By Doyice Cotten
Croatia is a beautiful country filled with friendly people – making it a great tourist destination. Nevertheless, as is true everywhere, staying alert can help a tourist avoid accidents.
One sees a lot of signage in Croatia that, if heeded, can help keep us safe. Signage is generally in the local language and English.
Some examples are seen in warning signs on Dubrovnik’s old wall (see photos 1 and 2) and in the museum located on the wall(see photo 3) . Many hotels attempted to keep guests safe in the bathroom (see photos 4 & 5) by providing a cord to pull to secure help in the case of a fall in the shower and (photo 6) warning of hot water.
One of the unique features in Zagreb was the existence of bike lanes marked on the sidewalks (see photos 7 and 8).
The lanes help keep the bikers safe, but can put the visiting tourist in more danger. One has to be careful to stay out of the lane because bikers whiz along silently and at high speed. Additionally, bikers frequently ignore the directional arrow and may be coming from either direction. This tourist barely avoided a collision on more than one occasion.
A very informative sign was found in the botanical garden (see photos 9 and 10). It is also in two languages and gives many of the park rules — emphasizing no dogs, bikes, or running.
Of course, signs are not helpful when people fail to use good judgment (see photo 11). This person was looking down at a drop of 50 or more feet. She had ignored the warning signs on the wall. But, tourists who want to see everything often fail to use good judgment.
One of Croatia’s major attractions is Plitvice Lakes National Park. The scenery was as spectacular as advertised. It did, however, have some easily correctable hazards. A boardwalk circles the lakes to give access to the various views. A major source of danger was this long boardwalk, the surface of which was uneven (see photos 12 and 13). The spaces between the planks are wide enough to catch a heel, toe, or the tip of a trekking pole or cane.
This increased the risk of trip and falls since tourists are absorbed in looking at the sights and taking pictures. It also had no handrails; this produced no problem when traffic was light and at most two people were side by side, but when crowded, it could result in tourists being jostled and falling into the water. Although it is probably intended to handle one way traffic, frequently people were going in both directions. In the summer, crowds are the rule, not the exception, and the narrow boardwalk is very crowded. A less serious risk is pictured (see photo 14) showing trees that lean into the path.
Finally, the most frequently seen hazard in Croatia consists of uneven walking surfaces, irregular steps, unnoticeable changes in pavement level, or small projections that might trip one (see photos 15, 16, &17). Of course these are not dangerous UNLESS you don’t notice them and fall on the pavement.
In summary, Croatia is a great place to visit: great people, great history, and beautiful sights. But, keep alert, pay attention to the signs, and stay safe. AND YOU CAN DRINK THE WATER.