At home on the road

Our first trip to Croatia was in the fall of 2011. Flying into Zagreb airport, we immediately embarked on a week-long road trip. Our route took us to an amazing national park (Plitvice), then a seaside Istrian town (Rovinj), and a mountain lake resort in neighboring Slovenia (Lake Bled) before arriving back in the Croatian capital for our return flight home. We had no intentions of entering the Zagreb city center, but we were early and thought it would be better than wasting time in an airport bar. After finding suitable parking, we explored the area immediately surrounding the central train station and Tomislav Square. Our short visit that afternoon consisted of little more than walking around, taking a few photos, and visiting a cafe for a drink and a bathroom before continuing to the airport. However, both Fara and I left with an inexplicable feeling that there was something special about Zagreb and we had to come back for another visit. Fast forward to early spring 2018, we’re only a few months into our world tour and finally making good on our vow to return since that chance encounter more than six and a half years earlier. Our intention was to spend a couple of weeks exploring Zagreb before continuing on to other locations in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Instead, it became our temporary home base for the rest of the spring and into summer. As I write this in March 2019, we’re now planning a return trip for next month.

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Advanced problem solving

Despite what it may look like on our Facebook feed, life on the road is not all selfies, food pics, and #bobwithtinycups. There is a lot of real life that happens between these moments and little of it is glamorous. We still have to keep up with the family finances, go shopping when we run out of groceries, and fix things when they break along the way. It is interesting to find how often these ordinary everyday tasks end up being not so ordinary when tackled in a foreign country. In the last few weeks, we have run into three such situations, each bordering on becoming a mini-crisis, taxing our patience and problem solving skills on their way to resolution. Continue reading “Advanced problem solving”

Doing the Schengen Shuffle

On the morning we were scheduled to arrive in Zagreb, Croatia our train stopped at the small town of Dobova, Slovenia near the border. Two guards boarded the train and systematically checked each passenger’s identification. When they reached us, the Slovenian guard leafed back and forth over the stamped pages in each of our passports and eventually asked me how long we have been in the Schengen. I told him that we’d been in France and Belgium for the last month and a half and added that I’ve been keeping track of our time in Europe and I’m certain we have not overstayed our visa. He looked back through our passports and started counting on his fingers and even had a short conversation in Slovene with someone over the radio. I asked him if everything is okay and he pulled out his exit stamp, stamped both of our passports and handed them over to the Croatian guard. He assured usthere was no problem, but warned that isn’t just our most recent trip that counts against us. The other guard stamped our passports with his entry stamp, returned them to us and added that Croatia is also in the European Union. I told him I understand, but verified that our Croatian visa is different than the Schengen visa. Satisfied, the border guards moved on to the next passengers and eventually we continued our journey to Zagreb. Continue reading “Doing the Schengen Shuffle”

(One of) France’s best kept secrets

Fara and I arrived in Paris a few days ago. Just as an arctic front came in from Siberia that dropped the temperatures to negative numbers (in Celsius) and has covered Europe with a blanket of snow. The friends we spent Christmas with in Dublin ended up with several feet of the white stuff. Thankfully Paris avoided the worst of the weather and after a couple of days keeping warm in our apartment we have been able to get out and enjoy the city. Makes it hard to believe we’re a few days into March already. After about a week in Paris, we will be taking the train to Zagreb, Croatia to start the Eastern Europe leg of our journey. Continue reading “(One of) France’s best kept secrets”

Bagless in Portugal

The last few years, when I fly, I get this nagging feeling while standing at the baggage carousel. I start to wonder what if this is the time one of our bags doesn’t show up. I never say it out loud. Not that I’m the superstitious type, but who wants to be accused of tempting fate. Now that we are traveling full time, statistics dictate that it is no longer a question of “if”, but “when” will something go wrong while we’re traveling. So I wasn’t shocked when I found myself standing bagless in the now empty baggage claim area of the Porto, Portugal airport. None of the three bags we checked in Copenhagen earlier that day made the transfer with us during our layover in Paris. If there is a silver lining to be had, I no longer need to wonder when will I lose my first bag. I feel I can joke about this now since the whole ordeal has come to a positive conclusion, but our first week in Portugal was a little bit frustrating. Continue reading “Bagless in Portugal”