla’s Niagara Falls scheme by two days in 1895. But it did mean that Sibenik was one of the first towns in the world to have electric street lights. The first electric turbines were based on the horizontal cup technology that we had seen in Koruna, powering the flour and sawmills.
Just as we left the waterfalls, Wendy spotted a chap wearing a Fireball t shirt. It turned out that he and his crew were Czech Fireball sailors, so Andy went up and introduced himself and they all agreed to meet in Slovenia next year!
We were back at the coach stop just in time to meet up with our guide, but he wasn’t there! He had joked that he was going for a sleep, had he over slept? As we waited, coach after coach arrived, disgorging tourists in their scores. Our early start made good sense as we felt we had the park to ourselves.
Twenty minutes late, our guide appeared with Mr Campsite Owner, in two different minibuses. While we were enjoying the delights of the Krka waterways, our original bus had developed problems with its automatic gearbox and so between them an emergency plan was in place. We used the opportunity to jump into Mr CO’s smaller minibus with a jolly Dutch couple and so avoid a particularly annoying, barking, bearded collie belong to some Germans.
And so it was a drive deeper into the National Park. This is karst scenery, limestone country, where the plateau is pierced by deep gorges, carved by rivers old and new. We stopped a couple of times to see the Kljucica gorge near to where a German film company had filmed a ‘western’, trying to cash in on the ‘spaghetti western’ boom of the 60s and 70s; then the Visovac monastery on an island in the middle of lake Visovac. Before arriving at Roski Slap for lunch. We had been promised a ‘picnic lunch’, but after a long morning, this felt like a banquet. Baskets of bread, were accompanied by plates of salads, cheeses and hams and beer and wine. It was like a Redwall party (that’s for Tom Foz if he is watching?) More bread was delivered and then came the brandy! “Would you like cherry, plum or walnut brandy?” It would be rude not to try all three; so what was the winner?
It was the walnut! Andy said it reminded him of Torres Diaz, a famous Mallorcan brandy, and who was I to argue?
To show my appreciation, I bought a bottle. For only €10. (€10 seems to be a standard charge, whether it is for extra virgin olive oil, brandy or for anything else a wayside stall is selling.) The bottle is in the fridge, and if all goes to plan, it won’t last until we return to the UK – sorry folks!
Fully refuelled and fizzing with walnut brandy we waved adieu to Roski Slap and headed for the Krka Monastery. This was a fascinating place; a Serbian Orthodox monastery and school (for 15 to 20 year-olds), based on a Byzantine church that was built over Roman era catacombs used by early Christians when Christianity was persecuted by the Romans. Following a tour of the monastery that didn’t overstay its welcome, we were back in the minibuses for the journey south, back to the campsite. All in all a brilliant eight hours that had given us a much better insight into the National Park than we could possibly have achieved on our own.
Gastronomically, the best was yet to come. We decided to show our appreciation of Mr and Mrs CO’s efforts by eating at their restaurant. Another treat! The four of us decided to have the meat platter (we were only able to finish all four portions thanks to Andy’s sterling, trencherman efforts) washed down with locally made red and white wine.