Tricks of the trade when taking the bus from Rijeka to Zagreb…

When you read about the travels of  you learn about the interesting people they meet on the trains and busses of the world. I don’t typically get to meet those people. Either the locals avoid the seat next to me, or I get the rejects of society. Take for instance my trip from Rijeka to Zagreb. The bus was scheduled to leave at 1PM so I got there with plenty of time to spare. I boarded and arranged my stuff in preparation for the voyage. 

While I made it look like anyone could sit next to me by clearing my laptop bag from the seat, I secretly hoped I would get the extra space. As the departure time got closer, the bus got closer and closer to capacity. Then I saw the three older guys approaching the bus. Two of them were mostly functioning as support for the center patriarchal leader after a long celebration. I guess he want to help forget the trip to where ever he was going by getting as shit-faced drunk as possible beforehand. Each time his helpers let go for a second, he stumbled around for a second before they came back to his rescue. I watched him with amusement to see which of the many buses he would get on and then got worried as the friends shoved him on to my bus. 

OK, there are still plenty of seats for him to use before he has to come to me. He gets closer, then further away, repelled by the people standing between me an him. Whew. Then he comes back. But thankfully there was a pretty young girl with an extra seat a few rows ahead and she got to smell him for the trip. That left three of four seats available including the one next to me. 

Fast forward an hour and a half, past the crossing of the mountains, past the crying baby behind me, past the girl ahead dropping her seat onto my knees. We make a stop at some dusty little town to pickup and drop off some passengers. The drunk stumbles off and disappears. One or two other passengers get off and collect their bags. Then an old lady and her elderly son get on…oh wait, the younger one with a significant beard and moustache, it may turn out to be her daughter, though I didn’t feel it was appropriate to confirm nor deny. Anyway, the younger one places the mother in one of the empty seats, sitting in the drunk’s seat herself. 

I prayed that this was Mr.Liquor’s stop and thanked my lucky stars when the bus started moving again. But then when the bus attendant noticed there was a missing passenger, he stopped and went out looking for him. Some minutes later, the boozer falls back into the bus but then gets very confused when he sees that his seat was taken. I can’t be sure whether he was confused about the fact that someone was where he was sitting, or if he was trying to figure out if it was male or female. 

After a few more minutes, he stumbled to my seat and asked if it was occupied. Well, I assume that’s what he said. Now I couldn’t really say, no, my wife/girlfriend/friend/someone was sitting there as the bus was already moving and nobody was up and about. So he made himself comfortable. This involved a sideways lounging position using my arm and chest as a backrest. I was stunned. 

Thankfully we only had another hour to go of this. At this point, a real travel writer would tell you about what changed to make the trip a bit more comfortable for me. Well, that’s them. I will instead tell you that this is the way it continued for the rest of the journey. I tried to say a few things to him which didn’t go through, either because he spoke no English, or he was way past being sober enough to remember any English. But then after an hour we pulled into the Zagreb bus station and this memorable trip was over.

So here is the moral of the story. If you find yourself in Zagreb and feel like taking the very worthwhile trip out to Rijeka, Opatija, and the Kvarner area, I do recommend taking the bus. Its about 15 Euros (versus about 120 for a taxi) and includes some spectacular scenery. But if you are on the bus and a smelly drunk asks if he can take the seat next to you, state quite forcefully that your wife just stepped up for a moment and will be back very soon. He will be too confused to argue and you will not loose all feeling in your arm for the next few hours.

In Opatija

 

This weekend I am in Opatija, on the Adriatic coast. I will have another post on this but for now I just have to tell you this is an extremely beautiful place. Got here on Thursday evening and am leaving Sunday mid-day. Till later…

Thieves Suck!!!

As I headed out to see the Ethnographical Museum this evening, I heard a bang. But then I am in a new place with lots of new sounds. I figured it was one of the streetcars as they forced their way down the road. Then amongst all the people I saw some delinquent stroll out of the bushes in front of the hotel. I figured he had done some drugs or something and barely noticed him or his dog. On the way back to the hotel after my very short visit at the museum, I noticed there was a police officer talking to someone next to a nice VW Passat or Jetta. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the front passenger window was smashed in. The car was in the general direction of the bang I heard 30 minutes earlier so I asked if this was done recently? I am pretty sure what I heard was this guy’s car getting smashed into, and the loser coming out of the bushes was the thief. Unfortunately, I am in a new place with new sounds and sights all around me. Everyone looks different, so remembering what anyone looks like is very difficult. I didn’t have much to tell them, but I felt so bad for him, especially after nearly the same thing happened to me about 3 weeks ago at the Hotel Vianen near my office. Luckily he only lost a cheap cell phone. My thief got my laptop bag and I am still remembering little things that were in that bag. Ugh, thieves really suck!!!

A beautiful day in Zagreb

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Zagreb. It was also the first day of the Workflow class I am teaching. At lunch we went up to the top floor of the building where the company’s cafeteria is. But the highlight is that this place has a roof deck. 

Now last time I was here, a roof deck wouldn’t have been well used as it was in the upper 20s to lower 30s (I still think in Farenheit). But yesterday had to be in the upper 60s. Clear skies, minimal wind. It made for a very pleasant lunch.

The class itself (the reason I am here) is also going very well. Nine people from different departments with different skillsets makes it a bit interesting, but without that the class would be very boring for me. There is nothing you could learn from me that you can’t learn yourself with a few months of practice. What makes the class worthwhile is learning from the mistakes that are made. And with a larger group (I usually stick to 5 or 6 people), lots of different types of mistakes are made. Hopefully everyone is able to learn from those mistakes. I also like to do group exercises. Yesterday I described a scenario, split the group in two, and had them work it out. They both got the general idea, but one of the details was implemented very differently in each group. Both were completely valid solutions so I had each present their solution.

Checked in to the Westin Zagreb

Ahh, lying down in a nice comfy  Westin bed. Its been an exhausting week of very early mornings in preparation for the class I taught last week as well as the class I start tomorrow here in Zagreb. The room is very nice:

But I have one question. In the bathroom there are two things resembling a toilet. One of them is in fact a toilet. But the other is something else. Its not one of those wierd things that shoots water up to clean…erm…your…erm…well, you know. This is like a sink, but down at calf level. Best I can come up with is perhaps a foot washer. Not sure why I need that versus just bending down in the shower. But perhaps there is another more unique purpose. After all, its not like I am in a prison and have to worry about bending over in a shower. So, can anyone clue me into what this thing is?

[update]: So, Julia Lerman pointed out to me that this is in fact a bidet. I alwasys thought bidets kinda shot liquid up to…um… auto clean, but I guess that then turns it into an enema delivery vehicle. I will have to experiment with this thing…