Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The trek is as important as the destination

In the last post, I mentioned that getting to Split, Croatia turned out to be more of an adventure then we had originally anticipated.  Below is an account of that very adventure! :)

Once there was a family trying to get from Venice to Split during the winter.  What looked like a stone's throw away from Venice was actually a 3 day trip on plane, train, and ferry.  

Because the family had become so accustomed to traveling (said in a sarcastic tone), they had a lackadaisical approach concerning booking the transportation and accommodations needed for travel in between Venice and Split.  Using an amazing little tool that provides travel options with prices (http://www.rome2rio.com/), it was determined that the cheapest way for the family of four to travel would be to take a train to Ancona, Italy followed by an overnight ferry to Split.  Being a day away from needing to travel to the next stop, the family proceeded to the train station to buy the train tickets.  They expected to have a full range of options for train departures headed to Ancona.  

You can imagine how surprised they were to find out that most of the options leaving Venice were all booked. Why? Oh, due to the National Holiday, All Saints Day, in which schools and businesses close leaving freedom for a long weekend holiday.  The best option was to leave Venice on the 6:30 a.m. train on October 31st.  They were highly disappointed as the early morning departure would cut into their slotted Venice time, but they quickly recovered from the disappointment and were thankful to have a cheap way out of town allowing to make the ferry connection on time. 

None of the members of the family enjoy early morning commitments.  Leaving so early (5 am) in the morning provided the unique experience of seeing a quiet side of Venice.  The Venetians were happy to see the family leave town, especially when one of the members got sick on the water bus leaving town.  The train ride to Ancona was uneventful as sleeping and playing on the iPad consumed the four hour ride. 

The family arrived in Ancona around noon on October 31st.  Wanting to be free from their luggage, they quickly hired a taxi and headed to the bed and breakfast.  Much to their surprise, the bed and breakfast was located in the hills overlooking the city and the sea (aka:  remote location).  Not having a car left them stranded without much to do or places to eat.  The saving grace was the view as well as a zoo a couple feet away.  The zoo was equipped with both entertainment and a restaurant.  

The 32 hours spent in Ancona were relaxing and enjoyable.  The lack of a central city location was compensated by the amazing hospitality of the hosts.  A couple in their 70's were the perfect match for the young family.  They were treated as family by doting on the children, providing delicious drinks and home-made snacks, and good conversation.  The family enjoyed this time with their hosts as well as frequenting the zoo, and resting in the countryside.  The hosts went the extra mile by taking the family to the ferry port for their evening departure.  Knowing the port a little too well, the hosts dropped the family off right at the boat itself.  After hugs and kisses, the family said good-bye and headed to board the ferry.  

Little did they know that they had been dropped off without checking in properly.  Little did they know that they could not walk to check in properly, but would have to wait for a bus...that only came every 20 minutes.  Little did they know that the line to check in was growing ever so long.  The family rose to the challenge of making sure they embarked on their boat.  They raced to the bus station, waited in the long line, checked in properly, waited more at the bus station, and felt like with about 30 minutes to spare they would be okay.  And then it happened.  The realization that the two most important bags of our entire trip were not currently with them.  The children's bags filled with essential stuffed animals and beloved toys were left in the host's car.  Seeing the panic on their faces, a Croatian couple offered the use of their cell phone.  A desperate call for help was made to the host to return with the bags.  How far away was he?  Could he make it back to the port for us in 20 minutes before the boat departed?  The adrenaline started running strong again.  With minutes to spare, the family separated...mom and kids boarded the boat while dad waited for the bags.  The captain of the boat was informed of the predicament and asked not to leave until all had made it on board.  

The father was a hero.  Not only did he make it with the bags, he grabbed dinner (pizza slices) as well. As soon as he stepped on board, the ropes were released and the boat was off.  The family had to breathe and regain their composure for a second.

Being on board a large ferry was a fun adventure for all family members,  young and old.  It was a new experience for everyone.  Exploring the deck, talking with Canadian college students, and getting the bunks settled took about an hour.  Afterwards, it was lights out until the call for breakfast at 6 a.m.  

At 7 a.m. the family arrived well-rested to their destination, Split Croatia.  The journey had been longer than anticipated.  There had been bumps and detours along the way.  In the end, the experience would never be forgotten and remembered fondly.

1 comment:

Jane Boyd said...

That last photo took my breath away and it is not the best picture you have posted. It is because I am sitting in the Clarke Central cafeteria at my duty station, on a cool dreary day, wishing with all my heart that I was on an adventure somewhere in a friendly, foreign land. Keep the stories coming!