In the small town of Obrovac I said goodbye to the Mediterranean and began to climb 1000 meters steeply up from the sea level to the Velebit range. At the top I as a paleface courageously spent the night in the main territory of the Apaches – it is here, under the peak of Tulove Grede a.k.a. Nugget Tsil, where the first 1960’s Winnetou western movie ends, where chief Intschu-tschuna and his daughter Nscho-tschi die and are buried, and a little further under Mount Alanac is where Winnetou himself dies in the third movie of the series.
As soon as one traverses over the peaks of Velebit, there is suddenly in a completely different country – instead of the dry Mediterranean, in places affected by recent fires, there are suddenly green highlands, forests, lush meadows, almost like somewhere in Switzerland.
From Velebit I continued north across the highlands, so that after having seen the Velebit range (where the Apaches fought), the Krka river canyon (a place of Nscho-tschi romance) I could also see the Plitvice Lakes (where the Apaches rested).
And even though there were a lot of tourists around the lakes and the entrance was not cheap, the Plitvice lakes and waterfalls are definitely worth it. Not only is the nature here stunning, but it is also supported by the infrastructure (buildings, walk paths, transport) here being done tastefully and not to disturb the natural beauty of the place, plus despite lot of tourists everything is kept very clean.
From Plitvice I continued along the river Korana flowing out of the lakes to the north, through the relatively sparsely populated countryside, through Karlovac, through completely uninhabited flat forests and wetlands full of herons around the Crna Mlaka ponds, across the Sava River for the second time (this time by ferry), around Zagreb and towards the border rivers Dráva and Mura at the triple border of Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary.
On the Hungarian side of the border awaited me a pleasantly flat countryside, across which I reached the Hungarian sea – the Balaton lake. Although the water was no longer ideally clean for swimming, Balaton is still a tourist magnet – for locals, Czechs, Slovaks, Germans and even the French.
And a similar landscape, with lakes and ponds, large areas of reeds and wetlands and lots of herons, storks, ducks and other birds, is also further north on the Hungarian tip of Neusiedler See.
Austria, Slovakia and back home
From Neusiedler See it was already just a short distance to Bratislava, where after a stop at Děvín castle I continued along the cycle tracks around Morava and Dyje rivers back home. During the last two days I visited Valtice and then returned from Břeclav by express train, from a sunny seaside summer trip straight back to rainy Prague.