Story Time- Going too far ‘off the beaten track’ in Croatia

I always have these random travel stories that sometimes just don’t fit into blog posts without sounding forced so I’m going to start… Story time, my way of regurgitating a memory from my trips abroad… enjoy.

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To give you a bit of background to this story my friends and I had hired a couple of cars to see the sites of Croatia (mainly the Dalmatia coast) and was about half way through our roadtrip. We had stayed in an amazing Air BnB the night before in the middle of nowhere (with no wifi) but was pretty sure we could find our way to our next stop which just so happened to be one of my favourite places in Croatia, Zrmanja river. I’d been there before with my Croatian friends and had looked on Google maps beforehand to try and grasp the route. It said it should take us about an hour and a half, not too bad.

We set the SATNAV (first mistake of the day) and headed in our two hire cars towards the mountains and into what we thought was Zrmanja. I was driving and following the SATNAV and thought all was good until we start heading way into the mountains. As we were coming a different way than what I was used to I carried on and just went with what the nice robot was saying (second mistake of the day.) Calculating that we had been on the road for coming up to two hours now I thought we wouldn’t be too far away from our destination. I kept an eye on the petrol gage and noticed it was about a quarter full, nothing to worry about… Zrmanja was around some small towns that would definitely have a petrol station, right? (Third mistake of the day…)

As the SATNAV takes us off a motorway into a pretty much abandoned town I start getting more and more worried about where we were. Again, not following my instinct I keep following the directions and end up driving down a dirt road big enough for just about one car. My friends were behind me completely oblivious to the fact I definitely knew we were heading in the wrong direction. As the road starts getting narrower and we start heading higher and higher into the mountains I decide to stop and ask the others for their thoughts. My mates were so chill about the situation and here I was almost having a panic attack. Just as I get back in the car to do what ended up being a 20 point turn due to the ditches either side the petrol light comes on.

Literally at that moment I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I have a fear of running out of fuel in my own country never mind in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country where all I could say was “can I have a beer?” At that moment a beer might have helped! With both cars safely turned around we headed back towards the actual roads. I was trying to limit my gas usage so was cruising most of the way back on this dusty, rocky, uneven road that felt like it was double the length that we had driven down in the first place.

We get back onto normal road and stopped at the nearest town (still about half an hour away.) The poor VW Up we were driving in must have been sucking the last fumes from the petrol tank by the time we pulled up to the supermarket in a town I could only try to pronounce. We asked some drunk Croat’s where the nearest petrol station was and to my horror they said “Err Zadar” and laughed profusely while all I wanted to do was cry and have a sip of their straight vodka (Fourth mistake of the day… I joke!) Zadar was at least an hour away and I knew the car was never going to make it that far.

We were all hungry so got lunch and ate it on the front of the car. I asked the lady in the supermarket for the petrol station and she said left. Rather vague… Her english wasn’t all that great so I wasn’t expecting much more out of her so after we had finished our lunch I started up the car (luckily it still started) and drove left out of the car park and there it was. Like a shining beacon of light, like a big bar of dairy milk chocolate, like a hot Italian man holding a mozzarella pizza. The petrol station. I got emotional as I filled up with unleaded and saw the petrol gage retrieve itself from the red area of doom. 

With the directions now a little clearer I, with my new found sense of relief, got us to Zrmanja. Albeit 2 and half hours later than expected… I like to remind myself that “it’s about the journey and not the destination” but that inspirational quote was left somewhere between the 20 point turn and the petrol gage flashing. 

We live and learn!

Lessons learnt-

  • Trust my gut!
  • Never let the petrol tank go below half way
  • Follow an actual map
  • I am a stress head (already knew this but I’m surprised I kept all my friends that day)

How would you have handled this situation? Would you have stayed calm or stressed out like me? Do let me know in the comments!

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