Saturday, June 16, 2018

Jun 15/16 - and off we go

I actually got out for a ride on our day of departure, getting in 80+ kms and some climbing.  That felt good.  My next significant riding will be the SVS 1200k. 

We left Hemmingford around 3:30, Jim and Sheryl providing chauffeur service.  We had an early dinner at Scores, as usual, in the airport vicinity.  That restaurant has the most wonderful salad bar ... where else have we seen guacamole and hummus in a salad bar ?

Check-in went smoothly although the airport was crazy busy.  I know the drill with my bike bag ... off to oversized.  Nope, no firearms inside, just a bicycle.  The nice big scanner confirmed that and we were on our way to security.  Very busy but well organized, we were through, found a wine bar and then boarded.  The flight left a little early, arrived in Venice a little early and all of our bags made it.  The bike box/bag was about 10 minutes after the first three, coming down the normal carousel. 

Immigration was simply a matter of showing our passports.  There were no customs forms to complete, nothing.  Off we went for ... a coffee ... and then the car rental.  That too went well and we were in our Fiat 500 on the way out of the country.  We stopped a few times for coffee, a snack and a stay-awake stretch. 

At one of those stops in Italy we purchased the Slovenia Vignette, required for driving on the motorway.  Like toll booths, you occasionally go through scanners and must have that displayed on your windshield or the fines are huge.  We paid the monthly flat rate of 30 Euros. I think that we overpaid, buying it in Italy, but that was the easy way out.  We'll have to buy one for Bulgaria today.  Croatia and Serbia, like Italy, have regular toll booths where you pay money based on distance traveled. 

Slovenia looked wonderful.  They deal in Euros.  Croatia has its own currency.  The one toll both in Croatia that we hit before stopping in the Zagreb suburbs charged 7 Kuna = .96 Euros.  That will show up on my credit card :). For dinner we had a couple of glasses of wine each and the free barbecue that is "tradition" with the World Cup ... that came to 56 Kuna = 8 Euros.  We had gotten very personalized service at that bar and I gave the girl 20 Euros.  My wife isn't often a cheap date, but was that time !  Today we'll drive through Serbia (Dinar) and into Bulgaria (Lev).  We'll be in Bulgaria for a while, so we will have to hit an ATM.  It looks like the Dinar is worth a little less than one Euro cent and the Lev is about 50 cents. 

Croatia vs Nigeria hadn't quite started by the time we left the bar but it was getting busier.  Many people were wearing the red and white check of the team.  Faces were painted.  Oh ... and everyone, it seems, smokes.  Cars driving by were honking; displaying their colors.  I see that Croatia won their match ... whew !

My comfort zone has now expanded to include Slovenia and Croatia. I expect that Bulgaria will soon be in that list and Serbia will be a drive-through. 

Sometime today we'll change time zones again.  Bulgaria is in the same time zone, 7 hours ahead of Eastern, the same as Moscow and Tel Aviv. 

Onward !

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