A recent string of events led me to write this post, and to share a glimpse into "a day in the life" of Dannyboy Travels.
I had arrived in Croatia on Thursday, August 23. I immediately made my way to Trogir, via taxi from the airport in Split. I returned to Palace Central Square apartments, where I had stayed for several nights in 2016. The family operators are very friendly, welcoming, and accommodating.
I stayed one night, and then left my sail bag with the family so that I could explore Croatia and surrounding countries for three weeks with a lighter load. Before heading into new territory though, I decided to revisit a couple of familiar towns, Split and Zadar.
I started off by taking the ferry down the Split for the weekend, spending time walking on the beach, strolling the promenade, and lounging in the cafes. I stayed for two nights, in two different accommodations due to limited high-season availability. But the rooms were very nice.
All good so far.
Then, on Sunday, I headed to Zadar. And that's when the mini-adventure began.
I didn't book a bus ticket ahead of time; I knew there were frequent buses going to Zadar. I just showed up at the main bus station in Split. It was 10:44am. As luck would have it, there was a bus leaving at 10:45am! Without hesitation, I purchased the ticket, handed the driver my bag, and boarded the bus.
Well, as it turns out, this bus was taking a local route. So the two-hour trip actually took three hours. I didn't mind much, though. It's a nice coastal drive, and I enjoyed watching the locals go about their daily lives hopping on/off the bus. (Lesson 1: Always check both the departure *and* arrival time of your bus!)
We arrived in Zadar just after 2:00pm. Casually gazing at the street scene from my window seat, I patiently waited for people to exit the bus... including the woman sitting in the aisle seat next to me. But she never stood up. In fact, people were now starting to get *on* the bus! I suddenly realized that Zadar was not the final destination - but it was my destination! I had to get off! I jumped up, nearly crawled over the woman, and stepped off the bus. She was very nice though. In broken English she asked if I was sure this was my stop. I smiled and said yes, "Zadar." She smiled back. I then had to interrupt the driver from loading bags to actually unloading a few bags so we could dig out my backpack! Whew. (Lesson 2: Know your stop.)
After my mad dash off the bus, I then began the leisurely and familiar 20-minute walk to the center of town. Once there, I grabbed a table at Cafe Forum and sipped a coffee while using their spotty WIFI to look for a hotel room. Very unlike me, I hadn't booked ahead of time. Online, and in between lost network connections, I found a room for a great price just a block from where I was sitting.
As I was about to press "Book," I reviewed the details once more. And good thing I did! The reservation was for the wrong day! I guess because it was close to 3:00pm, the app I was using defaulted my room search for the following day. I canceled out and started my search over.
The previous room wasn't available, but I found a new room equally priced and similarly located. I booked it, after double-checking the day. (Lesson 3: Double-check online purchases.)
After paying for coffee, I headed to check in. The establishment had good signage, so it was easy to find. But there was no front desk. It was literally an apartment unit. I had to wait for the manager to text or email me with check-in instructions. The challenge was I had no WIFI or cell service. (Lesson 4: Book ahead, especially if it's an "apartment" with no front desk in which case you have to arrange meeting the manager.)
So back to the Cafe Forum I went, for another coffee and more WIFI. At this point, it started to rain, so the massive outdoor seating area at the cafe closed, and everyone rushed inside. No seating for me and my big backpack. I stood outside, skipped the coffee, and focused on sorting out my room.
I texted the manager. No answer.
After a few minutes, I decided to call Hotels.com to see if they could help. I logged into my Skype account and made a free WIFI call. Free, because I pay $13/month for unlimited/anywhere Skype calling - a new service I'm trying. As this call turned out to be 24 minutes long (mostly being on hold), maybe it's worth it.
Hotels.com was not helpful at first. The representative couldn't reach the manager either, and so then she instructed me to book another room elsewhere while she canceled my existing reservation ... but that I would still have to pay for the canceled room! WHAT? That made no sense to me. I told her not to cancel, and that I would figure something out. (I wasn't going to win any economic battle on a spotty WIFI phone call. I'd deal with this back in the U.S.)
I hung up, and started to look for another room as a Plan B. But, wait, an email popped up! It was from the manager saying he'd meet me in 15 minutes. Awesome. I headed back to the apartment. (To be fair to Hotels.com, they also were able to eventually reach the manager. But their suggestion that I pay for two rooms for one night was ridiculous and unreasonable.)
I stood right outside the gate, with my backpack at my feet, trying (for once) to look as "touristy" as possible because, without cell service, I would be unreachable by text, phone, or email. We would just have to find each other visually. I figured he couldn't miss me. (Lesson 5: Maybe it's time to invest in a local sim card / MyFi device.)
About 15 minutes later, I noticed a gentleman walk right be me and stand about 30 feet away. He had his cell phone in his hand, and appeared to be waiting or looking for someone. Was this the manager? Why wouldn't he stand at the gate to the apartment complex, too?
Finally, about 5 minutes later, he came back to me and said, "Are you Dan?"
Well, yes, of course I am.
Now, as it turns out, the apartment was very nice. Super clean, very spacious, and well located. Suddenly, all the hassle of getting to this point in the day faded away. (Lesson 6: Things tend to work themselves out over time.)
I realize a lot of the hassle was actually my own fault (for not booking ahead, not paying attention, etc.) But if everything was planned out and perfectly executed, I'd have nothing to write about. These hiccups, as long as they aren't major ones (and these were all very minor in the scheme of things), help make travel interesting and fun ... And maybe that's Lesson 7.