We woke this morning to the sound of steady rain falling on the balcony of the room and the street below and a quick weather inspection confirmed the worst. The street was full of local people who were wandering about with umbrellas fully extended and attired in wet weather clothing. This did not look good.
We considered abandoning our plan to visit the National Park and finding something else to do instead but a furious flick through the guidebook didn’t reveal anything nearby that was especially appealing and as we were staying here in Skradin for a second night anyway there seemed to be no alternative but to press ahead with our plans.
During breakfast the weather started to improve and we debated the alternative boat times of ten or twelve o’clock and after some indecision eventually decided, what the heck, let’s just do ten. Back at the visitor centre we purchased our tickets and walked to the boat and to our horror we discovered that we were sailing with a coach party of German Saga louts who rushed on board and took all of the covered lower deck seating, which forced us up top. This was all right at first but very quickly into the journey it started spitting with rain and the wind got up and it didn’t look very good at all. Luckily the rain stopped quite quickly and although it remained overcast at least it was dry and quite warm when the boat docked at the dropping off point within easy walking distance of the Skradinski Buk falls.
A short stroll took us straight to the forty-five metre high falls that cascade down over seventeen rocky steps for a distance of over eight hundred metres and they were really truly impressive. I haven’t seen any of the world’s major falls such as the Angel Falls in Venezuela (the highest, and twenty times higher than Skradinski Buk), the Victoria Falls (claimed to be the largest in the world by volume) or the Niagara Falls (the widest in the world), but these were nevertheless really most exciting, probably better than the Aysgarth Falls in Yorkshire but not quite as spectacular as Gullfoss falls in Iceland, both of which I have been lucky enough to see. These falls were quite dramatic and even better because the river was swollen from weeks of heavy rain and the water thundered over the rocks adjacent to the paths and the spray gathered into a white mist that felt damp but invigorating.
All along the route there were local vendors selling olive oil, figs and fruit and we passed by without making eye contact or making a purchase. On the walk to the top of the falls it was encouraging to see the clouds breaking up and the blue sky starting to replace the chalky grey and by about eleven o’clock the sun was attempting to make a very shy appearance. At the top there were more shops and some interesting craft exhibitions including a weaving demonstration where a nice lady in national costume gave us an informative presentation on carpet making.
At the very top there was a boat trip to Visovak and the Roški Slap Falls further into the National Park but upon enquiry there were disappointingly no boats until at least two o’clock because a party of school children had commandeered them all for the day so that was too long to wait for us and we decided to walk back and return to Skradin.
There was an alternative route back to the boat landing station that involved an elevated walk on wooden walkways constructed across and around the falls. This was good fun but was certainly dangerous and almost without doubt would not be allowed in the UK due to over zealous health and safety considerations. The wooden walkway was wet and slippery and there were no guardrails to prevent walkers toppling over into the falls and certain death further down river. Europe seems to have a much more relaxed approach to danger and I think we should learn by their example. I am convinced that we are the only European Union member state that abides by all the rules and regulations that emanate from Brussels:
I imagine it goes like this. At a meeting at the EU headquarters the French, the Germans, the Italians and all of the other European jokers turn up early and arrange a little gag to play on the unsuspecting British delegate so when he eventually arrives they have all agreed on something absurd like a decree that say, requires everyone on a Monday to walk backwards with one foot in the gutter, or a requirement to use main beam headlights in the daytime or something similarly ludicrous. When they reveal this to the gullible Briton he dashes off immediately to make sure that it gets implemented without delay and they all stay behind and piss themselves laughing and as soon as they can control themselves again they have a rather good lunch and a few glasses of nice wine. Actually, now I think about it, nothing is quite so absurd as having to drive a car with lights on in the middle of the day, so perhaps Croatia is just as daft as we are?
We negotiated the dangerous walk back to the bottom where the sun was coming out now so we stopped and had a drink before taking the boat back to Skradin as the only two passengers on board and where the weather was now so much improved that after we left the boat we enjoyed a cake on the waterfront overlooking the crystal blue lake. After the second refreshment stop we took the car back into the National Park and to the two o’clock departure point where we bought tickets for the forty-minute journey to the monastery of Visovac, which is built on an island in the middle of the lake and which was slightly reminiscent of Lake Bled in Slovenia.
After a thirty minute tour of the island and the monastery the journey back was exceptional. The sun was shining and the lake was a clear azure blue, the wooded hillsides were a tapestry of lush greens punctuated with purple Acers and yellow brooms and a day that started needing a jumper ended not even requiring a jacket and it was simply just perfect.
Later we walked into the town and went back to the restaurant that we had been to for lunch on the previous day and we had another fish meal that was twice as good as that of the previous evening and didn’t cost nearly so much either. This had been a good day in Skradin and the Krka National Park and we were glad that we had stuck to our original plans and visited the falls and the lakes today so that we could set off south to Split tomorrow and not have to worry about returning on the way back.