Lost in Croatia

by - Wednesday, April 24, 2013

First off... Croatia (or what I saw of it) is a really beautiful country... but holy hell is their transit system not my friend.

I arrived in Zagreb after about six hours on a train from Budapest at 8pm.  I had simple instructions - get on the tram, go for two stops, and then find the hostel.

First time I got on the tram, it obviously changed numbers after I got on, and I ended up going in a different direction.  This wouldn't have been a huge deal - you'd think I could get off and then get a tram back in to where I started and then try again... but alas their track splits and the stations are not side-by-side.  So I walked until I did find a tram and went back to where I started.

Because I thought that maybe I'd headed in the wrong direction (they mark their trams with their starting point, not destination - very non-North American and unknown to me at this time) I got back on the same number tram and headed the other way.  Wrong again.  This time though I was able to get a tram back to my starting point fairly easy. 

Get back on the same number tram, heading in the "right" direction... and then damn thing veers off again in the wrong direction.  This time I get off right away and catch a tram back to the starting point.  I'm starting to lose it now - partially because I know that the hostel isn't really that far, but I am lacking a decent map so I don't want to just venture out into the city.

Finally I get on the (same numbered) tram I've been trying unsuccessfully to catch for the past TWO HOURS and it miraculously ends up going in the right direction!  Hallelujah!  Lucky for me I had a whole five hours of time at the hostel before I needed to be up for my flight to Dubrovnik to sleep.

Ha!  Five hours my ass... that's if I didn't have to deal with a bunch of inconsiderate, ignorant Spanish hostel mates (I'm seeing a theme with Spaniards and their disregard for anyone else).  I probably slept about two hours before they came back to the room and started arguing/yelling/acting like jackasses - so I just got up and went to catch my taxi to the airport.

Next time I have that little time in a city, I'm just sleeping in the damn airport.

The sobe that I staying in while in Dubrovnik was in the old city - and recommended in the Rick Steves guidebook.  The owner of sobe was unfortunately in the hospital, but he arranged for me to meet a friend to check in and get settled... the first thing I did was nap!

When I got up I explored the city a bit - I took the cable car to the top of the hill to get a good view of the city below - it was expensive (by the standards I've had during this trip) but I knew that it would be... Dubrovnik is a cruise ship port and the city walls filled each day with cruise ship passengers on mini tours of the city.  The views of the Adriatic were beautiful and I wandered around for an hour or so before going back to the city.

I explored the old port, and wandered the city a bit - the walled section isn't very big - lots of shops and restaurants - and prepaid my trip to Montenegro for the next day.

Montenegro will get it's own post... so I'll skip to day three in Dubrovnik.

I got up late (this was the first place I had my own room - not just an empty hostel room, but my own actual room - so I took advantage of being able to sleep in.  I walked the city walls - it's about 2km around, and got some great views.  I wish I'd been counting the number of stairs that I have walked during this trip - I'm sure I'd be close to a million by now!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing by the old port, eating ice cream and just enjoying some down time.  By this time I was more than halfway into my trip, and honestly I was starting to slow down.  I'm still seeing what I want to, but I'm not feeling the need to see everything at warp speed!

The next morning I packed up and headed to the bus station to buy my ticket to Sarajevo.  Yet another transit mishap... they don't mark the stops in Dubrovnik (either on the bus or at the stops), and I didn't get off at the bus station (in hindsight I'm not sure why as the bus station would have been right in front of me!).  Sadly, I realized this (I knew if I turned the corner of the road I'd gone too far) just a little too late - and of course the next stop wasn't for like 3km!  I got off, expecting (so North American of me!) a return stop to be on the other side of the road... but there was nothing.  I started walking in the direction of the bus (thankfully I'd left lots of time to get to the bus station!), and all of a sudden a car pulled up beside me and the gentleman motioned for me to get in.

And I did something I've never done before... I got in the car. With a guy who barely spoke English, and trusted my life in his hands.

Thankfully I did get in... turns out the next stop wasn't for about another 3km or so.  Since you're reading this post, you know that I wasn't kidnapped or sold into slavery... and I'm thankful that the man took pity on me and dropped me off so I could catch the city bus back to the bus station!

We're not even going to go into the fact that the bus to Sarajevo was almost an hour late and even though I crossed the Croatia/Bosnia and Herzegovina border three times on the way I didn't get a single passport stamp.

Next post... Montenegro and then Sarajevo!

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