Every so often, I document a day in my not-so-average life. Last time, I told you about a winter day in foodie-haven Roma. Today, for the first time ever (though I probably should have done this before) I’ve documented one of our travel days.
So, what about these least glamorous days in a nomadic life? The days of transiting from one place to another? Well, they’re probably just as good, bad, and ugly as you imagine.
5:20 / I always wake early on travel days. Not because we’ve set the alarm for this too-early hour, but because I’m always anxious that we’ll oversleep and my body responds by waking me an hour or two before I actually have to be up.
This time, I attempt to go back to sleep, laying in bed half-dreaming for another half hour or so before…
5:55 / I’m up for good now, curling my hair, getting ready for the day, making up a bowl of oatmeal with chia seeds, mixing up some polenta and cottage cheese with Luna’s pancreas pill to encourage her to take it. Once I’m dressed and fed, I check emails and social media and catch up on my blog reading until it’s time to really go.
7:30 / I finish the final bits of packing left over from last night. The curling iron, spices, toothbrush, dog bowl…all go into my bags. Rather than try to lug the bicycle and my things in one fell swoop, I take my time, taking two trips down the seven or so flights of stairs from the apartment to the street.
7:50 / The van is supposed to arrive to take us to Mostar. We and our mounds of luggage are on the street corner. The van is not.
7:53 / We text the tour company to find out if they’re running late or if perhaps they got lost. They call us back. The woman on the line knows nothing about us. A bad sign if there ever was one.
8:05 / They tell us we gave them the wrong date. We tell them we didn’t–and we have the emails to prove it. They tell us they’ll reschedule for tomorrow. We tell them that’s unacceptable. We don’t have accommodations for another night in Dubrovnik. We’ve just lugged all our possessions down seven flights of stairs. We’re expected in Mostar today.
8:20 / Chad runs upstairs to ask the landlords (who arrived to bid us farewell and are presumably upstairs cleaning for their next guests) to call and talk to the tour company in Croatian. We’re told that they’ve called the driver and he’s on his way.
9:25 / Over the next hour+, we call several more times. Text back and forth. They admit that the date mixup was their mistake. But they don’t give us an arrival time for the driver. Instead, we stand on a busy street corner with all our bags, watching the sky darkening, threatening rain.
At first, we’re both pretty zen about it. Travel mishaps happen. You have to roll with the punches. But after an hour and a half, I’m over it and feeling frustrated with the company for not at the very least telling us what time to expect the driver.
And it’s ironic, because I booked this tour thinking I had found a clever way to avoid a lengthy bus ride. Every year, I unfortunately get more and more prone to motion sickness. Ten years ago, I dealt with a little plane sickness here and there, but in the last two or three years it’s gotten debilitatingly bad. After my bus ride from Split to Rovinj a couple years ago, I spent two days in bed recovering. When I arrived in Dubrovnik this year after just 50 bumpy minutes in the air, I was breathing deeply into a vomit bag.
So when it came time to book our transportation from Dubrovnik to Mostar, I went looking for a day tour company that would be willing to take our luggage and let us stay in Mostar instead of returning to the group.
I thought it would save us a lot of headaches.
Instead, I seem to have stranded us on a street corner.
9:30 / The driver finally arrives. No one told him about our luggage, so it’s a bit tricky (as he’s got his own stuff in the back of the car), but eventually we get everything in and climb in ourselves.
We drive up the coast and it starts to rain.
10 / The view out my window is lovely—deep blue water, hilly islands, bright white fishing boats. I try to relax and just enjoy the drive, but the driver is chiding us for not seeing this and that and another thing and I feel exhausted by his list of “I can’t believe you didn’t do x, y, and z!”s.
I explain that even though we stayed several months, work means we can’t go out every day and being introverts means that neither of us finds a go-go-go schedule fun. He chides us some more.
He has a lot of knowledge about the region and tells us plenty of interesting things along the way, but the constant rebukes for what we have and haven’t seen are exhausting.
12:11 / Our drive takes us across three borders. Into Bosnia, back into Croatia, and finally into Bosnia again. The landscape shifts to river and rock as we head inland. Both of us are reminded vaguely of Colorado.
1:03 / We arrive at the Kravice waterfalls. Our original arrangement with the tour company included three stops on the way to Mostar. This is one of them.
We buy tickets (2 euros each) and walk down the path to the waterfalls. The driver waits for us at the car, a fact we’re glad for as we both are tired of hearing about all the must-sees we’ve missed and about all the ways I could better do my job (because apparently our driver knows more about writing than I do). Despite being glad for the solace, I do find it strange that the tour guide just sets us loose like that, but perhaps since they forgot about us they had to bring in a driver who’s not normally a guide. I’m not sure.
1:10 / The waterfalls are stunning. They remind me of photos I’ve seen from South and Central America. The greenery is lush. And we both decide that we already like Bosnia. A lot.
2:20 / We stop at another attraction, but Chad and I are too mentally exhausted to do more than walk a quick loop around the pretty ancient town. We’re also hungry and our guide has informed us (belatedly) that if we want to eat lunch, we have to buy him lunch too. In light of the fact that they were nearly two hours late picking us up, you’d think they could make an exception (since we should have been in Mostar), but instead we pause uncomfortably, decline, and decide to go straight onto Mostar.
Chad stuffs his face with strawberries that our sweet hosts back in Croatia gave us as a parting gift. I eat a whole bar of cherry chocolate. We text our landlord with an ETA.
3 / We’re finally here! Mostar. Beautiful famous bridge in the distance. Apartment somewhere to our left. We pull our things from the car, thank the driver, pay him, and turn to meet our landlord, who ushers us up an elevator and into a modern, newly renovated apartment with a balcony with a view of the bridge in the distance.
I’m starving, so while Chad starts to unpack, I hightail it downstairs to the grocery store conveniently located just below us to grab a quick burek (Bosnian fast food) for lunch and a couple bags of basic groceries to get us through the evening and morning.
3:45 / I’m back at the apartment with bags full of red wine and white fish, tomatoes and pasta, milk and cheese. I pack it all away in our cupboards and bowls and fridge, then unpack my bags, settling into the space.
5 / After a shower, fresh clothes, and the all-important task of changing my location on Facebook, I slip on my shoes and we head into the old town for dinner at highly recommended Sadravan.
We order the National Plate for two, which features about a dozen local specialties and is big enough to feed us for two full meals each. The Bosnian cookies—little spiced meat patties, capture my heart and Chad demolishes the refreshing red pepper sauce.
5:45 / We discover the place only takes cash and we haven’t hit the ATM yet, so Chad stays at the restaurant while I seek out the nearest cash machine, returning a few minutes later just in time to ask the waiter to wrap up the rest of our meal and bring the check.
6 / We head back to the apartment to store the leftovers in the fridge and get Luna for a walk around old town. Normally, I’d take Luna with me to dinner, but I’ve heard Bosnia isn’t quite as pet friendly as Central Europe and most restaurants won’t admit dogs (and patios are hit or miss), so instead she stayed home to rest.
Now, though, she’s on the leash and ready to go exploring.
We walk the main streets of old town, getting our bearings, stopping into a few little shops to buy homemade mint soap and homemade strawberry jam and rose flavored Bosnian delight (Turkish delight with a Bosnian twist).
7:20 / Back home again, we call it an early night.
I sit in bed and search for my next book. I started Small Great Things the night before and was only a few chapters in, but I was already too disturbed and upset by the white supremacist character to continue.
To help me revise one of the characters in my own book, I’ve decided to read some middle grade fiction (since my own character is very young). I choose The School for Good and Evil and am immediately hooked and charmed.
By 9 or 9:30, I’m out like a light.
What’s a day in your life like? Have you ever had a travel day go exhaustingly wrong?
I’m sure you’ve tried many motion sickness remedies (as have I) the one that has worked consistently well is Bonine taken at least 30 minutes before. When we are on a ship I take it each morning with breakfast. (I almost died or at least really wanted to on a van ride from Bogota down to the plains…ugh)
Great! I will take a look at it. I actually haven’t tried anything at all, I’m embarrassed to say. It’s taken me awhile to realize that getting so sick on buses and planes isn’t just “a few times” or “a one-time thing.” For our next flight (probably late this year, thank goodness), I’ll definitely be talking to a pharmacist.
Luggage, bicycle, seven flights of stairs, daffy operators, cash woes. Wow! You really had a bad day, but you had me laughing all through. Thanks for posting Gigi!
Yes, it was a doozy of a day! One of those funny travel stories that will go down in my repertoire.
I’m sorry your transfer from Croatia to Bosnia didn’t work out so well! Sounds like a stressful day, and the “you must buy me lunch” thing sounds plain rude. But I’m glad things are going well in Mostar!
I hope you can finish Small Great Things one of these days. That character is disturbing, but OMG the book is sooo good. And I never saw the ending coming.
I may well attempt it again!
Knock on wood we’ve yet to have one day go quite that badly but you also got to enjoy some beauty and you were together. Now that you have been in Mostar a little longer would you still say it’s less pet friendly?
We haven’t tried to take her to any restaurants yet, but everything else has been pretty pet-friendly. I haven’t had any problems taking her in shops or strolling around old town with her. Occasionally a devout Muslim jumps dramatically away from us while we’re walking, but it doesn’t feel at all malicious or like she isn’t welcome here – just that she bothers the occasional individual. So so far I’d say maybe not as pet-friendly as France or Italy, but better than Spain and the UK and definitely better than North America.