New Euro Adventure

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Subj: FINALLY, It's On

Date: 5/27/2005

George’s New Adventure —

FINALLY, it’s on!!!

Way back, early 90’s… was watching the network news. NATO was bombing the Balkans.

Yugoslavia was falling apart — there were Serbs, Slovenes, Croats and Bosnians.

Mass killings — a real mess.

The network news was doing a report from Belgrade — a young couple was being inter-viewed for their reaction to the evening’s bombing. They were an attractive couple sitting at an outdoor café.

Your average 30 something couple out for coffee — much like the people I see at my local java hut. Except… they are being bombed.

They look like us, drinking coffee and hanging out in cafes… That gets me to thinking — “wonder what it’s like over there?”

Yugoslavia, huh?? Never gave it any thought until their war brought it to my attention.

Well — it ain’t Yugoslavia any more — there’s a
whole bunch of names associated with the area —
Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia
& Montenegro. And it’s been ten years since all
that war news… Hadn’t had another thought
about that place until ‘bout a year ago.

I’m at this party trading travel stories and kicking
around ideas for new travel destinations. This
person goes “What about Croatia?”

I had just been
north of there—
Slovakia and
Hungary. Ate
the food ‘n drank the beer.
Didn’t need to
go back soon. Hmmm… Croatia, huh?

What do I really know about the place other than all the war news from ten plus years ago? Well, it was formerly part of Yugoslavia and the coast of Croatia is where the commie

power elite would hang for vacations — the Red Riviera.

Ok… I’m in…

The big plan is set — take a whopping three months off from work.

First, go to Michigan and help with work around the family home.

Then in September, fly to Rome rent a car and go north to Slovenia — head south through Croatia down the Adriatic coast to Dubrovnik, which is some amazing place. Amazing ‘cause it’s enchanted, pristine — a working town from centuries ago AND it survived terrible Serb shelling from the high ground during the war. Gotta go there.

A great plan with all sorts of neat things along the way. Probably the neatest is this beach at Bol, Croatia on the southern side of the island Brac off the Dalmatian coast.

I am not a beach person however flipping thru a Barnes & Noble book on Croatian travel — there’s an aerial picture of this beach.
It totally blows me away.

A beach photo unlike any — it’s mesmerizing. Sand shaped like a V with a curly Q at the tip.

Turquoise water on either side — absolutely stunning. How many times have I seen an exotic photo of someplace and think wouldn’t it be wonderful to go there.

Here’s my chance. I wanna do this — go and stand at the tip of this beach.

I flip thru the pages and learn its called Zlatni Rat — The Golden Horn. I buy the book and the Golden Horn is a place I really wanna be.

 
So it’s off to Michigan and helping out with the family home. We’ve had the place since the folks built it in the mid ‘50’s.

The home is in need of some serious updating and major foundation repair. Me being the oldest, I’m the one for the job.

So it’ll be a 4–6 weeks of work on the old sod followed by my east-euro plans of travel grandeur.

 
Except I never get out of the state — there’s one crummy trip to Toronto where my bike gets stolen. Eventually it’s returned which is another story however my big picture Slovenia/Croatia travel plans are falling apart.

Mostly due to the stuff around the family home not coming together as I had planned.
Tons-o-frustration with construction delays…

However I did make my nephew’s 6th birthday
party and anytime all us siblings are in one place — it’s a good thing.

The summer wasn’t a total wash. I did help around the house and it was interesting hangin’ in the land of my adolescence with the next generation.

Went to my sister place on the lake. It was fun… however not the trip I had in mind by a long shot.

Thus it was back to LA LA land tail between my legs. Perhaps the timing wasn’t right — traveling alone can be a plus however there are negatives — main one being u’z got no one to share the experience with.

Everything is in your head. You’re a stranger in a strange land — nobody knows you, the money is weird and they don’t speak English. It’s a lot of work!! My entire travel plan is fading away…

Four months pass and I’m at my neighbors Christmas party when new neighbor, Neva, comes by and intros herself. She’s from Belgrade, Serbia. Cool! A working fashion model — even cooler!!

We talk up her homeland and my aborted trip there. She often returns for family and sez it’s a great place. Interesting sidebar about her coping with modeling income here vs what family and friends make there. Neva visits several times a year and adds, “When you go, you’ll love it.”

I’m recharged — wanna find a nice outdoor café, like in my travel book. Have a few beers and check out people that look like her!!

I love people watching — all types of people. You sit there — they walk by, each in their own space, each with their fashion statements, hair, tattoos…. Walking canvases of art. Like sitting at the ocean watching waves — yet more interesting in my book. People watching in a foreign country is best of all.

So it’s set — I’m outta here 5/27/05 — 8:30am Continental Airlines, LA to Newark to London to Ljubljana. Finally!!!

It’s my second shot at this trip — I nix the Italy part due to time so it’s Slovenia and Croatia. Don’t know much about Slovenia except it’s there and I’m going. It also has a capital city I can’t pronounce. I see Neva one day and ask her to say Ljubljana. It rolls off her lips, Lube-bee-yana. Forget leaning a few simple words, I’ll be lucky to get by without butchering their capital saying jambalaya or jamba juice or something…

Whatever!! Plan is to fly into Ljubljana, Slovenia and hang for a couple of days. Train it to Zagreb, capital of Croatia and hang there for a couple of days. Fly to Dubrovnik — rent a car and tool up the Croatian coast to Split.

Boat over to the island of Brac, drive to the southern end of the island to Bol and that amazing beach Zlatni Rat. Then back to Ljubljana and home.

A big loop over two countries. If I’m feeling super adventurous maybe a drive to Sarajevo, Bosnia.

However everything I read says your feet shouldn’t leave the pavement for all the landmines still there. Not a real welcome sign — we’ll see about Sarajevo… after all, it is a vacation.

I swore no panic purchasing like before my Slovakia/Hungary ’03 tour. All I want was a single pair of cargo pants. That’s all. Everyone wears them. Big pockets good for stuffing maps, cameras, film whatever and I’ll find them somewhere in La la land.

Well that works like a charm NOT — purchased four new pairs of shoes, two new pairs of sandals, two new pairs of swim trunks, one new pair of jeans, three new pairs of cargo shorts, eight new pairs of underwear — which I always need… two pairs of linen pants from the Armani exchange and oh yeah… one pair of cargo pants.

 

 

Oh well… I’m feeling good about the trip. No nervous jitters like in ‘03 — I’m cool and calm EXCEPT — did I have to buy all that stuff???

 

Please, where’s that plane and get me on while I still have some money…

George

 

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