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My next stop after Pamplona was Nice, France where I met Marisol, a friend from home who would be joining me for two weeks in Europe. We decided to make a few stops in France and Italy, eventually making our way down to Rome to catch a flight across the Adriatic Sea to Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Since meeting Marisol in France, all of our travel plans had gone off without a hitch. We took trains and busses to each of our stops and all had been pleasant and easy rides. Our flight to Dubrovnik would be the first flight of our trip and since I had been to Rome before, I knew catching a train to the airport from the city would be the easiest and most cost effective.
We got to the main train station and jumped on the first available train to the airport, leaving us about one and a half hours to get to the airport and check-in. As we were sitting on the train waiting to make our way to the airport, an announcement came on stating all trains had been delayed due to a fatal accident on the tracks a few hours prior. We waited approximately 30 minutes and realized the train would not be leaving anytime soon. At this point we had only an hour left before our flight and panic set in.
We made a quick decision to catch a taxi, as paying 60 euros for a taxi would be cheaper than missing our flight. We grabbed our luggage and ran to the front of the station, hoping the taxi line wasn’t wrapped around the corner. We spotted a taxi immediately and told him as best we could so he would understand our English that we needed to get to the airport pronto!
Throwing our bags in the trunk, we jumped in the car the doors not even completely shut as he took off. Our taxi driver spoke very little English and tried to have a conversation with us but all we could think about was making our flight. As soon as we got through city traffic, the real adventure began.
I told the driver several times, “Please hurry. Only one hour until flight”, using hand signals hoping that would help the translation. There we were, two American girls sitting in the back seat practically biting our nails off from the anxiety, just hoping that we miraculously got to the airport in time. With no hesitation our driver stepped on the gas and began screeching around corners, swerving in and out of lanes around other taxis and motorcycle riders. At several points he was even driving in two lanes at once! Marisol and I looked at each other, faces practically pale from fear and immediately put our seatbelts on. We were either going to make it to the airport or die trying but we were not going down without a fight, taxi driver included.
Twenty-five minutes later we arrived at the airport, I was so thankful to be alive after the scariest car ride of my life. If we had more time I probably would have taken a second to kiss the ground. Adrenaline still pumping, we ran to the check-in counter and begged the attendant to allow us to cut everyone in line, explaining to her our flight was leaving in 30 minutes. She obliged but the race was not yet won. We did the same thing through the security and border control lines, visibly annoying people who had been waiting patiently to get through.
We assumed the hard part was over, the only obstacle in our way at this point would be the run to our gate expecting that to be only a few hundred feet away. No, the travel gods were not in our favor because we soon realized the gate was actually about a quarter of a mile away. We ran through the airport, dodging other travelers and children, baggage over our shoulders bouncing up and down with the motion of our run. Finally after what seemed like 20 minutes of running, huffing and puffing and visibily sweating, we arrived at our gate, just in the nick of time. We made the flight to Dubrovnik! Europe: 0, Nicole & Marisol: 1
Dubrovnik is a quaint Croatian city on the Adriatic coast and also a UNESCO world heritage sight. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in Croatia due to the efficient conservation of the 15th and 16th century medieval walls that encompass the old city. In the 1990’s Dubrovnik was a war zone during the Yugoslav war, among other former Yugoslavia cities.
Our first full day in Dubrovnik was spent lounging by the beach and working on our tans. The city has some of the most impressive scenery along the coast. Lush green mountains provide an unbelievably stunning backdrop while locals and tourists sun bake on lounge chairs under straw umbrellas.
Later that evening we took a 15 minute car ride up to Mount Srdj, 1,300 feet above the old city and coastline of Dubrovnik. Mount Srdj is not just a popular attraction for the breathtaking views; during the Yugoslav wars it was used as shelter for the Croatian army. Rubble and demolished buildings are left over from the war and stand as a reminder of the the still very recent devastation the city experienced during the war.
Our last day in Dubrovnik was actually spent about two hours away in Montenegro. We took a tour of Kotor, a medieval old town similar to Dubrovnik and Budva, a popular Russian tourist summer getaway.
The next morning we hopped on a ferry to spend four days in Hvar, an island off the coast of Croatia popular for its crystal clear blue waters and lavender fields. After all the sightseeing and endless walking we endured, we were ready for drinks by the beach and a state of relaxation so deep we forget what day it is.
Until next time…
Nicole Hale is a Downey resident and journalism major at Cal State Dominguez Hills. She will be documenting her summer travels with occasional stories in the Patriot.
Published: July 24, 2014 – Volume 13 – Issue 15