Croatia & The Plitvice Lakes Incident

by Marc Valentine

Croatia is an amazing place with unforgettable islands, beautiful scenery and to top it all off – its one of the more affordable places to travel in Europe.


We did an 8 day island cruise, departing from Split & stopping at Hvar, Mljet, Dubrovnic, Korcula, Makarska, Omis and landing back in Split.

During the cruise a few fellow island-hoppers recommended taking a trip into central Croatia to check out a cool national park called Plitvice Lakes.

Joined by 3 fellow travellers we booked the bus tickets and accommodation & made our way inland. After a few uneventful hours, the public bus we were on pulled into a small roadhouse for a much needed break from the road & bite to eat…

Everything Was Going To Plan. Until…

We all piled back into the bus & were pulling out of the car park, when one of our travel partners (who had booked our accommodation) leaned over the back of our seat and said “I think the place we just had lunch, is where we’re supposed to be staying tonight”.

Caught a little by surprise, we noted it was another 40-50 mins to Plitvice Lakes & asked our friend if she could be mistaken?

We dugg out the booking confirmation and sure enough the name on the confirmation was the same name as the motel we had just stopped at for lunch.

During the panic that resulted from the discovery that the hotel we were supposed to be spending the night at, was fast disappearing in our rearview mirror, we tried to discuss our little problem with the bus’s ticket inspector – who showed absolutely no interest in helping us whatsoever.

After insisting and shoving the booking confirmation under the inspectors nose for awhile, he soon got the hint that we weren’t going away any time soon & we finally got a response…

Just not the one we were hoping for – the ticket inspector spoke a few words to the bus driver in Croatian & next thing the bus was pulled over to the side of the road and our luggage was being offloaded on the side of the highway.

By this time we were miles away from the motel and there was no damn way I was getting off a bus. on the side of a main highway. in the middle of nowhere in Croatia. no damn way!


Plitvice Lakes

National Park Croatia

Once again we desperately tried to communicate to the unhelpful ticket inspector, that we were confused and we want to stay at Plitvice Lakes not some dodgy motel on the side of the highway.

The Helpful Stranger…

We finally made some progress when an Australian man (from our hometown Perth funnily enough) who spoke Croatian could see we were in trouble and came from the back of the bus to offer assistance.

We explained to the gentleman what our plans were, he relayed this to the bus driver & the bus was finally off again down the highway with us, and our luggage still aboard.

It turns out there is only 1 hotel at the Plitvice Lakes, but as far as the local business owners are concerned if your motel is located anywhere within 50kms of the national park you can name it “Plitvice Lakes Motel” or some other creatively deceptive name in order to lure tourists.

Obviously a tourist trap to fill dodgy roadside motel rooms.

Anyhow, all ended well. We arrived at the Hotel on the Lakes & the helpful Australian guy from the bus explained our situation to the concierge who found us all rooms immediately and even called the roadside motel to cancel our reservation.

So we forfeit the deposit we had already paid to secure the roadside motel rooms, but it would have cost a small fortune to get transportation out to see the lakes from that place anyway.

2 Lessons learned…

  1. Bus drivers in Croatia can be arrogant A@$holes.

  2. Never pay for a room in full before seeing the place for yourself – a deposit is a small price to pay if the room doesn’t live up to the description on the internet.


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