Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Caribbean of Europe - Day 1

Caribbean of Europe - Croatia

Trogir                                                                                     Croatia

Saturday 22nd August 2015

Yet another adventure lay ahead of me to the country of Croatia. Out of all the trips I had been on, this was the one I had a lack of knowledge about and guidebooks weren’t much help either. So I felt as though I was heading into the unknown but not to the extreme hopefully. My flight was in the afternoon so I spent the whole morning with my family as well as packing the last few items into my luggage. My grandfather arrived at 2:05pm leaving straight away as we headed for Newcastle airport. We talked for a long time about my journey and how to get to my hotel from the airport in Split. Yet again the conversation passed the time as in no time at all, we had arrived. We pulled up at the drop off point, grabbed my bags and said farewell to my grandfather as I headed for the entrance to the airport. 

I checked in very rapidly once I entered with no queues whatsoever. I was soon heading for the departure lounge but not before the familiar customs. After having my boarding pass checked, I placed everything I had on the trays and stepped through the detector. As usual the sensor went off and I had to take my shoes off and go through the scanner. I came back out fearing nothing as the machine showed that I was good to move along; I soon grabbed all my belongings and set off to the departure lounge. I was expecting the whole place to be covered in scaffolding and workers as last time I was there, they were busy refurbishing it. However, they had completed the work and the first part I entered was the duty free; it looked amazing and new. After weaving through duty free, I then came across a new range of shops and cafes laid out along the rest of the departure lounge. It looked amazing and still easy to find my way around. I decided to wander around looking in a few shops then trying to find a good seat where I could watch the planes taking off and land. I eventually found a seat but I would have to get something from the café in order to sit there so I decided to get a large mocha coffee. I was overwhelmed at how large the cup was as it looked more like a jug. I managed to grab the seat I wanted and throughout my time I watched several planes taking off wondering where they were going to. It was great watching them take off knowing that it would be my turn soon. 

Time had passed as it was time to head to my gate; no doubt it was at the far end of the airport. So I trundled along realising I was amongst the first to arrive. I showed the staff member my boarding pass and passport and then she let me through as I sat near the window looking on at the plane I would be in. My heart was pumping fast with the anticipation of flying and it wasn’t long before everyone was entering the gate area; then it started to get overwhelming not leaving much room to breathe. Then the call came out to begin boarding so after the rushing people who were trying to get to the front first, I reluctantly left my seat heading down the stairs and outside to the plane. I was just thinking ‘what was the point in trying to scramble to the front end of the line; it wasn’t like they were going to get to Croatia first’. Then I started imagining a passenger pressing his face against the cockpit windscreen saying “I’m going to get there first”. Anyway I was outside looking on at the plane and then I walked around the left wing and entered the plane from the back. 

My Flight to Split

I was welcomed by the cabin crew and I headed straight for my seat. It wasn’t long before I found it and sat next to an old couple. I strapped myself in and stuck my headphones in drifting off into my own little world. I did watch on at the other passengers boarding the plane and once everyone was on, the cabin crew shut the doors and in no time at all, the plane began to reverse. My heart was still thumping like mad mainly because I was in an aisle seat. I held my nerves however and tried to look out of the window as best as I could. I noticed that the planes were taking off towards the coast instead of the usual way. This made me wish I had a window seat as I wanted to see my hometown in the distance. The change in take off direction did mean that we wouldn’t have to go up the runway and back on ourselves so it didn’t take long to be on the runway. We straightened up and stood stationary for a moment until the familiar sensation of speed and power pushed us all in our seats. I then noticed the front end lifting up and I thought to myself, ‘this is it’. We were off the ground gaining height and I tried my best to see out of the window but it would be in vain as I couldn’t see a thing which was a shame. 

I feared the worst with me being in the aisle seat but I was totally wrong. The journey was going smooth with minor turbulence which helped me worry less. I tried to occupy myself by reading the magazines and duty free catalogues but then I was looking down the aisle watching people going to the toilet and back. There was one tiny moment when the cockpit doors opened and I could see a quick glimpse of the cockpit which was fantastic. I then looked at the old couple next to me and they were both asleep. I was just thinking they’ve paid for window seats and they decide to fall asleep, I could have had that and made use of it. Anyway, the next thing I saw was a 1-2 year old girl in the aisle and she looked a lot like my best friends child which made me think of them too. The captain spoke over the tannoy giving us statistics about where we were and what height we were at which was 39,000 ft. I never went this high on other trips before so I would clock this down as a record height for me. A while later he then came back on the tannoy saying that we were 25 minutes ahead of schedule which was fantastic. My nerves started to calm down knowing we were going to be in Split airport very soon. 

I then noticed the plane was beginning its descent which got me excited knowing I was approaching Split. By this point the sun was gone and night sky had arrived. Yet again I was trying to see out of the window determining how high we were. I did catch a glimpse of patches of light and they were getting larger and closer. All of a sudden we landed slightly rough getting slightly thrown around until we started to slow down. We made it which was a great relief for me as I had a big smile on my face. The plane took a few more turns until we came to a stop arriving at the gate. As I knew everyone was going to get up at once, I decided to just sit and wait until it became calmer. I grabbed my belongings and headed out from the back of the plane. As soon as I exited the plane, I could feel a sense of warmth which had hit home as to where I was. I headed down the steps and onto the pick up buses. 

I wasn’t in the bus for long as in no time at all it stopped and I was heading for the entrance for passport control and as it was completely empty, I was the first to get seen too. The guard looked miserable as usual as she looked at my passport and as I looked like the picture on the passport and got the all clear, I headed straight for baggage reclaim. I saw which belt I had to be at so I headed straight for it with everybody following suit as I was too preoccupied looking for my reservation sheet for the apartment I would be staying at. All of a sudden, I could see my rucksack going passed me so I hurried along with my reservation sheet grasped with my lips and tried to catch up to my rucksack. Thankfully I grabbed it in time and headed for the exit. The first thing I came across was a lot of Croatian coach drivers and taxi drivers holding up pieces of paper with names on them. Part of me thought my name was amongst them and then I realised I didn’t book a transfer. I already had a plan to just get a taxi from the airport to the town I was staying in. It was only a few miles down the road so I headed straight for the taxi rank. I couldn’t make out if I had to ring up to book a taxi or just jump into one. I got my answer though when I approached the taxi rank. The man knew I was after a taxi and he greeted me and then passed me onto another driver. I followed him around the corner to his car and told him where I wanted to go. I placed my heavy rucksack in the boot of the car and we were soon heading for Trogir. 

The driver was trying his best to speak English which was surprisingly good as we had a good conversation. He did originally think I was from Germany or Switzerland maybe because of the blonde hair and blue eyes. He was telling me a bit about Trogir which was great information to know and helped me understand the island town. Speaking of which, we had arrived at Trogir so I asked the driver to stop at the bus station. I grabbed my belongings again and paid the driver 150 Kuna and then I headed onto the island. Everything went smoothly today I thought but the next part would be the difficult part as I soon realised all the streets in Trogir were like narrow alleyways. However, a week before my trip, I printed off a map of Trogir and drew out a route to my hotel. It seemed straight forward on paper but that wasn’t the case in reality. I felt a bit lost as soon as I went through the first narrow street but part of me knew I was heading in the right direction. 

I followed my route as best as I could and miraculously there it was right in front of me; Villa Ruzica. I felt so relieved but then I tried to open the door. It was locked but I didn’t panic as my grandfather beforehand gave me a number to ring for the hotel manager. I gave it a go and typed the long number into my phone. I feared the worst when my phone began beeping. Finally, a man answered the phone and after informing him of the situation, he knew who I was and what time I was planning on showing up. He said he would be about 10 minutes so I waited and waited watching on at people passing by down through the narrow maze like streets until a young couple approached me opening the door and saying hello to me. I could tell they were just guests and they asked if I was staying at the hotel. I said yes and told them I was waiting for the manager to arrive. They were telling me about how good the apartments were with comfy beds and great showers so I felt as though I picked the right place. They left the door open for me just incase I wanted to sit and wait inside. 

All of a sudden a gentleman approached me saying my name. We shook hands and entered the apartment reception area. He asked for my passport and so I gave it to him and then giving me it back making sure I was that person. He also gave me a map of Trogir which was no doubt more detailed than what I had. I followed him upstairs and yet again I was out in the room on the top floor. I entered and I was amazed at how well done it was. There were a few steps leading to the bathroom and there were 2 single beds opposite each other. The man gave me the key to the room and after shaking my hand again, he left. I shut the door behind him and locked it so then I decided to jump for joy at the thought that I was in Croatia safely in my room for the week after waiting so long for this journey; I was also happy everything went smoothly from the get go. 

I finally decided to check the view from my window and so I opened the bathroom window and stuck my head out. It was pitch black with a few street lights scattered around but rest assured it was a remarkable sight as I was level with the orange rooftops of Trogir. I could also see 3 bell towers in front of me which looked amazing too as the street lights below them were illuminating the towers. I looked up to the sight of the half moon hiding behind a few clouds which kind of illuminated the rooftops with a slight bright glow of white. Then I could hear planes approaching above the town going into land and I couldn’t get over how close they were. The last thing I did was empty my whole rucksack and hand luggage neatly placing my belongings in the wardrobe knowing that I wouldn’t have to do it later. I finally lay on my bed realising how soft it was and there I was thinking that this is the life.

Caribbean of Europe - Croatia
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