We remember our first winter in Plitvice Lakes Etno Garden. We woke up at the crack of dawn, put on the warmest socks knitted by our grandmothers and headed to visit the National Park. The air was cold and sharp, and the shy rays of the sun illuminated the snow on the window pane. Due to the heat of the sun, the snow melted slightly in some places, forming crystalline sigmas, which made the whole scene seem magical, almost unreal. Indeed, there are few words that can describe the beauty of nature covered in snow.
A few days ago, the scenes on Plitvice were almost as magical as those long ago. We sat in the restaurant to drink a cup of hot tea and eat homemade apple strudel, remembering old customs and winter anecdotes. The snow surprised us a lot this year. The otherwise harsh and cold climate has changed drastically in recent years. Sifting through the memories, we remembered how we used to walk through high snow tunnels, children spent December to March in the snow, and would come to the house only when they were hungry or their noses were flushed and frozen. In recent years, this has not been a common sight, and for this very reason we have enjoyed the snow immensely this year.
While the chefs were discussing old winter recipes they could prepare for today’s lunch, we decided to visit Plitvice Lakes. We left the car in the parking lot because only a few minutes walk from our garden separated us from the beautiful winter scenes that are not seen every day.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is open all year round. We bought tickets for the park one day in advance through the Etno Garden app to avoid the crowds at the entrance. The upper lakes are usually closed in winter due to snow and rain as many parts are flooded. Scenes of waterfalls intertwined with the sun and snowflakes left us speechless. Nature looked alive and free, and visitors to the park walked cautiously across the wooden paths with a smile on their faces and holding hands. Despite the not so small number of visitors, he felt serenity in the air and warmth around his heart. Branches of century-old pines towered over the lakes under the weight of the snow, and only a slightly louder shout could trigger an avalanche of snowflakes from a nearby canopy. Due to the low temperatures, some of the lakes were partially frozen, and the sound of cold clear water was overpowered by the few chirping of birds.
As the day wore on, it was time to end our visit to Plitvice Lakes. With tired legs and full hearts, we said goodbye to the “Great Waterfall” and headed to the Etno Garden. On arrival we were greeted by a sweet brandy to warm our frostbitten fingers. After a short break, we headed to a restaurant where we shared our experiences with hot veal under the oven. But that’s a story for another time, isn’t it?