Getting to Barcelona was much easier than leaving. Well, to be completely accurate, it was so easy for Mimi to leave that she did it twice!
I’ll explain the best I can but don’t expect all of it to make sense. What you can expect is a story that will demonstrate that traveling isn’t all pictures of margaritas by the pool at sunset. In our travels, we have had some great nearly perfect moments. This isn’t one of them. Things happen when you travel as much as we do. Roads are occasionally bumpy. Our hair isn’t always perfect. Food poisoning isn’t an Instagram moment worth sharing and sometimes we just plain screw up what should be the simplest of things. Which brings us to our moving day from Barcelona to Dubrovnik.
We were at the airport checking in for our flight to Dubrovnik when we were told that our cats weren’t cleared for the flight.
That was news to us since I had talked to the airline about taking them with us, but for some reason, the airline never officially cleared the cats for the trip. I was foolish to think that common sense is a common thing. Airlines have rules about how many pets per flight can ride in the cabin of the airplane. So, they need clearance before they can fly. I assumed that when I told the ticket agent we were flying with our two cats in the cabin, that everything was fine. Apparently, I didn’t specifically ask for them to get clearance, so the ticket agent never bothered. “Why?” would have been a great question to ask at that moment but I knew there wouldn’t be a good answer. At least one that wouldn’t annoy me tremendously. So, being that it’s best not to upset anyone at an airport these days, I just focused on trying to solve the problem.
Mimi was sick. Really sick, with a fever, chills, and everything horrible that comes along with the flu.
After being told that there was no way that they could get clearance for the cats before our flight left, we had to decide. We’re standing at the check-in counter with 2 pieces of luggage, a case with a guitar and bass in it, a backpack with our computers, a very large case with my keyboard that is just barely within the limits of being allowed on the plane, a carry-on bag, and two bags with our cats in them. No one is happy now. And it only got worse.
I thought I was being logical by suggesting she go with the luggage. I would stay behind with the cats to try to book another flight.
I figured that a friendly taxi driver would help her with the luggage once she arrived in Dubrovnik. I also assumed that once she arrived at our new apartment the Airbnb host would pitch in as well. What I didn’t know was that a little old lady taxi driver would fight the other, much larger taxi drivers, to get Mimi as her fare. She chain-smoked her way to our new place. She refused to help with any of the luggage. And as an added bonus, she dropped Mimi off at a busy corner half a block away and over a hundred steps below our new apartment.
So, there she is with the flu and a pile of luggage. She has no idea where our new apartment is. There’s a cluster of homes stacked up on the hillside in front of her. Nothing about the situation promises to make this easy.
Our phone is not a traditionally working phone. It’s not part of a network, so it only works on wi-fi. So, there’s no way for her to get a hold of the host from where she’s standing on the corner. She can’t leave the luggage to go find a café with wi-fi, so she’s stuck. She’s in a country she’s never been to before. She doesn’t speak any Croatian. We know no one who lives there. She has our mound of luggage which constitutes everything we own. My keyboard case alone probably weighs more than she does and it’s nearly as tall. I can’t even imagine how she felt at that moment.
In a stroke of luck and mercy, a lady passing by saw Mimi’s predicament. She spoke enough English to get her story and took pity on her.
She knew who our host was and was nice enough to go find him. Our host Zlatan, this unknown saint of a lady, and Mimi proceed to carry all of our stuff up the one hundred plus stairs to our new home. But wait, it gets worse.
There’s no food or water in the new apartment. She’s starving because she hasn’t eaten anything all day. And after a long day of traveling, with all that she’s been through, she needs to go to the store.
She’s new in town, of course, so she asked Zlatan where the store was. The store turns out to be about a half mile away and down a hill. Which isn’t so bad until she had to walk back uphill carrying food and bottles of water, with the flu. But wait it gets worse.
Meanwhile, I’m still back in Barcelona trying to find a way to get the cats and myself to Dubrovnik as quickly as possible.
I was still at the airport trying to book a later flight when I learned another airline rule. The rule that states only one pet per passenger. The next available flight that I can get, which allows pets, is in three days. I needed to get online with my laptop to figure this all out. There had to be other options.
We had stayed in a pet-friendly hotel for a couple of days before our failed attempt to reach Dubrovnik as a family. It was early in the morning and I was crossing my fingers that the room we had just checked out of hadn’t been cleaned yet. There was a litterbox that I had wrapped in a trash bag still in the room. I knew that transportation would take a while to figure out and I needed to get the cats set back up with what they needed. So, I grab the cats and hail a taxi, hoping that they hadn’t cleaned the room yet. I check back in with two cats, my laptop, and the clothes on my back for what will be another three-day stay. I was lucky enough to get our old room and the cats litter box was still there. One less thing to buy at least. Thank you Primero Primera Hotel. You guys were awesome!
I put the cats in the room, caught another taxi to a pet store, and bought fresh cat litter and cat food.
I wasn’t fooling with the old litter and their food had been packed in the luggage that Mimi had. So, I get the cats all set up and break out my laptop. I futilely start my search for any option faster than the three days. Even with the search power of Google, I’m discovering that I’ll have to wait. There’s not a ton of flights going to Dubrovnik at that time of year and there’s even less that will allow pets. After several more calls from the hotel to the airline, I’m now faced with a dilemma. I’m either taking two solo flights with one cat at a time or asking Mimi to fly back to Barcelona to make the trip with me. Again.
This might be a good time to mention that she doesn’t like to fly.
She does it because she wants to see the world, and airports have whiskey. But she really does not like to fly. After our Skype conversation, I was going to take a solo trip twice. I felt so bad for her and everything that she had to go through. I really didn’t want her to have to get on another airplane.
With a lack of flight options that allowed cats, she ended up flying back to Barcelona. She was still sick and I did the best nurse impersonation that I could manage. I felt so bad that I would have given her anything she asked for. She’s a strong woman though and she did it all without complaint. After two days of some much-needed sleep, she felt a little better. We finally managed to board a flight with our two cats and flew to Dubrovnik, where we promised each other that we would never travel separately again.