The Pile Gate
Suzy stayed put on the Camping Solitudo watching the cruise ships all day.We didn’t have a bad nights sleep but impressions of the campsite hadn’t improved overnight. It is the only one within striking distance of Dubrovnik but its not the most interesting.
But we were not here to see the campsite but to see what is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic. We had wondered what the city would be like after the War and we were not disappointed. It is good to see Dubrovnik thriving.But something does have to be said about the War and Croatias history.After World War 2 Yugoslavia was formed and Croatia was part of it.Marshall Tito held together the country with some difficultyand there began strains upon his death in 1980. This seems something that always happens when a leader dies and a void occurs. .With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break up of the Soviet Union in 1989 Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia decided to stand alone and proclaim independence.And then in 1991 the war broke out Dubrovnik was held under a 7 month siege and much of the city was destroyed. Its red roofed interior bombarded and not
a thing was done to help it by the United Nations. A fifth of Croatia fell to the Serbs and we saw signs of these skirmishes on the roadsides as shrines were erected to the martyrs and we even saw bullet holes in buildings.It took until 1995 for the war to end and for peace to come round again . And thank goodness it has too. It is a wonderful achievement to see Croatia growing with confidence and to be a vibrant part of Europe.We love the country and nothing has disappointed this trip.
We set off early for the bus from Babin Kuk to Dubrovnik. The bus stop was about a ten minute walk from the site and was well signposted unlike some we have seen. We had free transport thanks to our Dubrovnik Pass. Had we needed to pay it would have cost 15 kuna each way. The journey was uneventful but on a packed bus. We travelled the 4 km into the old city trundling along as the traffic built up for rush hour. . The bus station if you can call it that was just outside the Pile Gate the Gradska Vrata Pile the old
entrance to the city. It dates from 1537 and forms part of the defences of the city. As we walked down we felt a sense of apprehension.Would Dubrovnik deliver as we both had always wanted to see it? The gateway gave us a clue of what was to lie ahead of us.
Entering the city the first thing we saw was the Big Fountain of Onofrio the Velike Onofrijeva Fontana a big cistern built between 1438 -1444 to provide fresh water for the city. And to the side of this the walls rose above us beckoning us on. We exchanged our Dubrovnik ticket for free tickets for the walls. They are impressive and are open from 8 am in the morning. The time to walk them is before the hoards of visitors descend on them and also before it gets too hot to walk. We were on them by 8.00 and they were completely empty apart from a few runners and the townspeople who were just waking up. The Gradske Zidane (the walls ) are a real symbol of Dubrovnik and give a fantastic view of the hills to the outside of the city and into the city inside
with its red roofs which seem to stretch forever. Some are old and mellow but many new replaced after the war. From the guards walkway it is possible to feel as if you are back in the 10th
century when they were constructed. Modifications to them were made in the 13th
century and along the way are numerous forts, cannon emplacements and stairways to the city below. The walls are 6,363 feet long and reach a height of 82 feet in parts. It took us about half an hour or more to walk the entire circuit. There were photographic opportunities around every corner.
After we got round we stopped for breakfast a cup of capaccino, one of espresso, a cheese and ham omelette and a special sandwich which comprised mainly of cheese and ham. It was lovely to watch the world go by as the city woke up and the visitors started to arrive.
There are a large selection of shops along both the main street and the side streets which mainly cater for the ships who come to the city.
After breakfast we walked to the Square of the Loggia to see the gothic Venetian palace
From the walls
at the end of the street , the clock tower the Gradski Vonik and the Rectors Palace. The clock tower was 15th
century but had been badly damaged during earthquakes and repair work had been carried out in the 20th
century. The Gothic palace called the Palaca Sponza was built and re-modelled in 1516 – 1522. It was another example of what Venice did for a city.
Our next visit after yet another Coca Cola as the temperature was rising was to the Rectors Palace but by this time the tour guides had descended on the city and tourists were everywhere following women with umbrellas, balloons and scarves on sticks. It was like a swarm of locusts so we made a quick detour into the Palace the Knezev Dvor which houses the cities museum collection. Built in 1425 it was an imposing building and rooms were filled with Dubrovniks treasures, art, sedan chairs, coins, sedan chairs, painted and wooden furniture, sedan chairs and chandeliers. I cannot believe just how many sedan chairs had been collected. Again this was free entry on the Dubrovnik card and worth a visit.
We quickly put our heads around the Baroque cathedral but
inside it was white and plain and very uninteresting.
Our last museum another free one with the card was the Maritime Museum on the walls. Quite small with a few exhibits it seemed to ignore its Venetian maritime history and was not the most interesting we had ever been in.
There is a cable car up the mountain. This was destroyed in 1991 but is again working. It takes 3 and a half minutes to get to the top but we didn’t go due to Glenn suffering from vertigo.
In the afternoon we caught a boat out of Dubrovnik . This was done for two reasons., The first to be able to see the walls as a sailor would see them as he returned by sea and secondly to get away from the heat and bustle of the city. We paid 260 kuna to go on the 20 minute ride to the island of Lokrum. The island is heavily wooded with marked trails around the nature reserve. On the island is a old monastery or convent I am not sure which. It is a romantic place run down and falling down. The grounds are full of peacocks
and gardens of cactus some in flower and exotic plants. It made a welcome break for an hour or so whilst we waited for the boat to return to pick us up. A cafe was a most welcome for yet another Coca Cola as by now the temperatures were steaming. I hate to think how hot it must get in the height of summer.
Our bus journey back home was the journey from hell. We caught bus number 6 which was heaving. I cannot believe just how many people could be crammed on a bus. I was glad to get home. Health and Safety go out of the window on these buses as more and more people piled on.
We met another neighbour a lovely man from Colchester in Essex who was on an eight week holiday touring this part of the world. His father had become ill and he had to return to the UK urgently so we helped him plan his quickest route home. Doing this makes you realise just how far you have travellled and how long it would take to get home.
Our last night in Camping Solitudo was spent in the Bistro
again, we had the soup this time not vegetable but something green, the same kebabs and ice cream for pudding. It was a quiet night and we slept well due to walking so much around a beautiful city. We have come to the conclusion we have fallen in love with Croatia .
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