Check out is at 10 am, so we don’t dawdle with breakfast and packing. It’s a five-hour drive, back up the coast and then over the inland highway. We pass by Ston again, we have learned they grow really good oysters here (a different kind than in western Europe), but decide it’s a bit early in the day to eat oysters.
We stop at a petrol station for a quick lunch and to switch drivers, there is almost nobody on the highway so we make good progress. The speed limits are all over the place, 80 in tunnels, 110 on windy bridges, 100 in some places where we don’t understand at all why, but we stick to the limit to avoid another fine. We cross the Velebit mountain range through a series of switchbacks and tunnels and drive through the back country of Croatia, which seems a lot quitter and woodsier. It’s about 50 km from the highway to the national park, again on a two lane road with lots of curves and slopes. Close to the NP we stop in a village to shop for our lunch ingredients. We arrive at the village Poljanak just after 3 pm and get installed in our room. It’s the cheapest room of the whole trip (55 € per night), the furniture is old but clean and comfortable. The owner explains that one of the entrances to the NP (P3) is close by and shows us a map with the indicated trails.
After some dithering we decide to quickly put on our walking gear, throw some water and snacks in the backpack and we set of to the NP. We park by the road where there are some other cars and walk down to the boat dock to buy a two-day pass. The place is obviously organized for busloads of visitors, but right now it’s pretty calm. The boat coming in from the upper falls is completely full (100 people can fit), but when it returns there is only one other couple besides us. We do the short hop from the upper falls landing to the right bank and walk along the Kozjak lake back in the direction of our car. We meet only a few people going the other way. We bypass the boat dock and continue along the lower lakes. We cannot take the wooden boardwalk by the water because it is flooded, but we can take the higher trail towards Entrance 1 and have some impressive a bird’s eye views of the lower falls. They are supposed to be less impressive than the upper falls, so that’s something to look forward to for tomorrow. There are some people walking near the river, they must have ignored the no-go signs (though it was marked very clearly), which seems not smart in a flood affected area in spring.
We drive directly from the park to a restaurant recommended by the hotel owner, fortunately we’ve brought spare clothes that are a bit warmer, because it’s cooling down quickly. I have a veal peka and a salad, Arne ćevapčići and we share a piece of Rocher cake.
Today’s statistics: 12.389 steps, 8,75 km, 15 floors