Finally making it to Split, Croatia
Posted on April 19, 2009 at 1:12am Madrid / 7:12pm Cincinnati by Kelly Larbes
It’s been sunny, blue skies, and about 70F everyday for the past 10 days. No one in Split owns dryers and clothes are hung out on the balconies to dry in the fresh Adriatic air. We did our first load of laundry today. It’s been raining all afternoon. Of course, laundry day was ruined before the rain; Jay accidently bought fabric softener instead of laundry detergent and all of the stores are closed today because it is a national holiday. In his defense, everything in the bottle is written in Croatian.
Getting settled in to our new Croatian home has been an adventure full of ironies from the start. We arrived April 1st, twelve days ago, and that already feels so long ago. My spirits rose with excitement as the plane glided closer to Split, Croatia and I could see the red roofed houses dotting the land. I didn’t have expectations for the airport in Split, but considering it is Croatia’s second largest airport, I was surprised to find we landed on the only runway and there was a one building terminal smaller than a Walmart. As the plane came to a stop, we did a full 180 degree hair-pin turn and taxied back down the runway to the terminal and exited the plane. Exiting was chaotic because both the front and back doors of the plane were opened and for some reason half of the people in the back wanted to exit in the front and half of the people in the front wanted to exit in the back. Everyone was trying to wheel their hand luggage down the same narrow aisle past each other. Eventually someone had to give in and move over; it was usually us. At least baggage claim and customs was expeditious; our passports were quickly stamped without a word exchanged.
Tony, my new boss, met us at the exit. We recognized each other right away and greeted each other with an awkward smile and handshake. I really wanted to throw my arms around him in a big hug, saying, “It’s so good to finally meet you and we’re so happy to finally be here,” but I just stood there quite uncharacteristically sheepish, waiting for him to make the next move. I think the wee 30 minutes of sleep from the plane the night before was catching up to me.
Tony informed us that the van he had planned to have for our luggage had fallen through and, of course, our four large suitcases and hand luggage did not fit in his car. He said he had a plan, so we waited while he spoke in very animated Croatian with a bus driver. Tony returned saying, “In Croatia, you can negotiate for anything with anyone, except for that guy.” He wanted the bus driver to take just our luggage and stop along his route near our temporary apartment. The driver said it was impossible because he wasn’t allowed to make any stops. So, Tony decided we would ride the bus with half our luggage and he would pick us up at the Riva, the bus’s destination downtown by the port. The bus made five stops along the way for other passengers, but we finally did make it to the Riva and then to our temporary apartment.