Croatioa, Winnetou national park

Part 9: On Winnetou’s Trail in Plitvice Lakes National Park

You can’t always be lucky with the weather. ☔️

On our ride into the heart of Croatia, heavy rain drummed against our motorcycle helmets. But then, just like in an old home movie, it stopped at the exact moment we reached our vantage point: A pass from which we could enjoy an amazing view of the valley ahead. We got rid of our dripping wet biker overalls and soaked up the scenery.

It was fantastic! Just like we’ve experienced it in the German cinemas back in the day, it lay before us, perfectly lit by the returning sun: Winnetou Land. Some scenes from the famous Karl May western films of 1960s were shot at the rushing waterfalls and tranquil lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park (the people around here would say Plitvici). We remembered watching the movies as children and the atmosphere of this densely forested valley immediately grabbed us. We felt as if the Apache chief Winnetou and his blood brother Old Shatterhand could suddenly come around the next corner, greeting us with the words: “Welcome to the land of the far horizon!”

And what can we say: we hadn’t finished that thought when two people really did approach us.

“Hi! Who are you?”

Okay, here comes the downer: they were not cowboys, let alone even natives. But the license plate from the German city of Mainz, presented on their Opel station wagon identified them as a nice couple from our homeland. A young woman and a young man: Franzi and Daniel. We hit it off straight away and found out that Franzi used to ride a motorcycle herself (we’ve said it before: it’s a small world for us bikers).

We took the time for a photo session together and to discuss our travel plans. Then we went our separate ways, as we still had a long way to go.

Short Time No See

However, we still needed accommodation for the night. We actually wanted to book into the Winnetou Lodge. However, as the fictional Apache chief and even his actor, the Frenchman Pierre Brice, are long gone, the lodge had not been renovated for some time. So we decided to simply drive past there when we got the chance and stay overnight somewhere else. Just 10 kilometers from the lodge, we came across a nice place to stay…

… and Franzi and Daniel. The couple had also booked in there. Naturally, we decided to have dinner together. To identify the restaurants in the city, we had to keep our eyes open: They were often located on the upper floors of apartment buildings. But they were also very traditional, with tasty home cooking on the menu.

Over Hedge and Gangplank at the Plitvice Lakes

The next day, we finally hiked to the Plitvice Lakes National Park – after sweating at the Kozjak waterfall, we wisely left our motorcycle clothes in our room. A good decision, because our six-hour photo safari over gangplanks and footbridges turned out to be a tough program.

And an incredibly relaxing one at that: Plitvice Lakes National Park is not only the largest national park in Croatia, but also the oldest in southern Europe. It’s one of the few natural areas where large populations of wolves and bears still live in the wild. Before you ask: we did not encounter them. Instead, walking through Plitvici recharged our mental batteries – the calmly rippling water, that carved formations into the landscape over thousands of years, seemed to simply wash away the last days’ burdens and commitments. And every now and then, of course, we bumped into Franzi and Daniel – and almost simultaneously said that we wanted to spend more time in the park.

(It gets a bit picture-heavy from here; we don’t want to deprive you of the sheer splendor of this place).

In the end, this was certainly the most beautiful excursion we have had on the tour so far. And not just because of the landscape, but also because of the people.

So, Franzi and Daniel, if you’re reading this, it’s been a pleasure to meet you! And good luck on your tour!

Ours is already moving on again.

Support Rhein-2-Ganges and the Aktionsgruppe Kinder in Not e.V.!

Berthold and I want to collect at least 1 euro in donations for every kilometer we drive – to a total of 50,000 euros. We will donate the money to children from poor population groups in India so that they can receive better care and education. We are happy about any amount!

Donation account: DE40 5745 0120 0030 5199 46
Purpose: Rhein2Ganges

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