So, here’s what happens when you get a bit cocky on your travels. This is a salutory tale, and if you ever come to visit us, we hope you avoid the rooky errors we made…
We’d had two glorious days and nights in Venice, experiencing the festival and were due to collect a hire car in Rovinj. On previous trips to sort out the house, when we’d flown into northern Italy, we’d hired a car in Italy – but that made sense as we’d be flying back to the UK from the same Italian airport. This time, it was a one way flight. So, we did our research (or, so we thought), and booked a coach from Venice to Rovinj, where we had booked Hotel Adriatic and where we’d pick up our car at the end of the stay.
What We Did Wrong…
- Venice is a big city, but it only fleetingly occured that Venice Mestre, where the coach was to depart from, may be OUT of the city. Don’t think this fleetingly – it IS. It’s quite a way out. A train ride away in fact. And Mestre station is a bit of a shock after the culture cocoon of Venice. It’s very gritty and quite industrial and like lots of train stations, you can imagine that shady things may happen when the sun goes down. So, full kudos to the pair who were clearly waiting to catch the train into Venice, in full 17th C regalia. What are those Italians like?
- Again, rookie error. We didn’t actually CHECK where the coach to Pula (the final destination) left from. We just saw lots of bus stops outside the station and ASSUMED it would leave from one of these. After all, we PLAN things and couldn’t possibly have overlooked this vital step of the journey.
- Venice had been cold. Mestre was very warm. There was a really lovely bar across the road – where we could watch out for the coach, because we obviously knew where it was leaving from – and we decided to toast our new adventure with crisp, dry, Venetian white wine. Lovely 🙂 We were so ahead in our planning, that we even checked the bus stops and saw a sign for Rovinj, so we were sorted. But – and this is quite a big but – there was no sign for the bus company “Brioni Pula”.
- We got there early – about 10 mins before 2pm, so we couldn’t possibly miss the bus to Rovinj. Could we?
Yes, we could!! Because we hadn’t checked properly, we were at the wrong stop! Many phone calls to the company, who contacted the driver, who’d picked everyone else up on time & left at 2pm, told us we’d stuffed up. And that’s when we realised we were in a bit of a pickle. We had to get to Rovinj as we had a hotel booked, but there were no more coaches that day from Mestre. There is no train station in Rovinj, so a train was out of the question. We couldn’t hire a car and drive down as we couldn’t return it to Italy, and to leave it in Croatia would have cost a fortune. On top of the car we had already hired.
So, What Did We Do?
- Back on the phone to the coach company & explain our predicament – luckily our broken Italian was enough for us to understand that there was a 3pm train to Trieste, which, if we caught, would get us into Trieste in time to catch another coach to Rovinj. And we could use our pre-paid tickets. HURRAH!
- Only it was 2.55pm and we had to run, with four cases, to the train station. We were cutting so fine, the ticket guy just told us to “RUN!” – get on the train and pay on there. The train which we could see. On the other side of the tracks. Under the longest underground tunnel & steepest stairs – apart from Abbesses Metro Station in Paris. We literally flung ourselves onto the train, as it pulled away.
- We did pay on the train, we did get a seat, we did arrive in Trieste well before the new coach was due to leave, so what could possibly go wrong?
Indeed, what could go wrong? Well, Trieste is a beautiful city. But its bus station, near the port, ain’t. If there had been tumbleweed, it would have been tumbling. But – and this was a beautiful sight – we saw the Brioni Pula bus with “Pula” on the front. But our driver spoke no English, we spoke no Croatian and so another muddled Esperanto/Italian conversation ensued. But, we got him to understand he had to phone his office – and hallelujah, they confirmed that yes, we weren’t booked onto his coach, yes, his coach was NOT scheduled to stop in Rovinj, but yes, he was going to take us, and yes, he was going to stop in Rovinj. One #happydriver. Not 😉
Two hours later, we arrived in beautiful Rovinj. Our driver, who had been on the phone throughout the journey – or taking smoking stops – literally chucked us and our cases out. But who cared? We’d got there!
Moral Of The Story
Always, always, always forward plan. Although good luck if you decide to take the coach from Mestre to Rovinj, as we’ve still not been able to establish where it leaves from… (And no photos for this blog sadly, as the other awful consequence of a badly planned trip is all of your devices run out of juice).