Even good things must come to an end.
The last part of our trip ventured away from the coast and back through the mountains of Croatia, to Plitvice Lakes National Park. At this time of year with the changing leaves and colors, even the parking lot had me taking pictures!
This part of Croatia is famous for cascading waterfalls and a cluster of crystal clear lakes. The lake was full of fish.
Jake and Eli were good sports once again, as we dragged them on another long hike. A few hours later we stopped for some french fries, and wondered weather we were more impressed with the waterfalls or the huge busloads of Japanese tourists that seem to be all over Croatia. See if you can find Mike.
Eastern Europe in the fall is a beautiful place to reconnect with nature. Our guest house that night was along the river in a a small watermill village called Rastoke. This was the view from our balcony at Guest House Buk.
The town was mostly closed for the season, but we found an open restaurant that made dinner “in a clay pot.” The clay pot is cooking there, in the fireplace, covered with ashes. The restaurant seemed a little grumpy to still be open in the low season but they gave Mike a Karlovacko beer glass, so we will forgive them the bad mood.
In the morning, cold and dewy, we hiked down to a bakery to buy croissants and butter for breakfast, then turned the car North for the last leg of our journey home.
As a surprise for Jake and Eli, we planned to stop for swimming and waterslides at the Krapinske Toplice Therme. I forgot my bathing suit, so had to buy a new one from a little Croatian saleslady who kept telling me to “try it on!” in Russian. Glad I knew that she was yelling something nice to me, otherwise I might have been worried and run away. I didn’t try it on, though. It was pretty cold outside and her stall didn’t really have walls, and anyway, it’s hard to be critical of a 15 Euro suit.
No pictures again because I don’t take my camera swimming, but we spent the afternoon bathing in warm water, alternating between cold sunlight outside and the woody scent of cedar ceilings inside. Jake and Eli loved the slides and the wave pool, and I loved that I could float around with Mike in the bubbles. Thermes are my favorite part of Europe, hands down. I could do this every weekend!
When we were all pruney and tired, we changed out of our bathrobes and drove the last few hours to Ptuj, Slovenia, where we stayed at Hotel Mitra. It was like stepping back in time with all the upholstered walls and gilded portraits, and an antique coffee samovar just like the one that makes Cafe Gerbeaud famous in Budapest. The rest of the town was equally charming, with narrow streets and a castle, and drinks being served from a barrel in the town square. Mike bought a pair of shoes.
We watched the sunset from the castle with these young men, as they sipped drinks from jeweled glasses and listened to symphony music on their iPod, and marveled at the way Europeans even class up Friday night happy hour.
We’re tired now, and ready to go home. Ready to sleep in our beds, ready to see the view from our windows, ready to play and cuddle with Gus Gus. We really miss our cat. It’s been a long time without him!
It’s been a long time without home. Sometimes, there is no adventure on earth that feels better than being Home.