Countdown to a major trip

My expat life in Istria

Tying up loose ends, arranging cat-sitters, booking hotels, setting up meetings and generally making sure nothing’s forgotten: the week before any big trip is always hectic. I made this one doubly so, with last-minute house-hunting, car chaos and a haircut, all ahead of a three-week jaunt to the UK, New York and Belgium. It was a rush (as always), but we got away on time – just. Which is why this posting’s a little bit late!


Monday 10 October

Cold, grey day and the weather matches my mood:, flat and tired. Our trip is now only a week away and it’s grown – what started as just a holiday now includes a parental visit in the UK, and a Technical Control for the car (that’s the MOT for all you Brits) and some business meetings in Belgium. Getting that sorted while trying to keep Live Istria on track is stressing me out!

Additional panic when I woke up this morning, as I realised the car still needs a service before we go. Quick call to the garage first thing: luckily no queue, they can service it tomorrow.

Finalised and posted the next chapter in our house hunting saga, about the house in Fabci. Thinking about house hunting kicked me to give Azra a call to see if there was any news about Žbandaj. There is and it’s bad :(:  no possibility for a tourist categorization, so we’re back to square one again. My enthusiasm is struggling …


Tuesday 11 October

Beautiful warm day :), my spirits soared. Did some autumn pruning and we had lunch outside:  not summer, but lovely all the same. Igor (garage owner) came and collected the car for its service. As I had him there, and with an eye to selling the car, I asked about ‘patching’ the bumper and replacing the broken back light (a tale – for another day – involving P, a telegraph pole and an empty car park). Don’t want it fixed yet, just a price. We’ll have car back by 3 pm tomorrow, promises Igor.

Part of the property in KastelirAzra called mid-morning from Kaštelir, where she thinks she’s found a house for us. “Great,” I said, “I’m on my way,” Running down to leap into the car – which wasn’t there, of course! Fortunately, Azra could pick me up: unfortunately, the house was not suitable – too big, too expensive. However it confirmed my opinion that Maria’s house opposite is probably the best bet, if I can convince P it’s worth pursuing.

So after lunch, we went over and had another look at Maria’s place. The house and land are great, but, as P keeps stressing, the problem lies next door with the sister, who has access over ‘our’ land and a balcony overlooking ‘our’ garden. He’s very doubtful we’ll be able to sort anything out , but I think it’s worth a shot:  if you don’t ask, you never know. Called Maria in the evening and agreed a price :). But that’s only the first step – the easy one. She suggests that, because of the intense family feud, we should negotiate about the access directly with her sister :(. That’s going to be hard. P’s now doubly sure we’re chasing a pipe-dream.


Wednesday 12 October

Sun still shining, so out in the garden first thing, but my heart wasn’t really in it – my mind’s already on the road.

So into the office. After posting last week’s blog, had a ‘property’ session. First I e-mailed the architect looking into the legalisation for our house (our house has a long list of problems … another story for later). Any ideas on costs yet? Of course not! Then called Karlo and asked if he would act on our behalf in our negotiations for Maria’s house. In theory, yes, but we put it all on hold until we got back in November.

Mid-afternoon and nothing from Igor, so I called him. “Where’s my car? How much will the bumper cost?” “Bumper’s being fixed, but not quite ready yet. I’ll let you know the price when it’s finished.” Steam started to escape from my ears –  didn’t want the work done, just a price. All I can say is …grrr!Fixed back bumper

Collected the car at the end of the afternoon. Have to admit the bumper looks fantastic, you’d never know it had been cracked, and the cost was reasonable. But they hadn’t stamped the book after its service, even though I’d specifically left it with them. I’ll have to go back tomorrow.


Thursday 13 October

Phil removing outside light bulbs for the winterAnother glorious day, blue skies and T-shirts, not bad for mid-October :).

More ‘closing down’ today. The rental season is over so we went up to our house in Brnobici, to check everything’s OK after the final cleaning and make sure everything is shut down properly. I don’t go there often, so I’m always a little nervous of what horrors I’ll find – there’s rarely anything wrong: it’s mainly nerves. This time, the cleaners had done an excellent job.Domink putting on the pool's winter cover for winter

Soon after we got home, Dominik (our pool guy) turned up to put the pool to bed for the winter. Its cover is now on – so that’s official: we might all be in T-shirts, but winter’s not far away.


Friday 14 October

A straightforward day planned. In the morning I’d go to the garage to get the service book stamped, then on to the hairdressers and finally visit the cash machine on the way home. In the afternoon, I’d do the ironing – simples :)! Wrong :(!

First, there was no-one at the garage. Then the hairdressers was shut and, when I found somewhere else, I couldn’t get an appointment until 4 pm. One small success, though: I got the money.

Stopped off at the garage on the way back to get the service book stamped, only to find they hadn’t done the service! Igor had misunderstood me and only fixed the bumper (which I hadn’t wanted :(). “Don’t worry Nicky. We can do it now. It’ll only take an hour.” Grrr again!

Igor ran me home and I got on with the ironing. One hour passed … then another and a third. Just as I was beginning to panic that I’d miss my hair appointment, the car turned up. I should have known that one hour means up to four (or more) in Istria. 

Went to the hairdressers – a simple phrase that hides yet another tale about living in Istria, and in fact marked a major milestone.


Saturday 15 October

Baggy in wisteriaReal autumnal day. Bright and sunny, but such a cold wind, brrr. Despite the cold, Baggy still spent most of the day in the wisteria, this week’s location of choice for snoozing.

Marathon packing session this afternoon, always an exhausting task. Finished just in time to go to SnS’s for dinner and mah-jongg. P continues his winning streak – I may need to resort to sabotage. Temperatures dropping fast, hitting 0°C on the way home.


Sunday 16 October

Realised we’d left no ‘slack’ time in our journey planning, so toyed with the idea of setting off today rather than tomorrow morning, if we got the final small tasks finished quickly enough. A couple of computer crashes when transferring e-mails to our travel netbook and that clearly wasn’t going to happen. So it’s up early for us tomorrow and keep your fingers crossed for us for a smooth trip – we’re off to New York! 🙂

The tale continues in November, when we get back from our trip away

Read my blog in the right order – from the start in July


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