Category Archives: Dubrovnik

Visits to the walled city of Dubrovnik

Travel Itch

I miss Europe. I love the mix of culture, cuisine, antiquity, and beauty that we have found in Italy.

We have excursions planned for this fall and next spring that will be novel and exciting. The Amazon will no doubt present its own set of adventures. Peru and Ecuador are mysteries to us. It will be amazing to visit South America and dust off a bit of Spanish. (can you feel the but…)

I miss Europe. I do. I had planned our last trip to Greece and Italy to continue for another two weeks. We cut short. I was told the weather in late June and into July and August gets oppressive. With some depressing grumbling, I changed plans and literally yanked our last two weeks of our Tuscany trip. In retrospect, I am glad I did. I flagged on some of our walks in Florence in late June. It was hot, still reasonable but hot. If July gets still hotter, I am so glad I came around and dropped the last two weeks.

Our plans for the next year: this fall, winter, and next spring are complete.

Next fall we are planning to return to Italy for a few months. I’ve started looking into villas for rent around Florence and Rome. We’ll use a villa as home base for our excursions into the Italian hillside and coastal towns. I can relax, content in the knowledge that we’ll be returning to Italy soon. Troubling though, I would also like to do some island hopping in Greece. On our cruise we found that there is an extensive ferry system throughout the Greek Islands. It’s not difficult to see Greece by ferry. Perhaps we’ll fly into Greece and wend our way back to Italy.

There is so much to do. We hope to visit Alaska by RV; tour China and Thailand; revisit Africa a few more times; visit friends in the south of Spain; visit family on Madeira Island; tour Ireland; drive through Eastern Europe, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and into Germany; visit Paris and tour the south of France; go skiing in the French and Italian Alps; drive through the Old South, the South West, and North West; canoe in Ontario. That’s just for starters. I have a scrapbook of places we hope to visit tucked away. Every time I come across an amazingly beautiful location or an adventure that’s not life threatening, I paste it into the book. I’ve done enough wacky and dangerous things in the past that I’m no longer interested in pushing the safety envelope. “Moderate” danger is ok. A charging elephant, canoe on the Amazon, bare boat cruising, diving with hammerhead sharks without a safety net, those are all OK by me. Class IV white water kayaking, technical rock climbing, or base jumping are “right out”. All this would be possible but for Ellen whose sense of “safe adventure” is clearly a subset of mine.

I truly hate the word, “blessed”. It smacks of a religious sense of “blessed by God”. As an atheist, that drives me crazy. I would rather say that decades of hard work, some risk taking, and a bit of luck made travel and adventure possible for us. We have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves after retirement. We will.


Seabourn day 13, Dubrovnik

There is no getting around it, today Dubrovnik is a tourist destination. In the 1990’s the city was 60% destroyed in the Croatian-Serbian war. It has been stunningly rebuilt. There is one single museum that documents the horror of the war, the 400 dead, and the destruction. We did not visit the museum, not consciously, but because we wandered the city and did not stumble upon it. Jim, a fellow Seabourn guest, described the museum when we happened upon him during an epicurean pool side event. That Yugoslavia has fractured as it has, and that Scotland is pushing for secession, and Venice is pushing for secession from Italy, all these things portend trouble at best for Europe. Once fractured, petty differences can become cause bellum. Rather than seeing the causes that bind us, the world is seeking issues to differentiate us. Politicians use this tearing of the fabric of society to further their own ends and destroy what we, as humans, have in common.

That Greece may be thrown out of the EU, may make sense to some. If you cannot pay your loans, some punishment is due. But in leaving the EU, would not Greece turn to Russia or China? What then for geopolitical stability in the Eastern Europe?

Dubrovnik is a beautiful city. Ellen and I were standing at an intersection and I noticed the word uncial. I studied Russia and the Russian language and know enough of the language to recognize the similarities between Russian and Croat. In many instances the difference is in the alphabet only. Street, good evening, good morning are all identical phonetically (or nearly so). Ulitca is the Russian word for street, phonetically transcribed into the Roman alphabet. I mentioned to Ellen that the word was Russian and I had a local Croatian walk up to me and say, “NO. Not RUSSIAN, is CROATIAN word. We fought war over this.”

Did I feel one inch tall. I mean these people had just fought a war and this fellow could well be a survivor or perhaps had born arms against the Serbs. My sense of righteous indignation that the fellow did not see the similarity between Russian and Croatian did a 180. Even if I was correct, there was no reason to antagonize this fellow and no telling what he was capable of if I had chosen to “be correct”. I apologized as best; I could and fled the scene vowing not to speak Russian, talk of Russian or even think Russian for the nest 24 hours.

The old city does not have facilities for a cruise ship to dock, even a small one. Smaller ships anchor and ferry passengers ashore. With only two cruise ships in port, Dubrovnik was fun. The main street which is also the main shopping street was crowded, but walk one block off that street and you could be by yourself. I thought there were only two cruise ships in port. Jim (from above) also mentioned that there were two or three huge cruise ships docked in the new port in the new city and that a team of busses was ferrying some of them to the gates of the old city! I don’t know where they went, but I did not see hoards teeming in the streets. It could be that many were waking the town’s ramparts which are organized as a one way walk high above the city. Because it is one way, while walking the battlements you’ll only see the small group of people walking with you.

There are very many small taverns and restaurants all over the city, most are in narrow streets or alleyways just a block or two from the main street. The food is mild, not spicy, and quite good. Lamb, fish, and shell fish dominate the menus.

Dubrovnik’s main draw is the quaintness of the town. The medieval walls are mostly intact. Ruins of a much older city wall are visible from the western ramparts. We walked the ramparts all the way around the old city. That was fun though we took far too many photos. Dubrovnik, Mykonos, and Oia are among the most photogenic we have ever visited The walk around the city takes about two hours if you meander and enjoy the views. It can be done in half that time if you rush or twice that time if you have issues walking.

Dubrovnik sits at the base of a modest mountain. A tram runs from the back of the city to the top of the mountain and the view over Dubrovnik and out to the sea. This is well worth doing. I suggest going early in the morning ahead of the crowds. Jim said they took a taxi to the top which was less expensive and afforded better views of the city.

We are now off to a small fishing village for a taste of small town Croatia.