Mar 4, 2017
By Manuela Hollos de Miranda
Croatia: A much needed break of serenity
After many weeks backpacking throughout Europe’s hectic main cities, Croatia came as just the break of serenity I needed.
I went from Budapest to Zagreb in an old train, in which I shared the cabin with a Hungarian girl named Katalin. Thanks to her, I was able to understand that we would be switching trains, and dealing with rather unfriendly immigration officers. We had a long and meaningful talk during the trip. I told her about my Hungarian grandfather, from whom I got this odd surname.
At the Zagreb station, we said goodbye to each other and I had a feeling we would never meet again, despite of our promises to keep in touch through Facebook and meet sometime, somewhere.
I was so anxious to get to Korenica, the city of the famous Plitvice Lakes, that I missed visiting the capital of the country. I just jumped into the next bus.
When I got there, I instantly felt that I had chosen the ideal place to chill out and take a break. The city was tiny and charming, surrounded by fragrant pine trees.
As I walked into the hostel, I could smell the scent not only of the pine trees, but also of fresh adventure. I felt as a true backpacker in the middle of nowhere. It was the first time during my trip that I felt really far away from home, in a good way.
I went to bed early that night, since I was going to spend the next day visiting the Lakes. But reality much exceeded my wildest expectations. Next morning, as I wandered through the wood plank-covered paths of the park, sighting dozens of misty placid waterfalls, I was overwhelmed by the enchantment of a place that defies description. All those lakes that mirrored the hilled forests, the lace-thin cascades, produced a psychedelic type effect on my mind.
I got back to the hostel tired but thrilled. I’ve overheard a group asking for directions on how to take the trail to watch the sunset from Mrsinj Grad hills. I joined them without thinking twice.
In one hour, we were already gazing at Korenica and doing an off-the-cuff shared picnic. The coldness of Croatia’s spring season was just enough to bring a comforting relief by drinking some wine and wrapping in a warm blanket.
We turned out to be an adorable group. Tomas, from Argentina, and Andrezza, my fellow citizen from Brazil, were solo travellers like me. Alvaro and Camilo were from Uruguai and had been travelling together for six months. Their captivating friendship made me secretly wish I had travel buddies for the first time in a long while.
The laughs and inspiring conversations about our impressions of the Lakes and other travel adventures were often followed by equally rewarding moments of silence.
The hills were surrounded by an incredible amount of trees in pastel tones, all together as in silent communion. I would find out later that I was seated on the remnants of a fortress wall dated back to the 12th century.
The sun began to fade away without any rush, as it was just enjoying itself. I always thought the sun as a exhibitionist star. I bet it likes to be observed, fully aware of its magnitude. The sun set right behind the valley, as a perfectly rehearsed play.
After sunset, I felt I needed some time alone to listen to the confusing thoughts crossing my mind. I excused myself and found a spot away from my hiking mates. The entire trip was being mind-opening to me, but I wasn’t taking any time to think about it.
Many of my concepts of happiness and plans for the future were changing dramatically. From a Law School student about to graduate, I was becoming a budding travel writer. The problem I faced was that before convincing my family about the wisdom of my unexpected decision, I had to convince myself.
To serious issues, such as money and stability, I would just weigh with the prospect of being able to visit places like the Lakes, not only on vacation time but as part of my professional life. Travel becoming more than a habit, but a mean to feed my restless soul.
I was willing to give it a try. But in order to do that, I would have to move out of my safety zone, not before promising my parents and myself that I was at least going to finish Law School first. In the meantime, quitting my paid internship to blog and enrolling in a Travel Writing Course were just my first steps towards this new exciting journey.
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About the Author
Manuela Hollos de Miranda
Manuela is a proud member of travel addicts community. She is always saving money and pipedreaming about her next journey, so she decided to gave up on persuing a career as an attorney to become a travel writer. She is a student of MatadorU travel writing course and is thrilled for selling her first pieces to travel blogs and magazines.