I was about to embark on a trip into the unknown. A four day trip to three European cities I'd never visited before. Brussels, Zagreb and Ljubljana. A trip from which there might be no return. Well I certainly didn't know how I was going to get back home again!
I was flying out to Zagreb via Brussels early Friday morning to catch up with some old friends, to watch the Scotland football team playing in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and to take the opportunity to stand up paddle (SUP) in Zagreb. I was due to fly home on the following Monday evening, flying with Monarch Airlines. But there was a problem. Monarch had gone into liquidation the previous Monday!
At no time did I contemplate cancelling my trip. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had publicly promised to repatriate anyone who was abroad on the day the liquidation was announced. OK, so I wasn't technically abroad on that date, but how would then CAA know that. My plan was to turn up at Zagreb Airport at the appointed time and hope for the best.
|Breakfast in Brussels|
I'd never been to Zagreb before but I had some wonderful SUP plans lined up. I had my inflatable
Redpaddle 10'6 SUP with me, carefully packed into its rucksack.
Jarun Lake is on the south west of the city, close to the River Sava. Jarun is well known locally as an area for sports and leisure. Swimming (in the summer months), rowing, sailing etc. And with land based activities around the lake. My internet research suggested it would be an ideal place for stand up paddleboarding, so I made my way over there on the Saturday morning. I understand that it is a very busy area in the summer, with a vibrant nightlife to complement the sporting activities available. This was October, albeit the weather was warm, at least 20C with a strong yellow sun shining in the bright blue sky.
|Rowing on Jarun|
There is an island in the middle of the lake, accessed by a bridge from the west. It was a long walk around and onto the island, but well worth it. I found the ideal launching spot from the south side of the island. I suspect that this would not be a suitable place in the summer as it seemed to be a swimming area. But there was no one around that Saturday morning in October, so it was perfect for me.
As I headed back to my hotel, I still had no idea how I was getting home but I had lots more fun still ahead of me. Drinks and food with friends. The Scotland game on Sunday. And a really really exciting SUP trip planned for Monday. One I was a little nervous about, to say the least! Read about it, and how I got home, in Part 2 ................