We arrived in Ljubljana Slovenia under under beautifully clear skies. The river canal lined with restaurants and shops, humming with locals and tourists on a Saturday afternoon. Traveling with our friends and cycling companions we commented on the relaxed flight connections during the past 20 hours of travel.
I did experience one small glitch on departure realizing while boarding the plane that I had left my black sweater in the waiting area at the gate. As a staunch believer in carry on luggage only on European trips one can not be losing the only article brought in case of cold weather before the journey even starts.
With the encouragement of the flight attendant I did my best impression of a salmon in spawning season and began my swim against the determined line of passengers getting to their seats. I used generous amounts of ‘excuse me’, ‘ pardon me’ and a sprinkle of ‘so very sorry’ for those looking like they would prefer to throw me in the overhead bin than allow my passage, as I wove and slunk my way back to the gate.
I was certain I could hear them thinking ” Oh for heaven’s sake! Some people or so scatter brained and disorganized! ” Clearly they didn’t know me as I am so detail oriented and organized I am teased about having lists of the lists I make. Obviously it was a moment of distraction at the beginning of the new adventure. The sweater had been calmly waiting for me on the seat where I had left it. No harm done.
The little airport in Ljubljana was navigated easily. A walk out the front door to a waiting shuttle bus and the four of us were off to City Hotel. The thought actually crossed my mind that the blog material was not presenting itself easily.
After letting off several other passengers, our shuttle bus driver with his broad shoulders and deep Slovene voice, unloaded our luggage outside our lodging and fondly bid us good luck on our cycling adventures. The four Canadians, all with smiling faces and the thought of the first toast with local beverages at lunch close at hand, arrived at the front lobby for check in.
What not to do with your valuables when traveling
The round faced gentleman behind the desk greeted us warmly and asked for our passports for identification. I reached for my black canvas purse which was slung across my chest……IT WAS NOT THERE!
I searched my body is some vague hope that if I patted around long enough it might magically appear. In that moment the cold sweat began to bead on my forehead and my stomach gave a momentous twist as a wave of nausea passed over me. I declared to the group “MY PURSE IS MISSING!”
We quickly tossed through the bags that lay at our feet, even the black sweater lay there obediently, but absolutely no black purse. The horror of what was unfolding struck me as I realized that I had not put on my money belt, which I wear religiously when doing these trips. The belt remained within my purse and not in it’s appointed spot around my waist.
The missing items included my passport, my iPad, half of my cash for the trip and my credit cards. My trio of traveling companions surrounded me as a though I might actually fall over from the discovery while my brain began the obvious inquisition, “When did you see it last?”
Without question I had it coming off of the plane less than one hour prior. I felt quite sure I had it getting into the shuttle bus. Lunging at the gentleman behind the desk I implored him to contact the shuttle we had just arrived in.
Initially the desk clerk wanted to carry on with the check in process but once it became clear that if he didn’t leap to action there would be a hysterical lunatic in his lobby, he changed approaches completely.
With gentle big eyes gazing at my ashen colored face he asked for an invoice or ticket from the shuttle bus. No we didn’t have that.
He asked for the name of the company. We could come up with the first two letters. It was like a desperate game of twenty questions with my sweaty hands gripping the four foot marble counter.
He asked what the van looked like and we told him of the red and black wording on the white panels. Like he had just won the bonus round on Wheel of Fortune he exclaimed “Markun!” In unison the four of us applauded and let out a unified “Yes!” I believe I screamed with glee.
Our hotel clerk turned detective picked up his cell phone and dialed a number from memory. He spoke in Slovene, explaining the situation and likely adding that he would share half of his game show prize if the person on the other end could prevent a complete meltdown of his guest still clinging to his work station.
As he hung up he explained that the dispatcher was contacting our driver and would call back. What likely was two minutes felt like a week until the cell phone rang again. More talk in Slovene and then the clerk with a twinkle in his eye looked at me and said ‘Very nice’.
He hung up the phone and told me the driver would be right back with my purse which was on the floor in the spot I had been sitting in the shuttle bus.
Without exaggeration went leaping head first at the clerk with the now very large grin, right over the four foot counter and embraced him with a hug and a stream of non stop thank yous.
While we waited for the driver he so kindly talked about doing a similar thing himself (really I think he made it up) and then told me when one goes on holidays one disconnects the brain. He estimated perhaps it only works at 75%. I suggested my brain appeared to be plugging away at the 25% mark.
As the shuttle pulled up and the large Slovene driver handed me the black bag, I for the second time in a day leapt into the arms of a European man I didn’t know. He laughed and returned with a bear hug that lifted me off the ground.
I agree with the guidebook. The people of Slovenia are very friendly. Hubby followed closely behind and felt a better gesture of gratitude would be a handfuls of Euros as an extra tip. Well deserved indeed.
After some afternoon wanderings and a sense of relief and good fortune oozing out of my pores we returned to the hotel. Now up for 30 hours our eyes had grown heavy.
There was my life saver clerk still manning the front desk. As he saw me he held up the familiar black zip up sweater and asked “Did anyone leave this behind?” As I sheepishly held out my hand he said in a fatherly tone, “Now you my dear go to bed and I don’t want to see you till 7am!”
Has anyone out there lost anything?