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.
We were at the airport checking in for our flight, to move 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 can ride in the cabin of the airplane per flight, and clearance must be obtained before you book the flight. 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 while I stayed behind with the cats to try to book us on another flight. I figured that a friendly taxi driver would help her with the luggage once she arrived in Dubrovnik and 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, refused to help with any of the luggage, 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, a pile of luggage, and she has no idea where our new apartment is in the cluster of places stacked up on the hillside she’s standing in front of. Our phone only works on wi-fi, so there’s no way 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 either so she’s stuck. She’s in a country she’s never been to before, she doesn’t speak Croatian, and we know no one who lives there. She has two big suitcases, a double sized carrying case for my bass and guitar, a carry-on bag, and my keyboard case. My keyboard case probably weighs more than she does and it’s nearly as tall.
In a stroke of luck and mercy, a lady passing by saw Mimi’s predicament, spoke enough English to get the 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 hasn’t eaten anything all day, and after a long day of traveling and all that she’s been through, she needs to go to the store. The store is about a half mile away down the 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 at the airport back in Barcelona trying to find a way to get the cats and myself to Dubrovnik as quickly as possible. It was then that I learned that the airline rules state, that it’s one pet per passenger and the next available flight that I can get, that allows pets, is in three days. Figuring I needed to get online with my laptop to figure this all out, I grab the cats and catch a taxi. I find a pet friendly hotel and check in with two cats and the clothes on my back for what will be a three day stay. I put the cats in the room, caught another taxi to a pet store, and bought cat litter and cat food. I then race back to the hotel to get the cats set up before they have an accident. They’ve already been in their carrier for hours and they are not happy. I break out the laptop and futilely start my search for any option faster than the three days I’m being told I will 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 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 hates to fly. She does it because she wants to see the world, and airports have whiskey, but she really hates to fly. After our Skype conversation I was going to take the solo trip twice so that she wouldn’t have to get on another airplane. (two since it would be round trip) But we also didn’t like the idea of her being sick in a new place with no one to take care of her. She ended up flying back to Barcelona, still sick, where I pampered her with anything she wanted and did the best nurse impersonation I could manage. 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 I promised her that we would never travel separately from each other again.