Sunday, June 26, 2011

Croatia: Checked that Box

One of the things we keep hearing is how Beautiful Croatia is. From everyone. And I believe them; it's been on our list of places we wanted to visit, but now we're on our way out and we didn't get there. Except we're staying in Trieste, and it's So Close to Croatia, that we decided to go to Croatia to the beach for the day. Kent was so pleased that I suggested it- he wanted to go too, but didn't want to add to the driving time. It seemed totally do- able.  We asked the man at the hotel who told us that we should NOT go because the traffic will be very bad.  We ignored his advice and we drove to Croatia for the day. 

And it was lovely, and we had a good time. And we tried gelato in Croatia, because it is a requirement of this trip that we try ice cream everywhere we go. 

Then we lived out his warning. The traffic was Very Bad. Very Very Very BAD. The GPS said it would take us an hour to get back to the hotel. It took 4 hours. 

We were cheerful in the beginning- I mean, How Long could it Really take?  At the beginning of the traffic, there were two lanes, going up a rather long, steep hill. Of course, whatever lane we were presently in was the "Slow Lane" and so the boys were encouraging Kent to switch lanes. Every time he relented and did switch to the other lane, the lane we had just vacated would surge ahead. We gauged our progress by a blue VW Transporter. We lost the transporter. We kept choosing the wrong lane at the wrong time.  People were getting cranky.... We needed a diversion, and we had no food in the car. 

We decided to take a poll of our fellow travelers, as Kent jockeyed between lanes. I wrote down the names of several languages in my book.  I wrote them in large letters, so that I hoped people could read them. Then as we approached a car,  we would pretty much hang out our window to get their attention and show them the list of languages. 

"What languages do you speak?" We would cheerfully ask our fellow inmates.  Some people we confused at first, but then most everyone joined in the game. 

Some people remained confused. One woman, early on in the game, looked annoyed. She rolled her window down, leaving her air conditioned sanctuary to speak with us. 
"What languages do you speak?" I asked, showing her the list. 

Cattish (This was Jack's addition)

She was trying to be helpful to us and offered "I speak English. What do you want?"

I said, "We want to know what languages you speak. We are taking a poll. A survey."

"I speak English. So what do you want?"

"Yes, I can see that you speak English. What other languages do you speak?" (Because she clearly had a very think accent, and spoke something else before she spoke English)

Now she was getting annoyed that we didn't understand her beautifully spoken English. "I am speaking English! What do you want?" I tried another tack. Simply showing her the choices wasn't working.

"Parla Italiano?" "Sprechen Sie deutsch?" She still was unclear on what we were doing. She said, loudly and slowly, "I AM SPEAKING ENGLISH." She drove off, as her lane was moving faster than ours and she clearly thought we were insane. 

One other woman in a car full of Italians asked "Perché state facendo questo?" (why are you doing this?) Then she smiled and motioned around with her hand at all the traffic and said "Passare il tempo" (to pass the time) "Si!" She smiled, and played the game. No English in that car that they admitted to. Tutto Italiano. 

One "way too cool for us" 20-something pretended to be on his cell phone every time we got within asking distance. He finally couldn't avoid our inquisition and answered "English". I asked what else. Croatian. (Now leave me alone) We left him to his misery. 

We had a lovely chat with a couple from Austria who said we should have driven further south to Rovinj because it was nicer than where we had been. Thanks for the tip-- next time. 

Not one person spoke Hungarian. (Magyarul) Not one. Most people literally laughed out loud when we asked them. Hungarian? You gotta be kidding!

We were in back of the Funniest Dog Ever- he looked like an Ewok, and he seemed to have the front seat to himself. There were other people in the car, so if he did have his own seat, perhaps he really was an Ewok. 

When we got to the top of the long hill, the second lane went away. Now we were isolated in our private cell. Now we were Bored. 

But it was downhill. So, Kent shut off the engine and used the emergency brake and we coasted down the other side of the mountain. One kilometer. Two hours. People were getting out to walk, and to walk their dogs. 
Kent said "Oh, she had a dog? I didn't notice the dog."

Jack had to go, too. We opened both the car doors and he stood in between them.  A couple of guys ran down the hill, throwing a tennis ball back and forth. We spotted some snails congregating on a mile marker. Why? Was there something there to eat? Clearly, it was the snail "Place to Be"

We made it back to Trieste at almost 10 PM. Grabbed a couple of pizzas and ate on the square. We were happy the man at the desk wasn't there to say "told you so." Still, it was worth doing. And it would be wonderful to go back, just not along that road. 

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