Looking back on my 18 months of various trips, I have been pretty lucky with plans coming together. So I was probably overdue for some mishaps. They came this week, and although relatively minor, they were still frustrating - and wasted my time and money.
The week began with a 2-hour bus trip from Zadar to Plitvice, where I would spend a few days hiking around the Lakes National Park. Sounds easy enough, right?
Well, no. I managed to screw it up. Twice.
First, I booked my hotel for the wrong days. Upon arriving at the Miric Inn, located just outside the Park, I found out that according to their reservation book (and to my confirmation email which I clearly hadn’t read closely), I was a week early!
My heart was set on staying at this cozy bed & breakfast style inn; and fortunately, they still had a room available for the two nights I would be there. It was bigger and more expensive, but I took it.
Second, I hadn't checked the forecast - which was for heavy thundershowers. On my 2-week sailing charter, every day will begin with weather analysis. But here on land, after two weeks of nonstop sunshine, I guess I just took the sun for granted. In this case, the forecast came true; it rained both days I was in Plitvice trying to hike.
With my normal set of travel gear – which includes boots and waterproof jacket – I would have been ok. “There is no bad weather, just bad gear.”
But on this trip to Croatia, I didn’t even bring my hiking boots because I had hoped I would be sailing a lot of the time. And my waterproof jacket? I brought it, but it was in my sailing bag, which I had left at the Sunsail office a couple of weeks ago so that I could travel ultra-light on this impromptu road trip. Whoops.
Had I checked the weather forecast beforehand, I might have postponed my trip a couple of days. And then in fact my hotel booking might have turned out to be correct!
Despite these planning and packing errors, I still managed to visit the Park during breaks in the rain. I spent 3-4 hours each day walking the trails around the beautiful lakes, waterfalls, and cliffs. I've posted a few pics below.
In the same week, I made another error in travel booking. Planning for November, I screwed up my airline flights to Fiji and New Zealand for the upcoming sailing trip. We are sailing from Fiji to New Zealand, but I mistakenly booked my return ticket to SFO from Fiji, not from New Zealand!
Trying to correct this error, I spent over 3 hours on the phone with Travelocity, on 3 different calls, with probably 6 different representatives. In the 3 hours on the phone, I was probably on hold for over 2 hours. What was most frustrating is the 3rd hour ended with us being disconnected! At that point, I just gave up and will figure it out when the time comes.
I also had the pleasure of dealing with Hotels.com for another hour on the phone. Again, trying to plan in advance, I had booked a hotel on the island of Hvar. After getting the confirmation from Hotels.com, I later received an email saying the hotel denied my reservation because there was a problem with my credit card. So I called my bank and spent 30 minutes with them going over transactions, and finally concluded that everything was ok. In fact, they didn’t even have a record of the hotel trying to charge my card.
So I called Hotels.com and after an hour, we finally found out that the hotel denied my reservation not because of my credit card, but because the hotel was full. I explained to Hotels.com that the hotel should admit the error in posting non-existent inventory, rather than blame it on my credit card (which had the downstream effect of me spending time on the phone with my bank). To Hotels.com's credit, they gave me a $100 coupon for my troubles.
All of this happened while I was in Plitvice, waiting out the rain.
Later in the week, after exploring the Park, I made my way back south by bus, passing through Zadar, Trogir, and Split – spending a night in each town. Then I took a ferry over to the island of Hvar, where I have hunkered down for the last several days.
And that brings up the last frustrating event of the week: I’ve come down with a serious cold.
Too many crowded, dirty bus rides? Too much hiking in the cold weather without proper gear? Too many restless nights in different hotel beds? Too many pastries and not enough fruit for breakfast?
I was hoping a few nights in my Hvar apartment would have provided me some stability and enabled me to get well before sailing. But here it is Monday morning and I’m still pretty bad.
I’ll make my way back to Trogir tomorrow, where I will again hunker down for 4 days before the charter begins. Hopefully I’ll get well.
As several people have pointed out, rarely do I write about the “bad” stuff that happens on the road. So this update may be a bit unusual and sort of whiney. But I decided to share this as proof that life on the road isn't always as easy and stress-free as it sounds. Things go wrong here, just like they do at home. And boy do I hate calling 1-800 numbers at this point.
Anyway, I'll end with the good stuff:
Plitvice Lakes National Park is magnificent! There are cool trails of wooden planks over lakes and waterfalls, and dirt paths right along side some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Despite the rain, I had several good hours in the park.
I continue to have good luck with my apartment and hotel choices. Miric Inn in Mukinje village was awesome. Super friendly staff; clean, updated rooms; a great breakfast buffet, and a superb dinner service complete with complimentary homemade plum brandy.
Later in the week, I returned to Zadar, where I stayed at Apartment Donat, in the upstairs penthouse studio with a magnificent view. In Trogir, I returned to the Palace Central Apartments where Ivan and Danielja were waiting for me. In Split, I opted for an Airbnb apartment that was huge and only 3 minutes from the beach. And lastly in Hvar, I picked an Airbnb apartment in a 15th century house with a small balcony, kitchenette, and very nice host.
That’s about it for this week. The planning and packing errors are just sort of a nuisance and embarrassment. The illness is really the only thing that is troubling. I've been to the pharmacy and picked up some meds so we'll see if those help.