I decided to "Think Different" last Halloween.
We do love our Apple products, but they have performed poorly on this trip. Our trouble began in Granada with a busted iPod Touch. Luckily, it was under warranty, and we had a replacement a few days later.
We were not so lucky in Croatia. In recent posts, we alluded to a problem with our MacBook Pro. I’m currently killing time on the train to Selçuk, so I might as well get this story out of the way.
To make a long story short, our laptop broke, but it works now.
To make a long story long, keep reading. Just know beforehand…I don’t recommend it.
The Long Story
For a change of pace, we went out for a fancy dinner on Hvar. You can’t pinch pennies all the time. Over dinner–with wine even–we discussed how smooth everything was going. No incidents of theft, lost luggage, damaged electronics, etc. Of course, life went to hell as soon as we said this. The next morning, I awoke to a grey computer screen and a flashing question mark. I worked on the Mac for hours with no results. It appeared our hard drive was kaput.
I wasn’t horribly upset at first because we backup on an external drive and upload our photos to Flickr. Our most important souvenirs were fine. As I thought about it longer, I grew more concerned. What about our other stuff? Lightroom, Photoshop, Photomatix, movies, music, the expense workbook, our blog files…I hadn’t backed up any of it. I didn’t even have the Mac OS X installation DVD. I really should have packed that.
Our hotel had a computer, so I searched for an Apple authorized repair guy in Split. No dice. The only place I could find was in the capital. Zagreb was 6-hour train ride away, and we were looking forward to island hopping our way to Dubrovnik. Also, I upgraded the hard drive myself in Chicago, so I was pretty sure our warranty was void.
Many people travel the world without a computer, so what’s the big deal? If we used a point-and-shoot camera, we could probably get by without this five pound aluminum brick. The problem is we like our SLR and High Dynamic Range photography. Not to mention, how could we keep up on our wildly successful travel blog? We would hate to disappoint our tens of readers.
We had to get this fixed. We made it back to the mainland the next afternoon and headed right for a computer shop. It was closed. As we debated our next move, we realized a new hard drive wouldn’t help us anyway. How are we going to install it? We have no tools. Even if we found a drive and got the case open, we don’t have any damn software!
On our walk back to the city center, we ran into another store. Unlike our first stop, this one was open for business. Inside, we met Nikola.
“Do you have a 2.5″ hard drive for Macintosh?”
“Yes,” he replied. At last! Success!
“But we don’t have Apple software or install hard drives.”
No! Still screwed! We proceeded to buy the drive anyway, but we weren’t any closer to our goal. We told Nikola our tale of woe, and he offered to help us off the clock. “Give computer to me. I take home. I fix. I download software. I call you when ready,” he promised.
We talked for another 15 minutes or so before happily handing over our expensive MacBook Pro, power cable, and brand new hard drive. After leaving, we contemplated our actions. Without an ounce of force or coercion, Nikola had acquired our expensive electronics…and we gave them to him willingly. I told Kim that if we never see the Mac again, we could at least be comforted it was lost to such a smooth con artist. Even Sawyer would have been impressed.
We walked home reassured, and sure enough, Nikola skyped us the next day.
The hard drive was fine! Our programs, photos, movies, blog shit…it was all fine! “Your problem is motherboard or cable,” Nikola informed us, “Motherboard will cost 9,000 kuna.”
We had three options:
1. Go to Zagreb and try to get the computer fixed under warranty.
2. Buy a new MacBook in Croatia.
3. Buy a new MaBook in the U.S. and have it shipped.
We decided on Plan 1 but proceeded with Plan 3 as a fall back. Plan 2 was no good because MacBooks are very expensive in Europe, and our keyboard would be in the freaking Croatian alphabet. There was no sense ruining our plans entirely, so we decided to split up. I caught the next train to Zagreb, and Kim went on to Dubrovnik.
I made it to iStyle, the repair shop, first thing the next morning. They told me they only order parts on Fridays, and they usually arrive the following Thursday. Today was Monday. That makes two weeks, and we had a flight to Istanbul already booked. Yep, we were going to be stuck with a change fee too. I offered the technician $200 to take parts from a display model, but he wouldn’t budge. He had to order the parts.
With little choice, I left the computer at iStyle and caught the night bus to Dubrovnik (an 11-hour ride) to meet back up with Kim. I sure as hell wasn’t going to hang out in Zagreb the whole time. We enjoyed Dubrovnik and Bosnia, and the weeks past quickly. It is a 9-hour train ride from Sarajevo to Zagreb, so I caught a 50-minute flight on Croatia Air instead.
I once again found myself at iStyle at the crack of dawn. This was my third trip to Zagreb, and I was starting to feel at home. Like Cheers, everyone knew my name at iStyle. The guy at the desk exclaimed, “Clark!” when I walked in the door. He had our computer in hand.
It worked! Everything was perfectly fine, and the repair was free of charge. Apparently I hadn’t voided our AppleCare after all.
So what was the problem? It was the damn cable, not the motherboard. Since when does anything go wrong with a cable? We called off the contingency plans, and I flew back to Sarajevo victorious. After change fees, flights, trains, night buses, and a spare hard drive, the fiasco cost us about $600. Expensive, but it could have been much worse.
Told you it was a long story. You should have stuck with the short version.