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Philadelphia - Day 1 Sunday 9/1

Our travel odyssey begins, but will we ever leave PHL?


View Croatia 09/2019 on Cybercsp's travel map.

Our Niche Touring literature listed our trip dates as September 1st through the 13th. Since air was not included as part of our tour, I assumed that we needed to be in Croatia, ready to begin touring on the first day of September. Wrong. The first day of the trip was considered to be our travel date. Whoops...well, we figured, there are worse things than an extra day in Croatia, right? We were about to find out.

So, here is what happened...

Yesterday, we left the house at 2:15 PM, and had cleared TSA at Philadelphia International by 3:30 PM, 2 hours and 20 minutes before our scheduled takeoff (I know my kids are sniggering, but we are all about mitigating travel stress). We arrived back at 154 Laurie Lane this morning at 2:20 AM. WHAT? Grab a glass of wine, here is the story.

Our AMERICAN AIRLINES plane was loaded and ready to go 20 minutes before scheduled takeoff. The captain, in his upbeat voice, welcomed us, but mentioned that some paperwork needed to be completed and, "as soon as it's done", we should be ready for an on time departure. After about 30 minutes, that same upbeat voice announced that there was a "just a little problem" with the backup computer that is used to issue alerts to the pilot, and we can't leave without a backup. It seems that the part to fix this has to come from the warehouse (Amazon.com?) and the captain doesn't know how long it should take, but he didn't think it would be too long. It was too long. The next 'glitch,' the captain noted, (now in an increasingly therapeutic voice) was that while the part had arrived, the software was old and had to be reloaded. (The software probably matched the drop down screens for entertainment and lack of charging stations for the devices you would need to entertain yourselves.) Again, no idea of departure time. Meanwhile, every 20 minutes. AA.com alerted my cellphone that we were delayed another 20 minutes (as if we did not know). After three hours of sitting on the plane (they did give us water and you were allowed to use the restroom or even deplane if you wanted, although they were very clear that they would leave without you), the software was still being loaded. (Charlie thinks that they were typing in the code and not downloading it). At the three hour mark, we were all forced to leave the plane while they continued to load the software. We took this as a bad sign and, at this point, we knew we had missed our connecting flights. In the terminal, they had drinks (non-alcoholic...seriously?), hoagies, and snacks for us. A veritable AA party. Then, we sat at the gate for ANOTHER three hours before they finally cancelled the flight at 12:15 AM. UGH. At this point, I was so tired that I actually believed that I could sleep on the flight...

So, now there are many TIRED people with questions and problems (and a fair number of them do not speak English). The first apologetic announcement is that there are no hotel rooms in Philadelphia (sold out for Made in America festival), so hotel vouchers will be for places far afield. Like maybe King Of Prussia, but there is a mall there. Where do we find our checked luggage? NO PROBLEM, says the gate agent (who has been reminding us every 15 minutes that she is not responsible for the delay), just go down to baggage claim and pick up your luggage. Of course, that means that we have left the secure airport and cannot re-enter. When we got there, we were informed that luggage will NOT be unloaded but instead sent on to its final destination. The only question now is... will we be reunited with our luggage in Split? By the way, the baggage office man did thank me for not yelling at him and gave me two toiletry packs. So, there's that.

For the next hour, while sitting in the baggage claim area in those OH-SO-COMFORTABLE plastic seats, listening to loud (but mercifully decent) music, Charlie was on the phone for over an hour with American Airlines to arrange for our PLAN B flights. Amazingly, they were very helpful and were able to arrange a one stop flight: Philadelphia - Frankfurt - Split that leaves Sunday, 9/2 at 5:40 PM. As I write this, we have already received a notice that the plane is delayed 20 minutes.

We are starting to board at 6:00PM. Wish us luck.


No Photos today.

Posted by Cybercsp 14:46 Archived in USA Tagged croatia Comments (1)

Prologue

Bok (hello) and Dobrodošao (welcome) to our blog!


View Croatia 09/2019 on Cybercsp's travel map.

Many of you have asked us. "Why Croatia?"...so let's start with that. When visiting the Philadelphia Travel Show, we met Jane Ruth and her husband, Jay, founders of Niche Touring. Jane and Jay organize and lead small group tours to Croatia twice a year, in May and September. Their "niche" is a focus on straying "off the beaten path." Their trips offer more personal experiences with stays in smaller, often family-owned accommodations and visits to smaller family-operated restaurants and vineyards. That sounded delightful to us.

Let's begin with a little historical background: The Eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea is known as the Dalmatian Coast. Dalmatia's name is derived from an ancient tribe (the Dalmatae) who lived in the area of the eastern Adriatic coast in the 1st millennium BC. (In case you wondered, this also is the area of origin of the Dalmatian dog.) Croatia is part of the region formerly known as Yugoslavia. After World War I, six Slavic states were consolidated to form Yugoslavia, which translates to "Land of the South Slavs." While the inhabitants spoke a common language, the regions had different histories, beliefs, and distinct identities. After World War II, Yugoslavia was subdivided along ethnic lines into six republics, governed under communist rule by Marshal Tito ("President for Life"). After Tito's death in 1980 and the fall of communism, the Yugoslavian union began to pull apart. In 1991, Slovenia and Croatia each declared their independence, and as each region asserted itself, there was domestic strife that included nationalistic "ethnic cleansing." The Croatian War of Independence ended in 1995, with the Bosnian conflict sometimes referred to as "a war within a war." I suspect that we will be learning a lot more about this as the trip unfolds.

Let's end this prologue with a fun fact: Croatia is the birthplace of the necktie. In the early 17th Century, Croatian soldiers would be given a narrow scarf by a loved one to symbolize love and remembrance, and thousands of Croatian soldiers wore them when they were sent to France to fight in the Thirty Years' War. It is said that King Louis XIV admired these jaunty neckerchiefs and took to wearing one himself. Voilà ...a new fashion was born. King Charles II of England, who was in exile in France during this time jumped on the fashion bandwagon, eventually returning to England with what the French called a "croate." The word eventually morphed into "cravat" (a synonym for necktie). Love them or hate them, thank the Croatians for the necktie.

If all goes as planned, we will leave Philadelphia at 6:50 PM tonight (Saturday, 8/31), and after connecting flights in Zurich and Zagreb, will (finally) arrive in Split. Thanks for following along and let the trip begin....

No photos today.

Posted by Cybercsp 13:42 Archived in USA Tagged croatia Comments (0)

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