Why is it that when you're banking on the roads being busy - counting on it in fact - you instead end up completing your journey in record time? So it was that I ended up at Heathrow almost an hour earlier than I'd anticipated. Sure, better early than late, but I wasn't ready for this trip to really be happening, damn it! Didn't the universe know I needed more time to prepare myself?
Spending the best part of a month travelling round the Balkans by myself had seemed such a simple, low key idea back when I was planning it from the comfort of my sofa at home. I do sometimes wonder for my sanity when the concept of visiting 13 cities, in 6 countries, in the space of 25 days, is what I come up with as the gentle, minimal stress holiday choice for myself.
Anyway, it was far too late to change my mind now, so I boarded my Zagreb-bound plane and promptly dozed off. And it all went swimmingly...
... Right up until the point where my taxi driver drove off into the night, leaving me standing forlornly outside the locked door to my hotel's worryingly vacant-looking reception. "Don't panic", I told myself, glancing from my watch (nearly half past midnight) to the deserted residential streets of the Zagreb suburb that was home to my hotel.
When 5 minutes of ringing the bell hadn't roused anybody I decided to just be obnoxious and lean on the bell until someone appeared. Whilst at the same time telling myself that sleeping on their doorstep wouldn't be so terrible.
Happily it didn't come to that, and between the hotel staff's limited English and my non-existent Croatian we got me checked in and into a room. At which point I started bouncing off the walls with excitement over the coming weeks. (Who needs sleep eh?)