Mum had the bandages off her foot since Tuesday. She needed to know that before she pushed the button on our next adventure.
It all began early last week when Markus called Mum. He was planning a surprise birthday celebration for Sylvia. It will be her 60th. And Sylvia was one of three friends who was with Mum for her birthday earlier in the year. It wasn’t even a question if she would go – except for that foot issue.
“Where will it be?” Mum inquired
Markus answered, “In Belgrade.”
“Like in Serbia?”
Mum immediately googled the map of Europe on her laptop to check how to access it … by train. She had ideas.
After hanging up, she was immediately checking flights. It will only be a quick trip – fly in on the Wed, surprise that evening, celebrate on Thurs and fly home on Fri. She was excited to add Serbia to her list of countries visited. But booking direct flights from London was actually not so straightforward.
She wondered – just wondered, it it would just be possible to journey by train – and she could bring me with her.
It’s going to be a gathering of friends – and most of them know me and she knows Sylvia would love to see me. It would be an even bigger surprise – even for Markus! Mum’s head was in a spin. Well, first of all she hoped that her foot would have healed well enough for her to take the journey. But she wondered if they are dog friendly in the Balkan states – as in hotels and restaurants. If there will be any hotels that’ll be pet-friendly. What happens when they go to dinner? Will they let me go along? It seemed a distant chance.
So she started her research …
May’s comment: It turned out to be the most convoluted travel plan.
Travelling to America is straightforward (just lots of papers to fill in) in comparison to travelling to the Balkan States.
What spurred me onto the challenge was finding out that the hotel in Belgrade is dog-friendly! There is hope. Now let’s work backwards.
I googled train journeys and found out the route – and asked the travel agent that book our train journeys throughout Europe to find all the connections. I use them because they need to check if dogs are allowed on trains all the way – I know they are but this time we are travelling beyond Germany.
They came back with options: Paris – Munich – Budapest or Zagreb. But for some reason – they could not find any train schedules from either Hungary or Croatia into Serbia. That’s strange.
And the same thing occurred when checking schedules for the return journey – leaving Belgrade for Ljubljana was missing info – the travel agent could not book tickets. I needed to buy the Serbian leg of the journey locally.
Being that Belgrade was non-negotiable, it was after all going for Sylvia’s birthday celebrations. I couldn’t take the chance to get to Zagreb and not being able to go further.
I called the concierge at Zagreb to buy me a train ticket from there to Belgrade. They obliged but they couldn’t tell me where the train will stop. What? That doesn’t;t sound right.
Let’s now call the concierge at the Belgrade hotel about the return journey. All too soon, I solved the mystery of the missing train schedules for Serbia. Apparently they have closed the main Central station for a new development!!!! WHAT?!?!?!
And I was advised that it will be better to travel by bus. The trains in Serbia are nothing like the ones in the rest of Europe. The bus is 100 times better than the trains. They are air-conditioned and has wi-fi. OK, I wasn’t expect to travel from Croatia to Serbia by bus but maybe it was time to think differently.
Not so quick. They had to check if dogs are allowed on the buses. Alas no. But mini-busses do. Oooh, not so sure about that. It carries about seven to eight other passengers and they do allow small dogs. At this point, I am thinking – maybe this was a road too far to travel with Darcy. Till one of the concierge suggested hiring a private mini van. What? To drive from Croatia to Serbia? It seemed the best option. Really, the only option. What the heck! Let’s try go for it.
We finally managed to sort out our journey over land. And our adventure begins tomorrow morning as we make our way to the Balkan States … one step, one sector, one train ride, one capital city at a time. Leaving London at 7:00am for Paris, catching a train to Munich (5.5 hours) and then catching an overnight train to Zagreb (10 hours) – arriving at about 8.25am on Monday morning. My first time in Croatia. Have always been wanting to go – it will only be a short visit this time as we must make our way to Serbia.
We will write from Zagreb before our mini van drive to Belgrade.
And this is why George isn’t home yet. He was scheduled to be reunited next week – three weeks after my foot op. Instead he’s staying on in the countryside till Thursday – and then he’ll be with Stanley for the rest of the time before we are reunited next weekend.
I’ve also checked with the concierge at the Hilton Belgrade that the two restaurants where we will be celebrating are both dog-friendly. And they have made a vet appointment for our return.
Our bags are packed.
And with Forthglade as our travel food – all packed – we are ready for our next adventure! No worries about freezing it – and promise of solid poos! Hooray!
Of course it would be so much easier, and so much cheaper – and less time to just fly in and out for a birthday celebration – but travelling with one of my two best buddies is always a more pleasant journey no matter how long the way.