Now for the rest of the trip…
Monday, July 7
Weâ€™re about to land in Frankfurt. Itâ€™s 11 am local time. I tried to sleep but the teenage foreign exchange student next to me had a bladder the size of a walnut.
As we come in for landing, I see the city of Frankfurt and recognize the tower in The Bourne Supremacy. I wish I had more time to run into town and snap a picture of it.
11.15 am (Local Time)
I have 45 minutes to catch my flight. Iâ€™m still on the plane. Not good.
They pick us up off the tarmac in these cool lift buses and I get dropped off right in front of my gate. Life is good!
Flight delayed for a bit. But we are in the air headed to Zagreb. Plane is full but I learned a valuable piece of information. Lufthansa serves free beer on their flights. I have a German White Beer and itâ€™s very good.
In Zagreb. Half of plane is missing their luggage. Including me. Iâ€™m supposed to catch the 3.15 bus to Porec. Not going to happen. I leave an address with Lufthansa – where Iâ€™m staying as well as two cell numbers to call if anything wrong happens. Never mind the fact that I can’t get either number to work. (I learn why later.)
I try to buy a calling card. Hereâ€™s where the quirkiness of Eastern Europe can be seen. Imagine a bank counter with 4 workers, none of them busy. I walk up to the first one, ask to buy a calling card – 50 kuna.
I hand her my Visa, she hands me a 50 kuna bill. I pause. I restate slowly that I need a CALLING CARD. She smiles annoyingly at the stupid American and says – â€œI know. Take this 50 to the next window to buy the card.â€
The next window is RIGHT NEXT TO HER. So she hands me the 50 through the window. I slide over to the next window, put the 50 back through the window and the lady gets me my calling card. She puts the 50 back in the same drawer that the other lady originally grabbed it from.
Using a phone in a foreign country is one of the most frustrating experiences in the world. In a cafe, you can at least point or mime what you want to eat. There is the opportunity for nonverbal communication. Not on a phone.
The dial tone is different. The pattern of numbers is different. In Europe, you have to dial 00 in front of every international call, just a 0 in front of a local call. This would have been good information to have BEFORE I started calling people.
Finally, some woman had pity on me and helped me out.
Finally on a bus from airport to bus station. The next bus is at 5.30 arriving in Porec at 9.30. So a 4 hour bus ride is in front of me. Most folks speak English so I can get by. My German is rudimentary enough to get by as well – like buying a coke and these cool little pastries…like a croissant sprinkled with powdered sugar.
I’m on the bus. It’s a big, comfortable luxury liner compared to the airplane. And the countryside of Croatia is stunningly beautiful. Towns that have churches and buildings older than our country.
I take some pictures – not many of them turn out well. I still have my memories. I catch some sleep but not much.
In Porec. The bus station is right across the street from the market which is on the marina. I can smell the saltwater and the seafood. I love it. It’s hot. It’s humid. Tom and Val aren’t here yet. I call – they are about 30 minutes away. I’ve got time to browse the market.
ICE CREAM!!!!! My ultimate comfort food. Any student that has ever traveled with me knows the importance of ice cream. No missions trip or student trip is complete without multiple trips for ice cream. This is Italian Ice Cream. It is smooth and creamy – Lime Flavored. Like Brazil.
It is heavenly.
Reunion with Tom and Val. Tom and I grab a beer and pizza on the dock. It’s surreal on one hand – here we are sitting by the Adriatic Sea drinking a Croatian brew talking as if we’ve never missed a day. It’s deep, intentional, and intensely meaningful. It feels like home even though I’ve never been in this place before.
Shower. Bed. Sleep. I write some notes in my journal. My day will start in 7 short hours. No jet lag. Good sleep is the prayer. And the words and wisdom to touch the lives of these teens.