First time I arrived in Zagreb was a cold December night about two years ago. Having been fined on a tram in Belgrade, stranded in a snowy middle of nowhere part of the town, we had finally taken a train to Zagreb. Due to the snow, the ride had taken an extra 3 hours getting us in a Zagreb at 23:00 starving and not being able to find any open food-eateria, except for a kiosk in the train station that served ‘gourmet’ sandwiches and paprika flavoured crisps. This time it was an easy flight from LGW, nevertheless not in the least less adventurous.
A day before our departure, I buy a new suitcase slightly bigger than the tiny one I have. At the shop I can’t choose between a lime green and a purple one. I decide to go with the latter as it is still a very distinct colour, my favourite one and would match with the bigger size suitcase I already have.On the day of the departure and while walking towards our gate for boarding, one of the airport cars bypasses us, carrying four passengers, amongst them an elderly lady. I can’t help but notice that a member of the group carries the exact same suitcase as mine. ‘Good job, it’s a hand-luggage,’ I think, ‘otherwise, we might have had problems once both of them appeared on the conveyor belt.’
A few hours later, we land at hot and sunny Pleso airport in Zagreb. In order to reach the town from there, one needs to get on the Croatian airlines bus and get off at the central bus station. At that point, I think it’s a good idea to take my passport out of my bag and put it in my suitcase, as I will no longer need it. I’m sure you all know where this is going, but please allow me to carry on with the narration!
Upon arrival to our hostel, we are naturally asked for our passports. I open the aforementioned suitcase to take out mine. And this is where the nightmare begins. The first things I lay my eyes on are a pair of red children’s sandals and a black coat. ‘No,no, I’m dreaming,’ I think to myself and immediately close the suitcase, to open it again within seconds. ‘I don’t believe this,’ I say, ‘this is not my suitcase, this cannot be happening to me,’ and lie on the floor in front of the reception, thinking that my suitcase is on its way to God knows where and not only my passport but the rest of my belongings are in it. I want to pull my hair, start screaming, cry, curse my luck, get angry with myself. Instead, I frantically start going through the stuff in the suitcase I had unwillingly inherited to find a lot of pills, some seeds, pictures and oversized bras. Luckily also a name, which sounds to me as the most common of names in that part of the world. I’m doomed, I think to myself.
The rest of the day includes a trip to the bus station, international telephone calls, a very unhelpful easy jet customer service and the wrong suitcase stuck with me. By the time we return to our hotel, I’m so exhausted, I have lost the will to even complain about the whole event. I simply die.
The following morning, I attempt a second look at the suitcase with the false hope, it was all a bad dream. I only face the same reality of the previous day. Oversized bras and clothes. Our first stop is the pharmacist for contact lenses serum, the supermarket for make up, shower gel and a new toothbrush and finally a clothes shop for a new dress (yes any excuse will do). From there we decide to go ahead with our pre-booked Segway Tour (highly recommended) and a little bit of sightseeing.
Following that was the same reality which was well-kept in the cursed purple suitcase. A trip to the bus station, a telephone conversation with the lost and found of Pleso airport, a trip back to the hotel to pick up the suitcase ( a lovely cab driver took us back for free and released us from the cause of all my problems), Greek Embassy in Zagreb to report the lost passport and get a temporary travel document (in there I felt proud for being Greek, no one can match us in hospitality, big thank you for their help) underwear shopping and a cancellation of our train to Split that night. Once more I was beyond the point of being simply exhausted.
And while eating (food was my only consolation at that point) my phone rings. ‘It’s a Croatian phone number,’ I exclaim to my boyfriend. I pick it up, ‘hello, hello’ I say and all I can hear is the echo of my voice. I try in panic to call back the number but there’s no answer. There is a voicemail, however, announcing that my suitcase is at the airport. I call them back but the phone number is answered by a fax machine. Argh!! Who has cursed me???
Early the next morning we head to the bus station and from there to the airport where I am finally reunited with my purple suitcase. The first thing I do is take out my sandals as my feet are roasting in the ballerinas I’ve been wearing. At that point, certain our troubles are over I hear an announcement calling my boyfriend to the information desk. ‘What have you lost?’ I ask him with fear written all over my face. He taps his pockets to discover his wallet is missing. Luckily it was found by the bus driver who took us to the airport security, where it was handed back to him. God had taken pity on us.
Moral of the story? Next time I should listen to my boyfriend insisting I draw something offensive all over my suitcase.
Big thank you to all the amazing Croatian people who helped us along the way.