Day: 102 & 103
Cities / Towns Visited: 52
Countries Visited: 16
Steps Taken Today: 27,661
Steps Taken Around the World: 1,877,956
Once again we were faced with another travel day, we awoke and scurried off to the market to have another feast of berries and burek from the market, sitting in the cool morning shade of the massive cathedral, before checking out and trekking half an hour to catch our ride. Now being in the realm buses, as oppose to trains, it was somewhat disappointedly that we stowed our bags below and slipped into the confines of our squishy bus seats. Lucky we’re travelling together, because I don’t know how either of our broad, introverted, and nearly 6 foot frames would have gone having to be literally and unintentionally touching a stranger for the 3+ hours of travel time. Eventually though, we arrived in Šibenik and made our way though the searing mid afternoon sun to our hostel. Deciding to forgo anymore sunshine torture we spent the afternoon relaxing before indulging in a three course meal, and a few top shelf spirits at the hostels rather upscale restaurant, before tucking ourselves in for a good nights sleep.
We rose bright and early, as we had a bus to catch to reach our adventure for the day. After a fairly painless ride, we arrived in Skradin, and alighted the vehicle. After zigging when we should have zagged, we eventually arrived at the visitors centre for the Krka National Park. With the line already long, we waited patiently until we were able to purchase our tickets, then quickly grabbed a few pastries to eat on the way. Eventually we were bundled onto the ferry, with the countless other tourists, and were soon floating leisurely up the river and into the heart of the park. The stunning blue green water, edged with tree dotted rocky cliffs and hills reminded me ever so slightly of the beauty of Norway, except for the temperature being somewhat higher, of course.
Stepping off of the ferry at the dock, we followed the crowds along the path, stopping along the way to admire what this national park is so famous for; its waterfalls. This first massive set of falls, known as Skradinski Buk, cascade down in stages, eventually pouring our through the trees on the bottom fall and pooling into a serene, crystal clear, blue-green pool, filled with eager swimmers splashing happily in the cool water. The whole scene is mesmerising, the steady sound of the forceful river crashing down the rocks, reminds you of the sheer power, yet gentle beauty of nature.
Still we had places to be as we knew, considering the bus schedules, today would have a tight turn around to get home on the cheap public transport, instead of footing the bill for a taxi. Scurrying off, we quickly reached the ticket booth and bought our passes onto one of the boat tours they run up to the Roški Slap waterfalls, with a stop on Visovac island to see the old monastery. We managed to make it in time to hop aboard the midday tour, which would get us back by 4, giving us only an hour to get back to Skradin for the bus, and given that the ferry takes about half an hour, plus waiting time and getting back to the bus station, some crude maths got us to the conclusion that this seemed like cutting it a bit fine. Thus we decided to instead catch the free shuttle bus from near the ticket booth we were currently at, to Lozovac, a town one stop closer to Šibenik on the bus route, giving us plenty of time.
With the logistics figured out we boarded our boat, and we were on our way. Before long the boat was skipping along at a swift clip, and I realised I hadn’t planned for the chill of a swift boat ride, and sat huddled up against my partner, until out of the blue a friendly German lady behind us saw my obvious discomfort and offered me an extra shawl she had brought with her. The random acts of kindness of others really do restore your faith in humanity. She would, in fact, continue to pass me the shawl every time we reboarded the boat throughout the day trip. We eventually got chatting to her and her husband, and learnt that they are from just north of Frankfurt, and within the space of about 15 minutes they were telling us we should come and stay with them on our travels. Of course, as introverts who have watched way too many horror movies our quiet inner reaction was to jump straight to ‘Are they serial killers? Who invites people to stay at their house that they met 15 minutes ago?’. In hindsight I’m sure they were just being polite, but you never know.
Before too long we were pulling up at Visovac, the tiny island in the middle of the Krka river, and being escorted around briefly by a guide who explained that Augustinian monks came here and built their monastery in the quiet seclusion of the forest edged lake in the 14th century, but it was later taken over and expanded by Franciscan monks in 1445, and still belongs to them, and houses some of their order to this day. After taking a little time to explore the small but beautiful island, and its equally as picturesque house of god, we hopped back on the boat to continue our journey.
Another short, but picture perfect boat ride later, and we were drifting past Roški Slap, or at least the end point of this slightly more calm series of waterfalls, which seems to emerge from some mystical place beyond the trees and fall playfully into the river. Docking, we were told we had an hour and a half to explore before we had to reboard, and thus we eagerly scurried onwards, knowing exactly what we were hoping to fit in before the ride back to reality. Trotting off, we passed The Necklaces, the series of gentle falls which run down the adjoining river in layers before reaching the waterfall we had just seen. Taking direction from a helpful park ranger, we were directed to a series of 519 stairs which led up to our desired destination. By the time we reached the top we were dripping in sweat from the battering of the hot afternoon sun, but were rewarded with a breathtaking aerial view of The Necklaces and the surrounding forest in the valley.
Heading along the path we reached our goal, the Oziđana Pećina cave, a pre-historic cave in the face of the top of the towering canyon. Although it is only just over 50 metres long, they found many remains of human settlement from 5000–1500BC, including ceramic fragments, stone artifacts, and human bones (including the skeletons of two children in the foetal position). The cave is currently home to bats, although we did not see any, as they tend to sleep in the cool, dark safety of the two chimney like natural closed pipes which protrude up into the rock from the roof of the cave. It was truly incredible to stand in there and think that more than 7000 years ago our ancestors were sheltering in this very spot.
Alas, it was time for us to head back down, and it was with much joy that traversing down the stairs was much less tiresome than the ascent. Arriving back at the boat we were ferried back down the river, and past the amazing scenery, to the dock. Piling into the free shuttle buses, and literally being crushed in, standing in the stairwell of the door, we were driven to the Lozovac entrance, before we inquired about where we needed to be to catch the bus back to Šibenik. Naturally it just involved standing on a corner awkwardly, at seemingly no assigned point, and hoping that we’d understood them correctly. Eventually, though, we were joined by other travellers looking for the bus, and we felt a little more at ease. As fate would have it, all of our worry about missing the bus had been for nought as it decided to turn up almost an hour behind schedule; but then isn’t that always the way of things.
Tumbling back in through the door of the hostel, thoroughly exhausted from the days adventure, we were slightly less irked by the hostels lack of access to their currently out of action communal kitchen, as neither of us felt like cooking at that point. Back down to the restaurant we headed, downing a couple of charcoal bunned burgers, which were delicious by the way, before heading to our bunks to relax and catch some shut eye. Tomorrow would be spent exploring the town, which we had, up until this point, seen very little of.
As I dozed, I thought once more of the cave, and once more I couldn’t help but think about how something that had housed our ancestors millenia ago, really does make our meagre 70 or so years on this earth seem rather insignificant. We get so caught up in the stresses of modern life, but when faced with the remains of a people who’s only real concern was whether they were going to be able to forage or hunt enough food, or whether they would make it through another year without dying from what are now easily preventable causes, it makes our concerns seem somewhat frivolous. So you might never own your own house, or you don’t have the latest Iphone, or you’ll have to walk because your car has broken down, again; at least in this day an age you will most likely live past the grand old age of ‘died in infancy from smallpox’ or ‘died at 15 from a small infected scratch’. That’s not to say that your problems aren’t, in fact, legitimate problems, but a little perspective always helps. Most of us in the privileged first world have moved past having to wonder if we’re going to be able to eat, so maybe we should turn our attention to greater things, like making sure everyone else who doesn’t share our fortunate lifestyles can eat. You only have a blip of an existence to make a difference; so ask yourself ‘What are you doing to make this world better than how you found it?’ and if the answer is ‘Nothing’, it may be time to change your direction.