When I arrived, summer was coming to an end, trees were still green and even if September was rainy, you could still feel somehow, the last summer breezes hanging in the city. There were no leaves decorating the streets and even though school had started, university students were yet to come.
Every beginning is slow. Autumn arriving felt like autumn feels for a lot of students, the lazy come back to the routine, the lazy start of a new year. Without even realizing, autumn was fully here, walking through Varazdin felt familiar, and we decided to leave to visit the Plitvice Lakes.
The ride is peaceful and only when we leave Karlovac, the fog abandons us. Since we went out of Varazdin, we’ve been reading 'magla' every once in a while. The entrance to the park is full with tourists and it only takes us five minutes to find some spanish group being loud and walking around.
However, we walk at our own rhythm, observing and taking pictures. Partially tired from the ride, partially fascinated by the view. In the firsts steps it’s hard to imagine, the view is going to get better, but after we’ve walked the first hundred meters the paths are less crowded and wander around the lakes seems more to what it should be. The large tourism spoils the atmosphere a bit (even if it’s kind of hypocritical to say this being a tourist): sometimes it’s hard to walk, sometimes you have to wait in the line to get where you want. I don’t want to imagine how this can get like in summer.
Walking through the paths, the leaves are slippery because of the humidity. I realize summer, autumn is almost gone, we’re halfway through the route we’ve picked, I am also halfway through my stay in Croatia.
With the light of a sunny day, the mountains surrounding the lakes look golden and shiny and the water, quiet, only reflects the same image.The light filtering through the trees, the roots creating natural steps to climb up the mountain, yellow-covered-trees hiding between the grey rocks next to the waterfall, and the surface of the water that seems a mirror. There are only a few places in the world that can create such moments of quietness and calm, in spite of the people being noisy, and the ways being crowded.
We come back on the same day and only a week later there’s another excursion in the plan. This time to a closer place.
Once you leave Varazdin with the car, Ivancica is visible from the car at the of what looks like a really big and wide flat land. There, there are several kinds of wild orchids hidden between bushes and weeds. At least to non-expert eyes, I’m pretty sure some people could stroll down the paths naming every species and types of plants. While walking around towards the valley I could only observe and think that maybe, I’m missing out something observing the flowers that look like every other to me.
The way to the small stream is covered by leaves, this time around their color is darker, and you can barely tell the difference between the shades of brown. Surrounding the path, you can witness the fall passing by: while some trees still have some green in them, most of them are dressed in yellow, orange and red. Looking higher, you can only see the winter, branches and trunks interlace, maybe some leaves hanging. The only thing disturbing the silence in the valley is the sounds of the little stream that leads to small waterfall. It is there where we spot one of the different wild orchid species. It’s small and barely visible, white and yellow. Even if I cannot see it, there’s some belladonna growing somewhere around.
This landscape looks nothing like the dry surroundings of my hometown, where everything that grows seems harsher, drier and sharper. The trees are shorter; their leaves are darker and never change. No, this landscape feels nothing like the mountains surrounding my hometown, maybe except for the blackberries spotted on the way back. When I see them, I can’t help but think about August, suffocating heat and my brother and me walking around with my granddad to pick some blackberries.
The ride back is quiet; fields expand on both sides of the car. Autumn is settled and staying, almost gone already. I’ve been here for two months and this staying is passing by between hills, lakes, cities and car rides faster than I thought it was possible.
Andrea participates in the Eurodyssey programme organized by Varaždin County, whose aim is to provide conditions for young people to gain professional experience. Varazdinski.hr is one of the employers which have expressed interest to participate in this Programme.