Thursday, July 30, 2009

Times they have a' changed

So the Plitvice Lakes area is a popular spot - perhaps as popular as ever - though it is evident that times have changed.

We stayed at one of 3 hotels - all with a definite 1970s look. Our hotel has massive conference rooms, a night club, a banquet hall, outdoor concrete ping pong tables, tennis courts, a bowling alley and a sauna. The hotel is very well kept, but the grounds have fallen into disrepair - many a loose or missing stone on the paths. The night club, conference rooms and banquet hall are empty and the ping pong tables are in need of paint and nets. Beyond the hotels, there are large abandoned buildings throughout the grounds - one had an elaborate outer staircase and what looks like a solarium (Or maybe an "atrium"-I don't know the difference).

It certainely appears that this may have been one of the premier resorts of the Yugoslav era - people may have saved all year (or years) to come for a few days - or maybe elites and party leaders came more easily. Several factors have contributed to change the park's situation. The war in Croatia actually began with a skirmish here in 1991 (can't be good for tourism) and this area was dominated by Croat Serbs until 1995's Peace Accords. Peace brought openness and closure - not many Bosnians can afford to come here and I'm not sure many Serbs would feel comfortable. The rest of Europe has steamed in - cars from half the EU were in the parking lot and we passed a lot of tour bus loads along the paths. It seems that the park has become a stop on the bus route or a day trip in from the coast. The park stays just as busy but the hotels are a shadow of their former selves.

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