One night in Gruda, Croatia, our last stop before Montenegro.
The sky was turning dark at 4:30pm, the temperature has dropped and we’re feeling cold, pretty cold. It was one of those days that we haven’t made any arrangement for accommodation and trying (or pushing) our luck. These has really been seldom as Croatia proved to be so touristic that somehow missed the meaning of hospitality. We were near the end of the village and less than 4 km to the border, not too many houses to choose from. We stopped and TunLing went over to one near the road to ask. A man, probably late 50s came and he told that his daughter has a studio apartment for rent just behind and the price would be 40 euros per night. Usually it has been between 20 to 28 euros for us, even at the popular city like Zadar and Dubrovnik. Yet, here in this little village which you cannot even see the sea but mountains, that this country is most famous for, and furthermore summer is over, we couldn’t accept. We explained that we’ve been on the road for more than 7 months and traveling by bicycle with 2 young kids, and asked for some discount. The man shrugged, and after some thought replied “Ok, 25 euros”. We hesitated. Well, an studio apartment with 3 beds, hot showers and internet, it was almost dark and cold. “Yah, let’s take it”. The man went back to his house and soon returned to say that his daughter will get the apartment ready “for 30 euros”. Somehow, his daughter has decided that she is the boss afterall. Feeling cheated, we frowned at him and after a while, reluctantly walked away. We couldn’t agree to be treated like a tourist left with limited options (our term was “like a goat, being slaughtered anyhow”) and bow down to fate, even for just 5 euros. We are travelers who have been on the road for almost 8 months!
Wasting no time, we walked across the road to check out the remaining two houses. “Ne. Ne. Ne.”, we were turned down swiftly. We were not even allowed to camp within their compound for fearing the police will come to find trouble for the host. Really?? I know some countries’ law is strict, but here in Croatia, a member of the EU? Where have all the compassion gone when you most need them? Now we only had 2 options left, go back across the road to be dragged into our tourist trap, or cycle 3 km back where there were more houses. We pushed our heavy load back to the man, with the thought that we will be warm soon. “Now it is 40 euros, you take it?” OMG … We have to walk away from this blackmail. This cannot be a proper lesson for our kids. “You have no money, why you come to travel? You should stay at home.” the last remarks from the man.
That night, we stayed in a small garage converted apartment with 4 beds, en-suite bathroom, small kitchenette and lousy wifi connection for 25 euros. The next morning our host sent us off with a cup of homemade rakia, 2 chocolate croissant and 2 chocolate bars and with slightly well rested souls we rode off to Montenegro.