Croatia had been on our wish list ever since we saw dream like photos of the cascading waterfalls at Plitvice National Park. Our first Airbnb stay in lush green Croatia was Rastoke. Thanks to Rob who is always impeccable with his research found this idyllic location. Our cabin was once a mill 300 years ago which was passed down through the family. It was situated just outside the town of Slunj. Our cabin sat inches above a stream of fast flowing cascading waterfalls next to Rastoke Vodenicarsko naselje, which is a restaurant and water mill museum filled with beautiful gardens and stunning waterfalls that plunge into pools of clear jade waters and then cascade over green mossy limestone rocks.
Here is our cute cabin which attaches to our Airbnb host’s houses which he built. After 20 years in the special forces he is now semi retired running this tranquil Airbnb. His passion is now cooking and he graciously gave us a plate of his BBQ vegetable pasta which had a wonderful kick thanks to his secret hot spices. We also sampled his home made peach brandy which had a real burn.
I think his motto was to enjoy a peaceful life watching his young children grown up and spending his spare to building onto his home. We enjoyed chatting to him and his friend about life here in Croatia whilst he cooked the family BBQ outside on a wonderful open smoking coals flame grill. Rob has his heart set on having a rustic open BBQ set up at home. We are not steak eaters but I bet they were succulent and juicy as they were cooked slowly with care.
What we learnt was that Slunj has had a turbulent history as it has been a battle ground many times back in history. During the most recent Balkan war in November of 1991 a lot of people from these areas moved away to the city or into other European countries. The economy never really recovered leaving a small community of hard working Croatia people who are tough and determined to forged a peaceful life.
Each evening we were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the flowing stream and cascading falls all around us. These steams come from an underground spring which is forced to the surface. The water temperature was 11 degrees just right for keeping beer cool!!! (Well that’s what our host said). We had our own private BBQ area amongst the flowing waterway.
We had to keep our gate closed as many tourists wander through the mill village in search of the best photo spots and yes we were staying right on it!!!
There are many fruit stalls on the side of the road selling great locally grown seasonal produce. In Slunj we got some great cherries at a local fruit stall.
There are many beautiful falls in the area, on our walks we discovered many treasures. Walking down the path from our Airbnb we followed the cascading streams that lively tumbled at a high speed with such passion into the river.
We followed the moving river trail but luckily not too far along the bushy trail. As later after chatting with our host we learned that bears, yes the brown bear kind, have been spotted within a 3 kilometre distance from where we were walking !!!!!!!! They say that a bear will run away if the hear noise unless you cross paths with a mother and her cub. So I did some mad googling and found out that Croatia has a bear population of over 2000 plus bears. Important things I needed to know was if you see one crouch down ….. and never run …… but do whatever you need to do to stay alive if attacked!!! Mmmm feeling great about walking now. I also read not to go off the bush trails as over 500 people have lost their lives due to left over hidden land mines from the war. Well we are in a rural area where they live in harmony with nature!! Just like in Australia they have poisonous snakes. The viper is the deadliest snake that roams here. I was more worried about bears. Our host laughed at me saying you have crocs, deadly spiders and poisonous snakes in Australia so what are you worried about!!!
Well we did venture out again for more walks. At the top of our road we admired the fearless slack liners who tip toed across a shoe string for tips. We watched in awe as he balanced his way across a thin rope with a huge gorge below him!!! Interesting what people will do for a living!! Great if it is your talent, working for yourself, self employed and your office has a breezy open feel surrounded by nature!!
We walked down towards the bridge past a handful of quaint village timber mill houses. Each of these mill houses offer accommodation as the tourist industry is their main income. Our Airbnb is fully booked now until Christmas. Our accommodation is only a half an hour drive to Plitvice National Park which is top on our list.
As we walk across the bridge and head up the hill the views down over the gorge is surprisingly a mini Plitvice. A fairytale land of waterfalls and jade coloured pools and cascading falls surround us.
Another day we did a great trail that explored the historical area of when Napoleon ruled in the beginning of the 19th century. We headed along the river to the historical building called Napoleon’s Magazine. Napoleon’s army used it to store weapons and food. Now just reclaimed by nature. Just a curtain of green hangs in the ruined windows and doors. The ruined building was showing its age as it looked quite unstable. We dared not to step inside even though were no danger signs or fenced off areas!!!
The hillside where Slunj Castle sat was covered in a carpet of flowers which flowed down the hill. Europe just shines during the Spring and Summer months.
We followed the road down to the mirror like river, past crumbling houses who have seen better days and up to the panoramic lookout.
We stopped to smell the beautiful lavender flowers that were now out in full glory everywhere.
Our last walk was through the 18th century mill’s and garden falls in Rostock vodenicarsko nasselje. We saw a spoon mill where water falls onto spoon like spindles which turns the grind stone. A black mill was used to mill corn, oats, rye and a white mill was used to grind wheat.
We saw how clothes were washed in a timber tub with holes in it. The wooden tub sat at the base of the mill where water ploughed into it with rocket power. This in turn would spin the dirty clothes around and then the dirty water would escape out of the hole into the fast moving stream. Who needs electrical power!!
The gardens were full of a chain of waterfalls, rapids, jade coloured fairy pools and cascades.
It was a true fairy land which carried with it legends of fairies looking after the the millers horses at night, leading them to water and braiding their mane. The fairies would dance through the gardens and wash their clothing in the falls. Sounds just like a fairytale that could well have happened in these fairytale lands.