It just occurred to me that for the first half of this trip, we chose places with some pretty heavy recent histories: Russia, Estonia, and Croatia. I can easily remember when massive changes happened that have dramatically shaped each country in the last twenty years or so. In Russia and Estonia, it was pretty amazing to see and experience those changes through discussion with locals, checking out the various architectural styles, etc. Despite the fact that Dubrovnik was shelled hard during the Croat-Serb civil war, this is not where one goes for an exposure to recent Croatian history. For a view into a much older time period though, say 14th
century, this is the place.
To me growing up, any mention of Dubrovnik conjured up images of the infamous limestone protective wall that rises up from the rocky coast and envelops the Old City. We walked through one of the two city gates that allows passage into the walled town around noon. This is probably the worst possible time to go. Not only are massive tour groups crowding the tiny streets with everyone clamoring for a photo opp, but the heat begins to get oppressively hot this time of year.
Crowds + heat = No bueno. Anyways, after a couple of hours the tours cleared out, and we could really begin to appreciate the beauty of the city. It’s a nice mix of tiny side streets waiting to be explored, narrow alleys that have never-ending flights of stairs climbing up the hillside, hidden passages that open to isolated rocky cliffs where sun-seekers are soaking it up and cliff jumping into the Adriatic, and of course, the Wall.
But the best time to visit the old city is at night. The smooth limestone covered streets reflect the lights that illuminate the white rock walls and orange Spanish-style roof tiles. The temperature drops considerably. Restaurants and cafes absorb the reduced number of people that return for the evening. And then, shortly before midnight the bars and clubs begin to swell with party people from just about every corner of the world. Last night we ended up with a group from Australia, the UK, and the US in a 16th
century fortress, Revilin, which has since been converted into Croatia’s preeminent EDM club. Other nights we just ended up in nice restaurants dining al fresco along the shores of the Adriatic Sea;
eating fresh seafood and sipping Croatia wine.
So, getting back to my original point, I’m not leaving Croatia with a sense that I now really connect with its people and what they’ve experienced in the last two decades. But what else do you expect from a predominantly vacation destination like Dubrovnik? People come here to relax, to admire its beauty and uniqueness, and to have a great time. I know we did. And I know that I’d like to come back to Croatia again and spend more time getting to know other parts of the country and learn more intimately the character of this former Yugoslavia republic.
But for now, it’s time to switch gears again. This round, the über-tame Balearic island of Ibiza calls. If I don’t post anything in the next few days, send a search party. Or a cash donation. Thanks.
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