Thursday, July 31, 2008

TRAVEL DAYS

Travel days can be tough. Let me explain why.

When lisa did the original planning, Sky Europe, a European discount airline, offered a flight from Krakow, Poland to Dubrovnik, Croatia. That,s on of the reasons that Croatia became part of the itinerary. Sky Europe then moves their operations out of Poland. Oops!!! This was six months or more ago. lisa then finds the closest (reasonable) flight to Dubrovnik which turns out to be out of Prague. No big deal because the flight to Dubrovnik is only ninety minutes long. Alright, she plans a train from Krakow to Prague. Done deal!!! Just wait!!

It's late the night before we leave for Prague. Our landlord has not been the best at replying to our e-mails so we aren't sure whether his mother-in-law will show up at 5:40 AM as planned. See, we need to catch the 5:57 AM tram across the city to meet the 7:00 train. I thought scheduling time would be essentially over when I retired. No way!! Mom-in-law did show up as promised, lisa handed her the key and we were off. Our train compartment was shared with two very nice Jesuit priests from California, Farthers Jim and Bill. We spent seven hours with them reading, journaling, swapping stories, etc. We also had a nice tablecloth breakfast in the dining car which seems SO luxurious. And it wasn't expensive. We arrived in Prague at 2:00 PM to find very few signs directing us to where the taxis were stationed. I eventually found the tourist information booth and they pointed us to the taxi waiting area. "Fair Taxi" was the tourist info lady's choice for a reputable company and informed us we shouldn't have to pay more than 400 Krona (about $30.00 US) to get to our hotel near the airport. When we rounded the corner we found no "Fair Taxi" and only two cabs. I like to envision them both saying "We got some suckers now". The first quoted 800 kn and the next 1000 kn. You see, Prague taxis are notorious for ripping off tourists and their countrymen alike. It's said even the Czechs hate them! One said to lisa as she walked away "What do you want to pay?", like this was a marketplace. lisa said 400 kn and he said forget it. My frustration level, already running high, helps direct me down the stairs to the metro area. Oh, by the way, "down the stairs" literally means down the stairs, no ramps, escalators, or elevators here. So I end up schlepping four heavy suitcases from one level to another. I go back to the same nice woman in the tourist information kiosk to find out that we can go three stops on the metro then take tram 22 to near our spot. She approximates on the map where our hotel is. We metro three stops then spend a lot of time finding out where the trams are, shuttling luggage and making sure the kids aren't left alone. I make sure we are on the right side of the street (remember trams go both ways...you can end up on the other side of town if you take it east vs. west). Finally, we get on tram 22. We discover, after leaving the tram that we got off several stops too early. I walked into a manicure salon and asked where we were. The receptionist gives me a quizzical look and says in perfect Czech "§˘4€ŠĆ...etc, etc.", (no clue). I ask an older lady at the tram stop, who I have zero faith in knowing any English and she instructs us which stop to get off at. She knows where the hotel is. Go figure. We finally arrive, frazzled but okay. The girls have been troopers. Though some arguing has occurred, they have been great. Avocet and Siena would often just lay down and use their suitcases as pillows and rest while we tried to figure out what we were going to do.

The next morning the front desk clerk bangs on our door at 3:00 AM. We need to be at the airport no,later than 4:00 AM to be on the 6:00 flight. We got on the plane and had an uneventful flight until the landing which was the worst I have ever experienced. Dubrovnik's airport is between the mountains and the sea and the very high winds that day made it especially bad. After doing a one wheeled landing, everyone cheered!! After collecting our luggage, we asked a policeman if the bus into the city was less expensive than a taxi. If you haven't guessed we are getting leary of taxis. He said..."WAY MORE EXPENSIVE". We took a bus into the city only to find that very few street signs exist in Dubrovnik. I had to walk up to a business and see what the address is and compare that to the map we printed off supplied by our future landlord. Our map was not detailed and only had the large streets. We were lost! We lugged the four suitcases up the streets looking for a landmark, or something. Finally, lisa goes off on her own, finds a gentleman who says its up the street we are already on and to the right. After another ten minutes of walking and thinking we are getting nowhere, we arrive at our place, exhausted but home.

NEXT TIME WE SPLURGE ON THE OVERPRICED CABBIE!

1 comment:

D said...

Poor babies! I feel bad that you are having these rough patches, then I think....OMG they are traveling while I am either sitting on my computer at work or stripping paint from my front porch. Enjoy these adventures--good and bad, it's what makes memories!!!!!
D