Balkans Road Trip 2018 - Part 8 - Split, Diocletian's Palace & Hvar Island
Balkans Road Trip 2018 - Part 10 - Closing thoughts

Balkans Road Trip 2018 - Part 9 - Krka National Park, Rakovica, Dreznik, & Rastoke

Part 1. Part 2, Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7. Part 8. & Part 10.

It was super easy to check out of our rooms in Split. We had a bit of a challenge at navigating out of Split - but mainly due to driving in an unfamiliar city and a nutty GPS. We wanted to go to Krka National Park on our way to Rakovica.

Parking is free, but there is an entrance fee to get in. There is no car access, instead they load you in buses. We opted instead to walk down.


We enjoyed being outside, and as we descended towards the lake we got some interesting views.


Then you do have an option to buy tickets for the ferry ride which we didn't do as we didn't have time. Instead keep going left and eventually you will reach a part of the park where you can walk on walk ways... (There is also a WC, and a place to grab something to eat.)


The guide books and forums do warn that this does start to get crowded. So it is advisable to get there early. Here is a photo of the walkway... the longer we stayed the more crowded it became.


It was very pretty, and photogenic...




I found the water and waterfalls very photogenic.





The water was a beautiful turquoise and crystal clear...


We enjoyed a rather nice lunch at the restaurant in the park. And then because we were feeling lazy we waited for the bus to take us back to the entrance and parking lot. I do recommend Krka National Park. It is not far from Split, and would make a good day trip if you use Split as a base. I recommend you give yourself the whole day to explore. And get there early before the tour groups arrive. Again, we needed to leave a place that we would've wanted to explore further. However, we needed to press on.

I had booked a single night in the little town of Rakovica, at the Rooms Mirabella.


I chose this because it was cheap, and close to Plitvice National Park. Our GPS guided us to Mirabella. Our host's mother was there to meet us. She was a nice lady who spoke no English (she spoke German and Croatian.) She showed us to our room, and gave us some coffee and cookies. Mirabella is in a small farm - with an orchard and a meadow with a herd of deer.


Rakovica is one of many small rural villages in this area. The countryside is gorgeous - narrow country lanes, and rolling hills.


There were a lot of signs for rooms available. Clearly many folks use these areas for an overnight stay so that they can visit Plitvice. I found this area so pretty and interesting, I think it should be visited for its own sake. In fact we got so distracted ambling around that we ended up not visiting Plitvice at all.

I had the best lamb chops of the trip at restaurant Marko, nearby.


There are clearly marked bicycle routes through the beautiful countryside.

We even came across some cows...


We stopped by a cemetery with views of the valley.


With a beautiful church nearby...


We decided after reading some materials left in our rooms at Mirabella to visit the old town of Dreznik. An old castle which had been destroyed had been reconstructed. From 1323 - 1592 the Frankopans of Krk ruled the city. From 1592 - 1788 the Turks seized Dreznik, ending with its liberation from Turk rule. In 1791 under the Treaty of Sistova, Dreznik returned to the Habsburg Crown.


And more ruins...


We passed farmers fields with hale bales with this hawk perched on one.


I managed to capture him taking off...


Beautiful farmers fields of hay...


We really enjoyed exploring the area around Rakovica. So much so that we had left no time to visit Plitvice. We decided that we would save Plitvice for a return visit.

We decided to stop off at the little town of Rastoke. We had a pleasant visit walking around and taking photos.






Then Kevin wanted to find a Spomenik in a forest called Petrova Gora. We did use the GPS and the forest reminded us of Colorado.


We eventually turned back without visiting it. We think that the GPS lost its signal and sent us off in the opposite direction. We did manage to see it from afar. The monument is now being used to house cell phone and other communication antenna.


We were quite convinced that we were on the wrong road heading in the wrong direction...


It was beautiful to be in these forests. But it wasn't busy. We saw very few other cars driving around.

Here's a view of one of the many Croatian highways. As you can it is a good road, and is well signposted.


Our hotel, Best Western Stella was a hotel in Zagreb by the airport. We had a flight early the next morning to Frankfurt to catch our flight home to Denver. The plan was to drop our car off at the airport the next morning. For our last night in Croatia we found a restoran called Hrasce nearby our hotel. It was somewhat confusing to get to, but thank goodness for GPS. It was a modest restaurant, but the food was delicious. It also helped that we decided to have an early dinner so at least we could drive when it wasn't so dark.

It is ironic that I had to wait until the end of the trip to have the best lamb. It was delicious - so sweet and succulent, just as I remembered it!