How to Make the Most Out of Plitvice

Song of this Article: Moolah by Young Greatness

"All my life I hustle just to get that moolah"

"Oh my god, oh my god. Someone's coming. Oh my god, I knew this was a bad idea. I'm peeing and I can't stop!" 

I secretly wanted to name this article "The Time I Accidentally Peed My Pants at Age 23" but opted against it. I'll tell the story though, you just will have to keep reading ;) #cliffhangeralert

A few months ago I was pinning away on Pinterest and spotted a place called Plitvice Lakes. I swore it was fake, just a photo heavily edited and HDR'd by some travel blogger trying to make a killing on affiliate clicks or something. But as I researched more, I realized that THIS PLACE IS REAL AND ACTUALLY EXISTS AND IT'S JUST A FEW HOURS FLIGHT FROM WHERE I LIVE HOLY MOLEY I HAVE TO GO.

So when an opportunity arose to book a flight to Croatia, I stepped on the pedal, pressuring my boyfriend into taking off more work (as if I didn't already do that enough) to come see this magical place by my side. Eventually he caved and said yes, and mere minutes later the flights were booked: we were Croatia bound! 

Months flew and soon enough, we were boarding a flight to Zadar, the closest city to Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. The two are about a two hour drive apart, and the buses are fairly easily accessible from the center of Zadar, but be sure to check the bus schedules if you're planning on leaving from there. The buses run fairly infrequently during the off season (although I hear it's fine during the summer months) and we found that they ran at extremely inconvenient times. 

In Zadar on our first day. Croatia was my last country to visit out of all 28 countries in the EU! 

In Zadar on our first day. Croatia was my last country to visit out of all 28 countries in the EU! 

Regardless, after a few days in Zadar, we climbed onto a comfortable bus (read: overheated) to Plitvice, and I could hardly contain my excitement. The bus ride wasn't the most scenic routes, passing mostly through rural farm towns, but I kept myself entertained by flipping through photos of these seemingly majestic lakes. After two and a half hours of annoying Patrick, we got off at Plitvice Lakes, and had to take a taxi about 7km to the town of Grabovac where our B&B was located. 

Here's where we almost die: our taxi driver was the most reckless driver in the Balkans. So reckless that I dug my fingernails into Patrick's hand while clinging on for dear life (God help him if we ever have children) and trying to dramatically gesture to the driver (he spoke no English) that he was driving far too fast and needed to slow down. He either didn't understand, or chose to ignore me, and continued to wind down steep and twisted roads at over 60 miles an hour. I know 60 doesn't sound like a lot, and here's me acknowledging that I've become kind of a grandma when it comes to driving via moderate PTSD from a previous car accident. But when you're flying around sharp corners and windy roads next to cliffs with massive waterfalls, I didn't think I was being irrational. 

Much to my relief (read: surprise) we survived, and arrived safely at House Rene and were kindly escorted to our room with a dope porch balcony which we utilized for playing Head's Up (Patrick is good at a lot of things. However, I discovered what he isn't good at. While trying to describe South Africa: "G'day mate! I'm Steve Irwin!" "Australia?" "No, the one next to it!" "New Zealand?" "No. Wait. Actually, it's not even near there at all.") 

Hit FF to the next day, when we headed out to Plitvice lakes at 830am to maximize our day at the National Park.

The park opens at 8am, and it's advised to arrive as early as possible to beat the crowds and maximize the day. We were lucky in that the lakes weren't very crowded at all, however, it's the first week of April and only the beginning of the busy season. If you visit in the summer, I recommend you arrive before the park opens. 

Even if you do beat the crowds though, you're bound to run into them at some point during your trip to the lakes. While it's huge, there are mostly always people around.

Which is how I get to the story of how I accidentally peed my pants. Hold all judgments until I tell the story.

The park is huge and remote. There are no bathrooms almost anywhere, and we were still getting a feel for the park while trying to figure out where we were going to get food / use the bathroom throughout the day. We had been drinking a lot of water, and at about 11, I decided I really, really had to pee. You know how when you've got to pee and one of your friends is trying to troll you and they swish around their water bottle or they turn on the sink or make you think of a river or something? Well this was that situation except ON CRACK. 

The beautiful waterfalls, which would soon be my downfall

The beautiful waterfalls, which would soon be my downfall

I'm in a beautiful park, surrounded by beautiful WATERFALLS, and all I could think about was how badly I had to go. In between waterfalls, the feeling would subside a bit, but each time we approached a new waterfall, I was dancing around like Pinocchio learning how to walk (yep, just made a Pinocchio reference...). Patrick peed behind a tree without a hitch, but we were struggling to find a place concealed enough where I could squat down without being seen. 

There were plenty of opportunities where there were no people in sight, but I was too afraid someone would come rounding the corner and see me peeing in the middle of the trail. Just to describe the trail a bit, there are not really many places to just squat down. There aren't a ton of trees, and the ones that exist are right along the path. Otherwise, the path is pretty much a bunch of wooden planks crossing over lakes, or little paths on the side of hills too steep to climb, with lakes on the other side. My options were limited and time was running out.

An example of what the paths I was dealing with look like.

An example of what the paths I was dealing with look like.

We get to one waterfall, and I decide I cannot wait any longer. It looks like a safe location, and there seems to be nobody nearby. We find a big tree directly next to the trail and here comes the fatal decision: which side of the tree does Patrick guard? One side faces the water, so no need to guard that side, and the opposite side was directly next to the trail, so that left us with two sides, each facing two different sides of the path, equally open for the public to see. We decide for him to guard the side that was more open, so if someone came around the corner, it would give me ample time to finish and cover up. If I was on that side, they would have seen me immediately upon coming around the corner. On the other side, I would be slightly less apparent, but not by much. 

Before I took the walk of shame, I said "I hope to God no one walks around that corner while I'm in the middle of peeing, because once I start there's no stopping." 

AKA A death wish, of sorts. 

Attempt A started in failure, and I unbuttoned and dropped trou right as a family of 4 came around the corner. Hoping they didn't completely see my bare butt, I jumped up, pulled my black jeans back up, and ran around the corner to Patrick laughing. "Thankfully I hadn't started peeing yet!" 

Death wish #2. 

Attempt B was my downfall. After the family passed (although they probably still saw my butt), I hustled back around the tree for a second try. "Let's just get this over with as fast and painless as possible." The start of the event happened without a hitch, just your normal, every day squat and pee. And then a family of 3 rounded the corner. "OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, SOMEONE'S COMING," I hissed as I jumped up, trying to pull my pants up, mid pee. "Are you kidding?! I can't tell if you're joking!?" Patrick replied back, frantically. "OH MY GOD, I KNEW THIS WAS A BAD IDEA. I'M PEEING AND I CAN'T STOP." I clenched my muscles, running around the tree thinking I could defy gravity (Elphabaaaaa) and stop the stream. But to no avail. "I'm peeing, I'm peeing, I'm peeing! I can't stop!" 

And then there I was, a real grown-up with rent and bills to pay, standing next to my boyfriend wearing a pair of pee soaked jeans. 

At first, I couldn't figure out if I should feel mortified/shocked/like I should start laughing. A mix of emotions came over me where I was awkwardly laughing and snorting and trying to act natural as the family of 3 came closer, hoping that they didn't see not only my butt, but that I was completely soaked in my own urine. 

After they passed, Patrick and I burst into fits of laughter. I kept apologizing and he couldn't have been more cool about it, saying he now had "one pee-my-pants credit" to use at anytime he wanted. But there was nothing we could do: we were in the middle of a remote national park and would have had to walk 5 miles and take a 7km taxi down the winding roads of death just to change my pants.

And who's ever let a little bit of pee ruin their day?! Not me! 

So we forged on, pee jeans and all. 

And GOD was I uncomfortable. I had almost forgotten that distinct feeling from age 5 when you accidentally piss your pants at school, and the universe must've felt like I was getting too comfortable and complacent, taking my dry pants for granted. I spent the next several hours in constant discomfort, jumping between laughing and being annoyed at myself for being so stupid. Luckily my jeans were black, so you could hardly see what had happened. Not like that fixed the problem, but I'll say a big ol' you're welcome to all the Chinese tour groups that probably didn't notice that a grown woman had peed her pants in the middle of a national park. 

As the day carried on though, I forgot about the incident (almost. Patrick kept reminding me) and ended up having a blast at one of the most beautiful natural places I've ever seen. We laughed the whole day, climbed over fences intended to prohibit us from seeing certain parts of the park (oops) and took some goofy photos along the way. 

And since this article IS called "How to Make the Most Out of Plitvice," and NOT "The Time I Accidentally Peed My Pants at Age 23,"  I guess I will leave you with some advice for the day. 

  • Get there early! There is SO much to see that you'll want to spend the whole day exploring.
  • Don't necessarily follow a particular trail unless you're on a time crunch. They have several trail options, ranging from 1-2 hours to 8 hours. We intended to do the 8 hour one, but got a bit lost (the park isn't well signposted). We ended up doing bits of a lot of different trails, and felt we got to see the majority of the park that way. 
  • If you can, bring something to eat for the day! We brought a big bag of chips and some juice, thinking there'd be some cafes sporadically throughout the park. While there are a few, if you don't want to be stuck eating a ham and cheese sandwich (with one slice each, respectively), then it's best to bring your own noms. Also water is good! 
  • Wear comfortable (and warm) clothes. I was thankful I was dressed comfortably, but definitely was not warm enough. If you're visiting during the off-season especially, you'll be thankful you did. The water is a lot colder than you think, and will likely blow in your direction! You want to be warm during those times. You can always take off layers throughout your walk.
  • No need for intense hiking gear. I wore my converse and (wet) jeans and was more than fine. Although I did see people dressed for Everest. 
  • There are two entrances. Doesn't really matter which one you take, although I'm pretty sure that Entrance #1 is the main one. There are some hotels scattered near Entrance #2.
  • Make sure all your photo taking devices are fully charged! I made this mistake :( Luckily this meant minimal pictures post-pee incident. 
  • Stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery as much as you can.
  • The best pictures have no people in it. Hang back from the big groups a bit so you can get the most optimal photos. 
  • Pee ahead of time! 

Thank you for letting me share this (slightly) embarrassing part of my life with you. I can guarantee you that this is a one-off incident, and I don't plan on making this a habit for the future. 

Plitvice is truly magical and I'm so thankful that I got to visit after pining over it for months. If you're in Croatia, although it's not the most conveniently located place, it's worth the trek. And it's not far from the Bosnian border if you wanted to knock two countries off your wanderlist with one stone! 

Now I'm asking you: what's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you while traveling? How did you recover? 

*Author's note: All photos on here are PRE-pee incident. So trying to spot the pee is useless! Thought I'd warn you so you don't spend an unnecessary amount of time staring at my crotch for no reason.