Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Wrapping Up an Exciting Eastern European Tour--From Budva to Dubrovnik to London

Tuesday, October 4, 2016:

Wrapping Up an Exciting Eastern European Tour--From Budva to Dubrovnik to London

     We arrived finally at the last day of our travels and although both of us had a terrific time, we were both suffering from sightseeing fatigue and were ready to call it a day. Furthermore, Montenegro appeared like something of an anti-climax to us after the glories of Split and Dubrovnik—so we were not too unhappy to be returning to London.

     When I had checked, the previous day, at the bus station to confirm that our tickets from Budva to Dubrovnik would leave at 2. 30 pm, I had a slight shock. There was no bus at 2. 30 and, in fact, our tickets were issued for the 9.30 am bus. Well, what a good thing I had checked! Overall, we found the folks manning public services in Montenegro unhelpful and very surly. The language was an issue and since they did not speak it too well, we all struggled to make ourselves understood. So, in a way, we were glad that our bus was leaving at 9. 30, as this mean that we had a good several hours to spend in Dubrovnik, our favorite place, and would be ending our trip on a high note.

     Accordingly, we washed, showered, dressed, repacked and came down to the Reception of the Hotel Kangaroo with our bags and went straight to the Restaurant for our buffet breakfast. We basically stocked up well on proteins to keep us going for several hours and, once again, packed a ham and cheese sandwich with us to eat for lunch. Saying bye to the Receptionist and returning our keys, we trudged along to the Bus Station where we arrived at 9.00 am for our 9.30 am bus which left right on schedule. The bus was empty but picked up passengers in Kotor. The three hour bus ride was uneventful and comfortable and after Kotor, the Bay was, of course, stunningly beautiful to peruse from our window and the highlight really of our stay in Montenegro.

Arrival and Final Strolls in Dubrovnik:

     On arrival in Dubrovnik at about 12. 30, we decided to spend the last few hours of our time in Croatia in the city we had really grown to love. So we stashed our bags in the Left Luggage locker and took a local bus to the Old Town—once again scrapping together the few kuna we were still carrying with us.

     Once in the Old Town, we felt like veterans as we recalled how confused we had been on first arriving there in the dark, a few days previously. This time round, we knew exactly where to go and what to do. We would stroll around, pop into a couple of churches, shoot the breeze in the big open-air squares and then sit by the waterside and contemplate the sheer beauty of this lovely antiquated settlement. And that was exactly what we did. We purchased the last of our souvenirs, used up our kunas by ordering a meal and gelato at a waterfront restaurant before we departed from the city and then retraced our steps back to the bus station to take the 5.30 pm shuttle to the airport which was about 45 minutes away. We reached the airport at about 7.00 pm which was well in time to check in for our Easyjet flight back to London’s Luton airport which was to depart at 10.05 pm. All the time we kept saying how lucky we were that we had the bonus day in Dubrovnik—an unexpected delight.

Departure for London:

     It was late and we were tired but with a lot of resting at the airport, we were able to survive the wait for our flight. It was a short flight of just over two hours and we arrived at Luton at about midnight. We had made shuttle bookings on the National Express bus service to get us back to Victoria, where we reached at 1.00 am and about 1. 22 am, along came the 44 bus that took us to Battersea High Street where my friend Roz had concealed her key for us in a hiding place so that we could let ourselves inside. It was then almost 2. 45 and we were ready to crash. Luckily, she had two guest rooms ready so that we had a room each and we really did appreciate that little luxury as we lay down to sleep.


     On the morrow, we would meet Roz who would join us for breakfast and meet Chriselle for the first time…but for the moment, I fell asleep looking back upon an incredible trip with my daughter with whom I do not often get the chance to spend such prolonged periods of quality time. It was a trip we would both savor for a very long time to come and always appreciate. It had introduced us to some amazingly stunning parts of the world and offered a lot of opportunities to sample unique and interesting food and to undertake a plethora of experiences that were different and delightful such as trekking along a river surrounded by mountains, riding a train through subterranean caves filled with strange rock formations, singing under the stars to the accompaniment of a guitarist, boating to an island in the middle of a lake, ringing a Wishing Bell in a spectacular church, going up in a funicular train to a castle at the top of a mountain, scaling the walls of an ancient Town, buying interesting souvenirs in shops and flea markets, interacting with local people in public transport that was usually efficient, crossing international borders several times to have our documents scrutinized, and just gabbing for hours over steaming tea while rain drummed down upon the roof of a cafe. Yes, truly, these are the images that would remain fixed in my mind and which I would call upon often as I tried to process, over the next few weeks, the distinctive experiences we had accumulated on our travels.

     Thanks so much for following this travelogue with me. I hope you have enjoyed being an armchair traveler. I have certainly enjoyed having you by my side, if only in spirit.            

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