Traveller superiority complex

Throngs of people going to and from the big waterfalls in Plitvice can be seen on the wooden walkway. It’s busy, but beautiful.

This is another post that I’ve had floating around for a few months that I felt like completing after accomplishing a long term travel goal. It seems appropriate now.

A long, long time ago in a house far, far away I watched a TV show on PBS or National Geographic about a small National Park in Croatia. Croatia was just coming out of a period of war (the Croatian War of Independence) that was part of the wars that split the former Yugoslavia into most of the countries that comprise the Balkans today. Croatia was a fairly fringe travel destination at that time, although not unheard of before the war, which made it all the more alluring to an adolescent still dreaming of adventure in new frontiers. 

This park I dreamed of is named Plitvicka Jezera National Park (Plitvice Lakes National Park). For the last 15 to 20 years I have wanted to visit Plitvice and experience the beauty I saw. Recently, I had my chance to visit Plitvice. The park is absolutely stunning, but in the end I was a bit disappointed in the experience.  What I saw on TV all those years ago doesn’t seem to be possible to experience anymore. Croatia is now a major travel destination and Plitvice is one of the top tourist draws. People from all over the world flock to Plitvice to break every rule of a National Park conservation effort. They jump out of row boats and swim in the sensitive waters that created this majical place. They throw bread crumbs into the water to feed the fish. They drag their go pro along through the water as their buddy paddles the boat through the lakes. They wander off the wooden trails through the vegitation and rocks to get that “perfect selfie”. In their minds its probably “just one person”, but if they’d open their eyes they’d see that they are one of hundreds that break the rules everyday and that affect will be significant over time. This, as they say, is why we can’t have nice things. Selfish people on vacation rarely think about how their actions affect other people and the places they visit. Please be mindful in life. It’s not hard.

From what I have heard since visiting, if at all possible visit Plitvice in the late fall or winter. The crowds are gone, the serenity returns and it is even more beautiful from the pictures I have seen. 

This is where the previously written rant/rambling begins.
There’s an interesting mentality in longterm travellers. I’ve read about it, and now I’ve felt it. When you start out and people ask how long you’ve been travelling and how long your trip is going to be, you feel a bit self conscious. You’re like a freshman in college. Just dipping your toes into the travel lifestyle, being asked by upperclassmen about your dreams and future ambitions. You sound confident, but the upperclassmen know that you have no idea what’s coming. 
Over the course of a few months you figure things out and by the time you get 3 months into travelling you are pretty much a “junior”. You know all the fundamentals, it’s just a matter of pulling everything together into harmonious, efficient travel plans. 

You’re mindset also changes. For instance, I’ve found myself resenting people on vacation. “Tourists”. God, tourists annoy me. It sounds pretentious, and it kind of is, but there is a definite difference in the mindset and goals of tourists and travellers. 

Tourists. They’re always in my way. Mouths agape, walking down the street without a clue of what the fuck they’re doing. Stopping in the middle of a sidewalk full of people that just want to get across the god damn bridge. 

Thanks to my mapping program I took a little 25 km trip down a gravel road. It was a little slow going, but it was quiet and kind of fun working on bike handling. Road tires, loose gravel, and steep little hills make for some fun times. 😉

Travellers tend to want to try to melt away into the populace. Sure, we do the occasional tourist stuff and get fleeced like the masses of people just handing out their money while gaining a few pictures for the album. But, overall our mindset is just to enjoy the freedom that our temporary life choice gives us. Seeing the sights is great, but are they going to change our life? Probably not. Will spending “quality time” with people and thinking about what their experiences can teach you change your life? Probably a little. Maybe a lot. 

Back on the slow side roads after 70 km of major roads with no shoulder. So relaxing. Nearing the next set of mountains to make my way through. 

My alone time is very important to me. It’s where I can relax and “recharge”. When I work on things. I don’t really know if this need for so much alone time is a product of childhood or adulthood. I mentioned in a previous post that I enjoy being surrounded by people even if I’m not talking to them. That is true. I’m surrounded by people right now as I write, but I tend to think that the need to be completely alone came about during and after college. I’ve spent much of the last 9 years alone. Living alone, sometimes in semi-isolation, riding alone, working more-or-less alone. Interestingly, while alone I’m constantly thinking, but when I was asked: “What do you think about with all those hours alone on the bike?” I really couldn’t come up with anything concrete to tell the inquisitor. I think about everything I guess. I do math in my head. I think about the weather. I think about logistics for the next few days, weeks, months. I think about things I saw on Facebook or the news. I think about not getting lost or killed on the road. I think about family and friends. The list goes on forever. However, I can’t really say for sure that I come to many conclusions. Usually I just come up with questions that I need to answer before I can make a decision. 

There wasn’t a restaurant in town and the little store was closed, but they had a bar/Caffè, so this was lunch after the ride from Plitvice to Lovinac. Dinner looked similar… calories are calories I guess.

Anyway, I’m rambling and have gone way off topic. Picture time.

Big mountains ahead. Gotta go through them to get to Zadar. But first a day of rest in Lovinac.Edit

Just the baby mountains. The big ones always seem to be obsured by close trees or clouds.


Published by: Andrew Monfort

I am a former engineer who decided to follow my dreams. After 9 years of working as a process engineer in the oil & gas production and refining industries, I decided to follow my passions (cycling and travel) to see where they lead.

1 Comment

One thought on “Traveller superiority complex”

  1. I’m sure it was different than what you imagined, and I certainly agree about the destruction from tourists on natural areas, but boy does it look pretty from where I’m sitting.
    Also glad to know you’re thinking about all sorts of things. I used to do that when swimming laps, it was quiet and peaceful alone time and I just thought about everything.


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