A bit over a week ago we travelled to Plitvice National Park in Croatia to see the famous lakes and gaze at the picturesque waterfalls. I knew that there would be lots of other people on the same quest who came here from all over the world to enjoy this stunning scenery. And I wasn’t wrong. People were carted to and from the hotel in the hundreds, they seemed to only stop here for one night, check out the park during a leisurely stroll and leave again in the morning after their buffet style breakfast.
The challenge to find peace within the chaos
This was hardly a place of relaxation, I thought to myself, scoping out the hotel grounds and its surroundings. We came here to admire one of nature’s beauties but would have to share this view with hundreds of other tourists, some of them dressed like they were lounging around at a beach bar instead of going on a hike. Instead of finding myself somewhere in the Austrian mountains with nothing but the odd group of cows staring at me, this year’s hiking trip would be challenging in terms of pursuing a healthy dose of peace and quiet.
We used our first day to acclimatize and sample some of the local beers. Getting up on the second day I couldn’t help but notice this typical upbeat holiday feeling creeping up on me, and the variety of nationalities at the breakfast buffet seemed to put me in an even better mood. This wasn’t so bad. So what if we had to shuffle a bit between each waterfall trying to duck in front of groups of people to avoid photo bombing them? I was able to admire all different kinds of trees and bushes, the enormous amount of fish and the ducks enjoying themselves in the water that looked so deliciously inviting with bliss and contentment and strangely found a sense of calmness with everything going on around me.
Feeling calm in a crowded place
You did it again, nature! Never mind those hoards of people shoving and pushing past to capture the perfect waterfall selfie. Just taking a few moments looking into the turquoise water, I felt serene and calm. Even when being in a crowded place with mayhem all around you it’s still possible to find that stillness within you (also without the help of nature). This baffled me (in a good way). Maybe spending a few minutes meditating every couple of days gave me unknowingly the tools to do so. Or maybe the beautiful surroundings of Plitvice just mesmerized me to the point where I forgot everything around me. Maybe it was a combination of the two. Who knows?
The last couple of days passed really quickly. Every day we’d venture out into the park after a hearty breakfast and searched for new paths to hike and explore, which often let us stumble upon beautiful lookouts off the beaten track. A row across the main lake marked the end of our trip but not before we spent our last evening playing cards and enjoying some of Croatia’s finest dishes accompanied by, you guessed it, some more beer.