Friday was our last full day in Europe, but that didn’t mean we were slowing down…we were going to see every last thing that we could! We got all our luggage downstairs to be held and checked out since we weren’t going to be picked up until 2:30, then we were off for our last tour.
We had booked another tour with Urban Adventures called Socialism in the City. It was a beautiful morning after all the rain the day before, and we enjoyed the walk to the meeting location on a clear, crisp morning.
We arrived at the designated meeting location at 9:40 for our 10:00 tour and proceeded to wait. We waited, and waited, and waited. I think you know where this is going. I stayed in one spot while Jim walked all around the area, but unfortunately we never saw anyone even remotely resembling a guide.😢 After an attempt to reach Urban Adventures by phone once and by email twice we carefully documented our presence at the location and gave up. I guess we’re fortunate that in three weeks of travel with the number of tours we had scheduled this was only our second glitch. We were refunded by Urban Adventures a few days after we got home, but it took some effort on my part and I am glad I had the documentation of our wait.
We certainly weren’t going to spend time pouting about the tour and waste our last hours in Ljubljana! I sputtered and fussed a bit (nothing unusual!😊) then we were on to Plan B! Actually, we didn’t have a Plan B, but we made one up as we went along! Plan B meant we did our own thing, aka we wandered around and stopped to see anything that interested us. Our morning included time at the market, a visit to the cathedral, a little shopping for Cindy😁, and lunch at Guzjina.
This picture of salted chocolates is from the Piranske Soline website. I just went into the pantry to take a picture of the ones that we purchased, but it appears that we either have a rodent problem or a my husband has a sweet tooth!
Despite the beautiful morning we had rain off and on, but again it didn’t really stop us. While we were walking back to the hotel we did have quite a downpour, but luckily the heavy rain held off while we were out sightseeing. It really was very Texas-like. We went from brilliant sunshine and mostly blue skies to a downpour with no warning, then back to sunshine just as quickly!
Our driver was right on time and we left Ljubljana at 2:15. At this point, at least in my mind the trip was over with the exception of getting home. It took some time to cross the border, and we made a stop in the tiny Croatian town of Samobor which was a nice break in the drive.
These girls were pretty funny. They knew I was taking their picture, and the longer I stood nearby with my camera the more expressive they became. Just in case you were wondering, the selfie craze is anything but an American phenomenon!
We saw a really neat tradition in Samobor. Wedding processions are composed of not only the wedding party, but the guests as well. Before the ceremony, the group parades through town, led by a banner holder (Barjaktar) who carries the Croatian flag at the front of the procession as they make their way to the church or town hall. It was our lucky day, because we saw two wedding parties in our short visit to Samobor. One group was on their way to the cathedral, and another couple was leaving a church and strolling through the park with their guests following them.
Unfortunately, it was all downhill after our stop in Samobor. In part it was because in my mind vacation was over, we just weren’t home yet, but it was also because I knew that even though we were still in Europe, our fun was behind us.
We stayed at the Hotel Royal Airport in Velika Gorica, right by Zagreb airport. This hotel was a huge disappointment (despite its #1 Trip Advisor rating) and I would not stay there again. We pre-paid for a deluxe room and got a standard room – by the time I realized the mistake I didn’t want to bother with a move. As if that wasn’t enough, the staff was never able to get our air conditioning to work, and it was stuffy in the room even with the window open. I also chose the hotel with the understanding they had a shuttle service to the airport, which they did. The problem was they didn’t have a shuttle that ran when we needed to go.🙁
We had dinner in the restaurant right there at the hotel, which was OK, but certainly wasn’t up to the culinary or ambiance standards we’d set over the course of the previous three weeks! We had a kind of odd experience in the restaurant. I think the only occupants of the hotel were the two of us and a large group of tourists who spoke no Croatian or English. They were occupying 2 big tables in the restaurant when we arrived, and were obviously (and loudly🙄) very frustrated by the lone waiter’s inability to understand what they wanted. All of a sudden they got up en masse and stormed the bar to use the restaurant’s computer! They were searching for images of what they wanted! This went on for quite a while – so long I had to leave before I lost my temper! The group didn’t care at all that there were other customers (us) in the restaurant. They weren’t budging until they got their way. It was one of the rudest and most bizarre exhibitions of bad tourist behavior I’ve ever seen.😢
Once we were finally able to order our food came fairly quickly. Sorry, no food pictures were taken at the Hotel Royal Airport! Our dinner provided sustenance, but nothing worth wasting memory space on!😂 We didn’t linger over our meal.
We took a quick walk around the tiny village after dinner, but we went back to our room fairly quickly because I still had to do some work on the suitcases to redistribute the weight.🙄 As soon as that was done we went to bed. Our alarms (yes, we set more than one!) went off at 4:15 Saturday morning, and vacation was truly over.😭
The flight home was long but mostly uneventful. We were a little surprised in Frankfurt to discover the Lufthansa method of boarding the huge A380 with 500+ passengers was to say, “Everyone can board!” We wondered why people were lining up so early, and now we know. The line was endless!
We did have a bit of an issue after we boarded. We weren’t too worried about overhead space because we were in Premium Economy and the available space was plentiful on the trip over. When we boarded in Frankfurt we discovered the two ladies behind us had decided they shouldn’t have to have anything interfering with their foot space under the seats in front of them (ours) and had put ALL their bags in the overhead compartment. They had more than the maximum allowed number of bags, and had completely filled “our” space with their stuff! The flight attendants were great! They made room for Jim’s bag overhead and put mine in the locker across the aisle from my seat. There was an uncomfortable moment in the process though…Jim muttered something to me about the ladies being selfish, and they heard him. One of the ladies took exception to that and started to defend herself/argue with us, but stopped pretty quickly when neither of us responded. As early as we’d gotten up and as many hours as we had in front of us, we weren’t in the mood for trouble!
Warning…rant ahead! Just my opinion, but it really IS selfish and rude for people to board and take more than their fair share of overhead space. I had the same thing happen to me coming back from NJ in December. The couple who boarded in front of me put their rolling carry-ons AND their backpacks in the bins on both sides of the aisle, and I then had to move a bunch of stuff to make room for my bag. Even when announcements were made about sharing the overhead bins and flight attendants were trying to create more space, the two of them just sat there smugly with their legs stretched all the way out under their seats.😡 Flying is stressful enough these days, and it seems like there are a lot of passengers who compound the problems and make the experience even worse for everybody! OK – I got that off my chest, now back to the flight home.
The flight itself was great. We had decent food and very attentive service. I didn’t sleep which is no surprise, but I did watch a couple good movies and looked through my pictures from the last few days of the trip. Arrival was uneventful, but it seemed like it took forever to get our luggage. I guess that’s the downside of being on such a big plane when every single piece of luggage has to be claimed to go through customs. The luggage just kept coming, seven or eight new pieces at a time. Luckily all of ours finally arrived and we were out of the airport and home shortly after 3:00 – or 10:00 p.m. in Europe. I know I whine about it because I really don’t like the “getting there” or “getting home” parts, but for an 18 hour travel day things couldn’t have gone much better than they did.
We would go back and do this trip again tomorrow if we could! I’ll wrap everything up in another post with what we learned, what we’ll repeat, and what we’ll do differently next time!