Thursday, September 5, 2013
Dubrovnik, “The Pearl of the Adriatic”

It's very sunny here and quite dry. I did laundry in the sink this morning, and it dried almost instantly out on our balcony. There was nothing to eat for breakfast but cookies because the local grocery store closed before we could get there last night, but I sat out on the common balcony and drank my coffee. Last night some other guests were using the balcony, but they checked out this morning, and we have the place to ourselves. The Carevic family lives downstairs, but they remain almost invisible.

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Tom and Jana, Lapad Peninsula, Dubrovnik

At noon we walked to the bus stop and rode to the Dubrovnik Stari Grad (Old Town), Croatia's top tourist town. The bus dropped us off outside the Pile Gate, at one end of the Placa a/k/a the Stradun, Old Town Dubrovnik's main pedestrian drag.

Interesting fact: Dubrovnik, then an independent republic, was the first foreign state to recognize the United States, in 1776.

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Pile Gate entrance to Dubrovnik Stari Grad

Dubrovnik's Old Town juts into the sea and is surrounded by thick medieval walls. I was surprised to learn that the only time in history Dubrovnik has been attacked and actually used the impressive walls for defense was during the 1991-1992 siege of the city during Croatia's break from Yugoslavia. There was massive damage in the Old Town from the bombardment, but they quickly rebuilt, and the only evidence of war we could see were lots of new, bright-orange roof tiles.

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Crkva Sv. Vlaha (St. Blaise's Church)

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Steep strolling

We strolled the length of the Stradun to the Old Port, stopping while I grabbed a “New York” hamburger at FHD Fast Food. The Old Port, just outside the eastern town walls, was filled with hucksters selling excursions, but they weren't obnoxiously aggressive. The Old Port itself was lovely.

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Outside the Old Port

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Dubrovnik Old Port

We entered the Gradske Zidine (Town Walls) at the far end of the Stradun, near the Ploce Gate and Old Port, and spent two hours walking the 2 kilometers back to where we started. The views of the Adriatic Sea, the Old Town, and the mountains were stunning.

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Note the new vs. old roof tiles

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Tvrdava Lovrijenac (Fort St. Lawrence)

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Minceta Tower

At some spots along the wall, you can see right into residents' “private” courtyards. We were lucky enough to see a very old naked woman taking an outdoor shower. Once again, we're cool with not stumbling upon the nude beaches.

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Cute courtyard

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Velika Onofrijea Fontana (Onofrio's Big Fountain)

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The Stradun

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Fort Lovrijenac, another view

Along the south wall, we looked down on a unique swimming area hanging onto the outside of the Old Town's wall. It's merely an outcropping of rocks with a metal pool ladder attached to the side so swimmers can climb back out of the sea. The swimming looks okay, but it doesn't look comfy for sunbathing. We also watched four brave/crazy teenagers, three guys and a girl, climb way up the side of a cliff and jump into the sea.

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Dubrovnik "beach"

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Jumpers!

After the hot walk around the city wall, we needed a snack before we continued our sightseeing. Just outside the Pile Gate, I got a raspberry and blueberry gelato, and Tom got, if you can believe, a slice of pizza.

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Tom and Coney

Tickets to walk the Town Walls also include entry to Fort Lovrijenac. After our snack, we tackled the steep steps to the fort and were treated to more spectacular views of the city. I don't know how much more beauty my eyes can stand!

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Fort Lovrijenac

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Dubrovnik from Fort Lovrijenac

In the late afternoon, we took a cable car to the top of Mt. Srd (pronounced “surge”), for yet more great views of Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island. The fortress at the top was built by Napoleonic forces, but the trenches were dug during the Homeland War (War for Croatian Independence) from 1991 to 1995, when the Croatian Army dug in and fended off the Yugoslav People's Army from this strategic position.

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Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island from Mt. Srd

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Another view from Mt. Srd

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Trenches on the Battlefield of Dubrovnik

The cross on Mt. Srd was erected in 1935, destroyed by mortars and shelling during the war in 1991, and was later reconstructed and again positioned atop the mountain, overlooking the town. The cable car used to reach the top of of the mountain was also destroyed in the war, not reopening until 2011.

We descended from Mt. Srd and caught a bus back to the Lapad Peninsula, stopping for groceries on the walk back to our soba. Restaurant food is so average in Croatia, we hate to keep paying 40 bucks a night for it. We got back to our room around 9:00 and made salami, turkey, and gouda sandwiches with olives and pickles for dinner. Delightful. We washed the sandwiches down with a 2-liter beer in a plastic bottle we picked up for 25 kuna, or about $4.50. That's more like it.

At the grocery I also bought some blueberry liker, Brovonica Liker od Domace Borovnica. No real blueberries in the bottle like the stuff we got in Slovenia, but still delicious. The label had a few English words and described it as “blueberry wine,” but at 20% alcohol, it had to be fortified. I think we found the Croatian Mad Dog 20/20!

Tonight I realized we don't have a TV in our room. In fact, we haven't had one in days. I don't miss it a bit! At night we've been planning the next day's activities, and I've been journaling. Plus I brought my tiny computer with the 8-inch screen, and we've backed up photos, emailed, tweeted, and kept up with headline news. Traveling, at least the way we do it, is a lot of work. We're going to be tired when we get home!



Continue to September 6, 2013

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