Plitvice Lakes + Zagreb

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Even if you’ve never heard of Plitvice Lakes, you’ve seen pictures of it. Most likely on some round up of “places to see before you die.” That is not hyperbole, this place is incredible. With caveats of course, but well worth the visit.

After leaving Istria we drove to Plitvice Lakes. We spent the entire time hoping it wouldn’t rain. And while it did, we were afforded several hours with no rain. And what luck, because this place is stunning and rain would have taken a lot of the beauty away. The trick we learned is to go not in high season, on a week day, and in the morning before the tourist buses arrive. Though it was crowded when we were there it was manageable. We’ve heard stories however about how the boardwalks can get so crowded you can’t walk and people tend to get knocked in. We were very thankful to avoid that scenario. It’s difficult to describe this labyrinth of waterfalls. But the walk around was so much greater than our expectations. It seemed every corner you turned there was something new and beautiful to look at, whether cascading waterfalls or moss-covered brooks, it was easily the prettiest three miles I’ve walked.

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We weren’t just there for the hike though. We happened to come on the weekend of their marathon. So Alex ran the 5k and I ran the half, which was one of the most technically difficult races I’ve run. I wasn’t even racing it, just getting in the milage on a beautiful course. But 3,000ft in elevation change is brutal.

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Alex, the speedster he is, got some serious camera time in the front of the pack. Though challenging for both of us, it was certainly the most unique race we’ve participated in.

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After the race we continued on to Zagreb, where we’d fly out the next day back to Dublin and on to San Francisco. We didn’t see much of Zagreb, though we ate a delicious dinner and enjoyed our rooms at the Esplanade Hotel where we spent time rearranging our suitcases to fit the various bottles of wine, tinned fish, olive oil, and brandy we’d acquired.

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And just like that our six-week, seven country trip was over. We didn’t have too much time to be sad, as we headed towards a whirlwind of Alex’s graduation, moving back to the states, and on to Nashville. But it was hard to end. Normally, a trip ending is sad (I cried for half the trip back from Hong Kong), but this time it was very final. I realize feeling sad we aren’t able to take month-plus long vacations regularly anymore is the utmost of a privileged complaint. But you certainly can’t fault us for feeling sad we didn’t know when we’d get out into the world again to explore.  World travel and being a doctor, though can coincide have to take a break during residency. So thankfully, our “last hurrah for now” trip was pretty incredible. Now, we just dream of our next destination and fill our need for exploration a bit more locally.

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