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Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

I could listen to Chris Rhea over 400,000 times on my Christmas European road trip - driving home for Christmas!

Written by  Dec 04, 2021

Is it too soon to be thinking about Christmas? Well, not for me, I’ve been thinking about this Christmas for well over a year, in fact it’s been planned for just as long. We are into December and the Dubrovnik Winter festival has started so as far as I’m concerned its already Christmas!

“Why don’t we all get together at Christmas and make it a big family event,” suggested my family back in September of last year. To which my wife answered “That sounds great but who knows what the situation will be at Christmas.” Of course she was thinking about the wrong year. But how time has flown.

There are two main calendar events in the year that the English like to plan months, if not years, in advance. One is the summer holiday, with most bookings in December and January, and the other is Christmas. And yes, my family was talking about planning a huge holiday get-together for Christmas 2021 not 2020.

And planning has been the key word for me. So this is when the dog-lovers will understand me and the rest will be left scratching their heads. We’re driving to England! And the only reason, well the main reason, is that we want to take our dog with us.

We’ll pass over 2,500 kilometres, cross five borders (well seven if you count Neum), drive through six countries, climb over the Alps, stay in three hotels and be sitting behind the wheel for 24 hours, all because we want to take our dog with us.

We could have flown first-class and rented a Ferrari for the ten days for the same price as this road trip will cost. But as dog-lovers will tell you the money is not important. I told you I’d be dividing the dog-lovers from the rest.

Although I do have to say that finding pet-friendly hotels across Europe was considerably easier than locating one in Croatia.

It’s going to be a European Christmas road trip, and yes we’re avoiding both Austria and Germany.

I’ve worked out that I could play Chris Rhea’s “Driving Home for Christmas” a total of 411,000 times on the journey! This would be a monumental trip in normal circumstances, but throw a pandemic into the mix and you have a “real” adventure. To say that the travel situation is chaotic would be an understatement. To PCR or not to PCR, that is the question!

And passing so many borders and so many countries means not only following the situation in the UK but half of Europe. We are all vaccinated, and when I say all I mean our dog, Toto, as well. But out of the blue comes another variant and for the umpteenth time our plans change. Now I can see why so many people didn’t want to travel this summer. However, no pain, no gain. And I’m sure all this hassle will be worth it.

There are many, many things I love about living in Dubrovnik, but Christmas wouldn’t be at the top of my list. There just isn’t the same feel, the same joy and the same spirit that there is in England.

Yes, it’s extremely commercial, and maybe has lost some of the real meaning, but there this that overwhelming “goodwill to all” feeling. And it starts early. Already in September there were festive gifts in the shops and the first Christmas adverts on TV, of course this is just one of the commercial side-effects. Although in recent years I’ve also seen Croatian businesses starting to arrange their festive gifts in November. So am I looking forward to it, oh yeah baby!

We’re going to on the road for a month, from the shores of Lake Como, the snow covered mountains of Switzerland, a chateau in France, the frost-covered English countryside, and that’s just the first week.

Travel is for me the most valuable thing you can do in your life. Travel is about stories, memories and experiences. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page,” wrote Saint Augustine. I’m looking forward to reading a book full of Christmas cheer.

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to    

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