The bus pulled in from Zagreb to Pula, Croatia and our 3rd Air BnB host was waiting to pick us up and take us out to the apartment. For some reason, he decided to upgrade us to his nicest apartment for free... All good with us! The place was on the top floor of an apartment block not too far, but a little, out of town and from the balcony you could see the Adriatic Sea in two directions. Only problem was that there wasn't Internet, although the posting said there was, and we needed it to get in touch with our dear friend Linda who was flying over from London for a long weekend. We hit the town and wandered unsuccessfully searching for a place with WI-FI until we got to the city center where apparently there is free public WI-FI. Pula, Croatia... Who knew? We got in touch and devised our plan for meeting up and then hit the grocery store for some supplies and settled into a nice, chill evening. The TV at our spot only got Arabic stations which made for interesting viewing... Al Jazeera and the Iranian gem, Press TV, kept us well entertained and informed.
In the morning we took a jog out and along the water. It was gorgeous. Crystal clear water and a bunch of fish swimming right off the path we jogged along. Pula is definitely a resort town, but we were well into the off season so the place is pretty well void of tourists and I suspect the spot we jogged would have been crawling with them had it been a few months earlier. As it was we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Too bad it was just a bit too cold for a swim.
We got to the bus station at 12:30 and it wasn't too long before we spied a solo backpacker walking into the bus station- Linda had made it. We took the bus out to our pad and put down her things and then headed back into town to do the, somewhat limited, sightseeing that Pula offered. One thing that we didn't realize is that Pula was once a big city for the Romans and there are the ruins of a 2000+ year old Coliseum, much smaller then Rome's, but still quite impressive. You can see everything that Pula has to offer in about 2hrs, and we did, so headed back to the apartment to watch the sunset from the balcony and enjoy a pre dinner drinks- Calimochos, as they are Linda's favorite. For dinner we headed directly across the street (literally 15 yards from our spot) to a tiny restaurant called "Gina's". We had, correction- Gina had noticed it earlier and of course we had to give it a try. And, I'll tell you it DID not dissapoint! Seriously up there for meal of the trip so far. Linda and I split the sheep cheese and Croatian prosciutto starter and G had a bowl of fresh tomato soup and some of our cheese. For mains I had seafood risotto, G had shrimp with homemade pasta and Linda ordered a stuffed scallop and she got a piece if chicken stuffed with cheese and cured meat- much to her delight. I guess there is another translation for "scallop" here that means chicken. We saw on Tripadvisor that sometimes Gina (who sat in the corner like a creep watching us eat the whole evening) sometimes will offer comp Lemoncellos to finish off the meal...so we ordered a round including one for her, hoping they'd be offered on the house. They weren't and it turns out she doesn't drink. And, to boot, they brought Orangecello instead...not as if we cared much! We were exceedingly happy with our meals and left full and cheerful from some delicious local wine.
That night we stayed up a bit longer then we should have, but it's not our fault. Pula has one of the most b****ing radio stations you'll ever find and they kept bumping solid gold all night. Pair that with a few bottles of wine and some catching up with an old friend; these things happen.
In the morning the apartment owner came and picked us up and took us to the Pula airport where we were planning on renting a car. On the way there we had some good banter with our host, discussing the merrits of Phil Collins (unanimously considered awesome- except for Gina who has never forgiven him for his rat like appearance and massive head) and Seal, who our host called a, and I quote here: "p**** .
The airport was a ghost town and I mean deserted, it was sunday and there were only a few flights that day. We walked up to the only rental car company that was open, Europcar and inquired about a car. "No cars", replied the man, and then, before I could say anything further, he was back fiddling his computer.
OK, we'll get online and call a few of the other companies to see if they had any. "Internet broken", said the woman at the café.
Right. We sat down for a few minutes to figure out our options.
OK, we'll try to use this payphone to call. But, it was one of those sketchy ones where you swipe credit card first and they reveal pricing later. I hate payphones.
Unsure of what to do next I reapproached our friend at Europcar to inquire about the other companies. "Yes, they come today ... but not till 4 pm". It was 11:15am so the prospect of sitting and rotting at that airport for almost 5 hours was a hellish one. Then... a small miracle: "You need car for one day?" asked the man.
"Yes, one day." I replied. I thought I had been pretty clear about that on my first inquiry.
"You have credit card?".
"Of course, I have a credit card".
"OK, I give you 10% discount and free insurance. You take?"
So, in just a few minutes time this dude went from stonewalling us and, judging by the tone in his voice, wishing us a slow and painful death, to offering us a discount and full insurance. Sweet!
As soon as I presented my credit card the man's tune changed entirely. He was now sweet as pie as he walked us to the car and gave us tips on where to go. Within a few minutes we were on the open road headed north.
Travel lesson of the day: If you don't get a good answer the first time you ask, wait 10 minutes and ask again.