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DRIVING OVERSEAS SUCKS

JAMIE BLOG POST #1

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JAMIE BLOG POST 1 - DRIVING OVERSEAS

I hate, hate, hate driving overseas!!!!!!!!

Just some quick background. Ten years ago when Shelley and I went to Europe on our honeymoon, we started our trip in Germany. We rented a car and did a day trip with no problem. On the way back, though, we got so lost. I mean, we drove around the same five square miles for THREE hours trying to find the house we were staying in. I ended up stopping and paying a cab to drive to the address so we could follow them back to the house. Then, on the same trip (and the same car) we drove to another city and it took us two hours to find the car drop off spot. We almost missed our train. Of course, this was before we had smart phones and there was no GPS in the car.

So, to say the least, I was not looking forward to renting a car this trip and driving. However, this time I would have GPS which was both a blessing and a curse. More on that later. We were driving from Split, Croatia to Plitvice National Park. First, thoug, we had to get to our room in a house that was right on the edge of the park. In this case, THANK GOD FOR GPS! There is no way in hell we would have found the place that we stayed without GPS.

We drove down some small narrow roads, but there was one road that scared the hell out of me. Did I mention I am not really a fan of heights? I am not horrified- I’ve been paragliding in the Alps and bungee jumping, but for the most part I really don’t care for heights. For example, I am not going to be the person that walks up to an edge of a tower or cliff to look over the side.

I bring this up because this very narrow road kept going up with no guard rails and in spots, there was just a straight drop off the side (sometimes there were large rocks to sort of protct the edge!). Now, luckily as I was driving up, we were the not on the cliff side but the whole time I was thinking- “tomorrow I have to come down.” If there’s a car coming the other way, I will be hugging that cliff side, a foot away from a perilously steep drop.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and I won’t run into any cars...come on, we know that is not going to happen! In the meantime, let’s enjoy the scenery before we have to drive back.

Plitvice National Park was amazing. Just beautiful waterfalls and lakes everwhere. Wooden walkways over crystal clear streams. It was worth the three hour drive and all the hiking! After a very long day, we crashed in our cute rented room.
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The next morning, our B and B hostess made us an amazing breakfast and it was time to start heading back. On our way back, we decided to take a side trip to the birthplace of Nickola Tesla, with his childhood home and a museum. Time to break out the cell phone and get directions.

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Directions loaded but the road of death awaits. At least it is at the start of the trip and I can just get it out of the way. So, off we go.

It starts off just as I want, with no cars in sight. I am in the middle of the road, staying away from the edge. White knuckling it down the road with Shelley giving me updates of how far to the turn which should put us on the big road. Only another 1.5 miles. I think, I am almost there, as I look down at cliff side on the edge of the road. Then I see it. My worst nightmare. Another car coming toward us. Except it is not a car, it is a box truck and we are at one of those drop-off sections of the road.

I think now is a good time to mention that when we rented the car online we got the small compact. You know, the cheap one. However, when I picked the car up they “upgraded” us to a SUV a little smaller than a Highlander.

As I look at the box truck coming at me and pushing me to the edge of the cliff, several things go through my mind. “Just my luck… Damn Enterprise and their upgrade… I am going to side swipe this guy and lost my $1200 deposit... God, I hope the tire doesn’t go off the edge!!!!”
I slow down as the truck moves over as far as he can. My mirror missed his by inches. Shelley is looking down the side of the cliff and all I hear is a deep breath. We just squeak by and back to the middle of the road I go. Later Shelley tells me that there was less than a foot between the tire and the edge.

We made it. Shelley tells me the turn onto the major road is coming up. We are home free! Wait… this is not how we came… was it? We make the turn, unsure of ourselves but we are going downhill so what do I care. Next turn coming up!

Now we are on a road that is even more narrow. There is no way to fit two cars. Again, if another car comes I am not sure what would happen. There is nowhere to go so let’s just hope that doesn’t happen.

We come to the next turn and I stop. This can’t be right. That is a wooden bridge that is so small I am not sure the car would fit over it! We pass it and take the next turn but it deadends. A nice man comes out and looks at us like “Dumbass tourists” but is very helpful. He tells us that yes, we do have to go over the bridge we passed. He also says, “if you go in, don’t worry- that water is not cold!”. I think, ha ha, thanks a lot! We say “hvala” and off we go.

Back to the bridge. This bridge is just wooden boards. No rails. I wouldn’t want to take my bike across this thing and now I have to drive my “upgrade” across it. Again, I can’t see the edge of the car, so I am not sure where the tires are going to hit. I go slow. Bump! That didn’t feel right. I back up and Shelley gets out of the car to walk in front and direct me. We get the car up on the bridge with less than a foot on both side and we creep across. As I drive over the boards, I feel and hear them lift up and fall back down as we go over them. But we are on the other side. One more mile on this one car road and back to the main road.

We made it to the big road!!! YES!!! I tell Savannah to cover her ears and I let out a slew of curse words. Later I figure out that we didn’t need to be on those small ass roads but the GPS sent us that way cause it was like a ¼ of a mile shorter. Damn GPS! Damn upgrades! Damn narrow roads with no rails!

Now, Plitvice was great. The Tesla home and musem was worth the vist and we also stopped at Krka National park which had an incredible waterfall, and we even got to swim at the base.
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However, I still Hate, Hate, Hate driving overseas. Even writing this my shoulders are in knots just thinking about it, but I guess it is just one of those prices you have to pay for other wonderful experiences.

Posted by tatehomberg 12:52 Archived in Croatia

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