Having had difficulties trying to work out a way from Budapest to Zagreb, we ended up picking the 6 am train as our best option. You can book the Hungarian trains online but only though the official MAV website. We were pleasantly surprised at how nice the seating area was – though the bathroom vented straight onto the tracks – I would hate to have to work on them.
We started chatting with some of the other passengers and the time flew. We started to get a bit concerned when the train stopped and the conductor ordered everybody to get off. Taking our bags we followed the crowd to some waiting buses – trying to ask if it was the one to Zagreb – but no one spoke any English.
Fortunately, the bus we picked took us to another train and finally on to Zagreb. Getting off the train it was ironic to see a big red sign saying not to cross the tracks when all the passengers were. We followed suit thinking it was the norm only to just make it over with our bags as a train took off.
We took a train to our hostel and after a long walk showered, went shopping and made a simple dinner. There was only one other guest in the hostel – he had been on the road for a year and a half living in sydney, studying in Copenhagen and traveling all over – and we chatted about what was next.
Most travelers just get tickets when then get to the station, but for peace of mind we booked a bus via Getbybus for Plitvice lakes. Getting to the bus terminal, the line was huge for information so we ran outside and just managed to find the correct bus before it left (storing bags under the bus is an extra 7 kuna per bag).
The bus stopped in many towns and villages on the way and was a great way to see the countryside. Arriving to entrance 2 of the lakes, we took our heavy bags and followed the signs down a big hill to the ticket office – only to hear that the only luggage storage is back around the corner from where we got off the bus. Frustrated, we dragged ourselves back up the hill and found the storage (10 kuna per bag inside the information office) before getting tickets for the park and going exploring.
The lakes are impressive from the start – walking down the stone steps to a shaded dock and dipping our fingers in – the water was the clearest I have ever seen. You could see EVERYTHING – the fish competing for the little bits of bread thrown by the tourists, the bottom and even trees that had sunk below the surface. Taking the ferry from dock to dock – I was dying to go for a swim after seeing all the posters advertising the lakes. Unfortunately for me – I was at the wrong place – if you want to go swimming you must go to Krka national park not Plitvice!
Nonetheless the lakes were still stunning and we enjoyed walking along the rough hewn boards lining them. At some points the boards even run right over or alongside the falls and water spurts and sprays through them.
Reaching the bottom of one of the huge waterfalls the view was obscured by the rain of droplets coming from the cliff face. Climbing the tiny and slippery stairs opposite we hoped to find a viewpoint above the cloud of rain. Making it to the top – the view was totally worth it.
Wrecked from our day exploring – we headed back and got the last bus from entrance 2 back to grabovac at 17.20. The next day we had booked another bus through Getbybus from the lakes to Split. Before we left wanted to do some of the trails we had missed the day before. Getting there early, and this time quickly getting our bags stored, there was no one around and we could make the most of taking some photos of the boardwalks winding through the crystal clear water.
Done for the day – we headed back to the entrance, grabbed our bags and jumped on the 30 minute late bus.
Next Stop: Split