Recently, my husband, Keith, gave me a great present for my 65th birthday: a trip to Croatia and Slovenia. Now, you may ask, why was that a great present? Who goes to Croatia and Slovenia? Where in the world are they located? croatia-mapIf you look at a map, or if you visualize where Italy is, you will find Croatia right across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. It actually adjoins Italy at the top of the boot. Slovenia is northeast of Croatia, and shares a border with Austria to the north, across the beautiful Julian Alps.

As to the “why”…well, for us, it was more of a “why not”? Keith and I have had the great fortune to travel extensively from Iceland to Australia and most points in-between. We had heard wonderful things about Croatia and Slovenia and decided to add them to our travel collection.

Although we had a grand time, this is not a trip I would recommend to newbie travelers. Croatia and Slovenia have some incredibly beautiful scenery, especially the Adriatic Coast of Croatia, and Lake Bled in Slovenia. Several famous people, Laura Bush and Prince Charles, actually stayed at the same hotel in Bled. The people are warm, welcoming and friendly. Most of them speak English since they begin lessons in kindergarten. There are also some amazing Roman ruins in Old Town Dubrovnik and Diocletian’s Palace in Split. To those who have traveled the world, I would highly recommend this trip.

One of our most rewarding segments of the trip was our adventures in  (PLEET-veet-sey) National Park in Croatia. BTW, don’t expect to be able to pronounce many of the words in either language since the words have lots of consonants in strange juxtaposition to each other. Plitvice is a popular hiker’s aradise with numerous waterfalls, trails, flora and fauna in abundance. Keith and I, while still relatively healthy and mobile, are both seniors and neither of us are really “hikers,” even though we often walk many miles within the cities we visit. It was very amusing, not to say amazing, to our four grown children to learn that we had hiked Plitvice for eight hours straight, in one day. Add cold, I’m talking boots, heavy coats, gloves and hats, kind of cold. Plus, drizzling off and on all day, no sun to add any warmth. Top that off with the fact that the “trails” were mostly rocky and muddy, some of them too narrow for two people, with cliffs plunging downward on one or both sides (no railing here). Some of the trails were rough planks across water with water running over the planks.

Now, Keith, a former wrestler, is very well coordinated and still pretty strong and graceful for an “old” dude. However, I am one of the least coordinated people you will ever meet. I read books, play the piano and sing, but nobody ever wanted me on their sports team! So it is a miracle that I hiked through Plitvice, saw incredible flora, awesome waterfalls, including the “Big One,” and walked away with nothing more than tired feet and a few sore muscles.

And thus ends the adventure of Plitvice, but, hopefully, there will be many more to come; many more exciting places to experience. Once bitten by the “travel bug” there is no cure.