Nature is Beautiful. People are Stupid.

I hate feeling like a lost tourist in Croatia. And Croatia is very good at making people feel like lost tourists. The overall lack of organization, written explanations (like signs) in many parts of the country sort of gives the whole country a DIY feel to tourism. Welcome to Croatia… You figure it out!

For example, last weekend the family and I went to Plitvice Lakes because there was a discounted entrance price.

Croatia’s gem

Plitvice is one of the few places that people who are not from Croatia know about. It regularly ranks on top 10 lists of places you have to see before you die. Plitvice is the number one (or two) tourist destination in a country that is mostly supported by tourism. It is the flagship of Croatian beauty. It’s like the New York City of Croatia, except it’s natural and no one lives there. Plitvice is what Croatia shows to the rest of the world. Sadly it is also a frustrating, aggravating, and disappointing experience.

 Parking lot?

Plitvice’s problem is that it screams disfunction. Maybe the human error stands out in contrast to the beauty of the nature. I don’t know. But the place has got problems. First, the parking lot is too small for the amount of visitors the park receives, leaving most people to sort of… guess what can and can’t be a parking space. Their cars end up in haphazardly, chaotic, impromptu spots next to trees, on slopes, or hugging the side of some narrow lane.

Long lines

Second, there are only three ticket windows, leading to a long, nearly constant line. Some people have complained about waiting for tickets for up to two hours. It would be easy to build more ticket booths scattered about the entry grounds of the park, instead these places are reserved for an over priced cafe and a souvenir shop.

Excuse me. No, excuse me.

And most importantly the park itself feels mildly treacherous. Most of the time you’re too preoccupied with staying on the railless, open, meter wide path in the face of a family with two strollers and a dog coming at you, idiot adolescents trying to splash each other, and an old Korean woman who stops mid stride, mid path to take a photo, that you can barely enjoy any of the utterly beautiful, breathtaking, scenery. Plitvice is like being promised a relaxing nature walk, but instead waiting two hours to enter an obstacle course.

To top it all off, upon leaving, squeezing your car through the chaotic scramble of the “parking lot” you drive with your ticket to the gate where you learn at the last minute that first you have to go to a separate window, on foot, to pay. Well, of course you do. Everyone else realizes this at the same time. So, now you have two lines, one of cars who can’t go anywhere and people running to the little window, trying to pay as quickly as possible, which isn’t quick at all.


Tourists, are stupid. They need help and information. I live here, I understand the chaos of parking in Croatia. I’ve parked in Split in July! And I was horribly frustrated at Plitvice. Imagine how it is for real tourists. And we can dismiss them, and say: ah who cares about dumb tourists, but those tourists make up most of our economy. Without them, we might as well be Moldova.

We should be better

Instead of being just the face of Croatian beauty, Plitvice is the face of Croatian incompetence. That’s the Croatia we are showing to the world. The one where the problems are obvious, but continue to be ignored. It’s a shame because we could do so much better. This is a place that, literally, millions of people visit each year, and it’s run like a side-of-the-road amusement park on the outskirts of Muskogee Oklahoma. Croatia, we’re better than that.