Plitvice Lakes, Kuturevo and Senj

Rastoke is about water. It is here that the Slunjčica streams through the village straight into the Korana river. Waterfalls, watermills, small streams, bigger ones, fast and slow. There's water everywhere. There's even a beautiful cave leading down to the banks of the Korana. I visited Rastoke twice in 2018: in the midst of the summer and again at the end of December in the winter.

Rastoke, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.  

Rastoke, the 1st of August 2018. Photo: Casper Molenaar.  

There are lots of differences between both photos. Check the renovated roofs. Not one is exactly the same, probably due to the war in the '90s as i could see on a photo made just after the war. The castleruin on the hill has more or less disappeared in a forest on the photo, but it is still there one can see from the main road when passing.  

Rastoke, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher. 

Rastoke, the 1st of August 2018. Photo: Casper Molenaar.  

This totem is from a film scene from  Winetau, "Treasurer of Silver Lake", filmed in 1964. Most parts of the film were shot at National Park Plitivce Lakes and the river Zrmanja, but the Indian fvillage and the saloon were located in Slunj. Locals played small roles in the film and Mile Štrk, one of the legends of Slunj, in whose memory this totem has been placed, played a shaman. The totem had various ingravings of elements of Croatian motives from the area. 

After visiting Rastoke, first we had some refreshing drinks and then we went for a swim. Near the watersfalls we already could see some watersnakes, but when we went for a swim there were plenty crossing the river here. As the Croats did not seem to care, we tried neither. Within an hour or so the big white cloud turned to provide a heavy thunderstorm with heavy winds and rain and everyone needed to seek shelter, as did we. At the end we stayed for the night in the campervan.

In the winter we came back: on our way to Rastoke after our stay in and around Zagreb around Christmas. 

Rastoke, 1926. Photo: Kurt Hielscher.  

Rastoke, 28th of December 2018. Photo: Casper Molenaar.  

This time we stayed for the night in Slunj.

We stayed for a very cold night in Slunj in the van in front of the City Town Hall and the Police Station, here parked on the left, but in the morning we woke up with a pleasant sunshine.

The City Town Hall late in the evening and in the morning.

Waking up in Slunj.

Plitvička Jezera 

The day after we visited National Park Plitvice Lakes. Unfortunately, there was no snow, no autumn leaves and only few water. Though we had plenty of sun, we did not experience it as beautiful as I remember from previous visits in the hot summer of 1986 and early spring 2002, but then it was all way greener. Next to that I did not got exactly in Kurt Hielscher's footsteps here. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our walks and for me, to see the monument that commemorates the start of the war in '90s, was very special. It keeps strange to realize that the first shots of the war were fired here. At the time, Easter 1991, I remember a piece in a newspaper in The Netherlands about these first incidents, and at the time it gave me the shivers and now even more, it still does knowing where the war led to. Check below for a photo from the monument.

Photo: Kurt Hielscher, 1926.

Photo: Casper Molenaar, 29th of December, 2018.

In remembrance of Josip Jović, a 21-years old Croatian policeman, the first to be killed in the Yugoslav wars in the '90s during the so called Plitvice Lakes Easter incident.

Then we stayed for the night in Otočac before we moved on the day after to Kuterevo to check out the bear refuge on our way to the coast.

Good morning Otočac!


After visiting the Plitvice Lakes, we stayed for the night in Otočac. It was freezing but we could make the van comfortably warm. The day after, we wanted to go to the coast. An Adriatic sunset is an obligation when visiting Croatia and we got a very nice one in Senj (see below). On our way towards the coast we decided to visit the bear refuge in Kuterevo. We weren't sure if it was open or not. Maybe the bears were sleeping? It was winter, right!? The road alone to Kuterevo should be worth the effort, we read. And it was!

On arrival, we were received with great hospitality, first by Ivan and then by Hanse Gehring who gave us an extensive tour with lots of information. What a love for the animals! And the bears, so close by, so impressive! This is a special place!! 

Outbursts of creativity can be find everywhere. It is fun to discover what volunteers from all over the world left behind. We also learned how the refuge and its volunteers contributed to the development of the village and the villagers to the refuge. Thanks Hanse, Ivan and the others for having us!!! 

Hans even wrote a blog about our visit with some more photos. It is worth checking!!

Winter in Kuterevo.


And then we went to the coast. We were not disappointed, because with 15 degrees Celsius it was warm enough to sit in the sun without a jacket ànd we enjoyed the sunset as if it was summer!

Senj, harbour with Tvrđava Nehaj in the distance.

Spomenik hrvatskim braniteljima poginulim u Domovinskom ratu/Monument dedicated to the Croatian veterans who died in the Homeland War.

Just after a stunning sunset in the harbour of Senj.

Below: View on the Adriatic from Senj at sunset.

In the footsteps of  Kurt Hielscher