Travel report 2017


The wiry figure walked hurriedly through the rows of waiting tourists, repeating the same sentence: "You have to stand on the footpath, you're in England now. You have to stand on the footpath, you're in England now." Although his demand was quite clear, not many people moved from their position on the road to the footpath.

Several minutes later an offical walked down the roadway dryly repeating the following sentence: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you do not step off the road onto the footpath, in a few minutes the soldiers will march over you and stamp you into the ground!". Everyone went quiet and without a word stepped back onto the footpath. A short time later the new members of the guard for Windsor Castle, accompanied by a miltary band, marched up the road where minutes before the tourists had thronged in masses. Welcome to Windsor!

Dubrovnik, a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon in October. "What do you think you're doing? Where are you from?" were the two questions which intruded into my life from the off as I walked out of the baggage area with my travel partner to get to the car for the transfer to our hotel.

“What am I doing?” I asked myself. Well, I'm going to the car for the transfer, I thought, but before I could answer the questions, a man appeared as if out of nowhere and stopped us. A big man, dressed in an official uniform. Actually, a very big man, evidently angry, a member of the Croatian immigration authorities. He repeated his questions, not giving me time to answer them before he added new questions and demands: "Do you not realise you're in Croatia? Do you not realise I could lock you up? This is a security zone. Who do you think you are, walking around this zone? Give me your passport!" I was momentarily stunned by the verocity of his attack, but every time I tried to reply to him, he launched a new wave of questions. Eventually, in a break in his barrage, I explained to him that my partner’s luggage had not arrived, which is why she had to fill out a baggage reclaim form, and in the time she was doing this I’d exited the security zone twice to make sure our driver was waiting for us. Each time I’d walked through immigration and customs without encountering an official. This didn’t really placate him and finally, as I was about to tell him to lock me up and let me, in the good old Irish tradition, begin a hunger strike, he thrust my passport back into my hand and turned on his heel. We were free to leave the airport (The missing suitcase arrived four days later, having not made the 30-minute transfer in Vienna airport). Welcome to Croatia!


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