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Published: June 17th 2015
Dubrovnik Has a History of English Visitors
We are camped on the edge of a cliff A few kilometres from Dubrovnik. Well that what you do in Croatia. There is no flat land in this part of the country.
The mountains drop straight down to the sea and then keep going- straight down, deep into the royal blue water. There is no surf. The few meters of ground that inclines into the water that they call a beach is just rocks. In fact we have bought plastic clogs so as to walk on the rocky beach and into the water. Without the clogs our feet would be cut to ribbons.
Where we are camped - its similar to being say 20 or 25 floors up. An from here in a horizontal line the point above the water’s edge might be 50 or 70 meters.
From our vantage point we look south over Lokrum Island which is just a few kilometres north west of Dubrovnik.
Lokrum Island has a few tales to tell.
The first yarn involves the Benedictines who held it from the 11th
centuries. Then Dubrovnik and Lokrum got hit by
an earth quake in 1667 destroying structures and killing people.
In the aftermath the then Republic of Dubrovnik, nationalised and sold Lokrum to some wealthy individuals. One quick way to solve government debt. But the Benedictines were none too pleased about this confiscation of a prize asset and being banished, so they put a curse on future owners. Its ownership has been littered with sad tales up to when it became property of the state after World War 2.
Napoleon conquered Dubrovnik and built a fortress on Lokrum.
But the yarn that I find most interesting is about Richard The Lion Heart getting shipwrecked on Lokrum.
Well it would be pretty hard to believe anyone getting shipwrecked in this bit of sea.
The sea has been like a sheet of glass most of the time we have been here. Occasionally the surface becomes like a sheet of frosted glass – with tiny but symmetrical ripples- but the ripples do not appear to move – they are in the same place all the time , just like a sheet of frosted glass.
Weather here is mostly sunny and clear with Dubrovnik boasting only having about 109 rainy days per year.
There are many islands on this stretch of coastline. Most would be more exposed to the elements of the Mediterranean Sea than Lokrum which is protected by a much bigger island to the south and the mainland on the northern side, with deep channels about half a mile wide either side.
Then there is the water depth. Mountains go almost vertically into the sea. We see quite big boats very close to shore. There is no surf. Water is deep right up to the shoreline.
So the story of someone getting ship wrecked is a bit hard to take on board. Imagine getting ship wrecked on Fort Dennison in Sydney Harbour. It’s akin to drowning in a bath.
But maybe it puts old Richard into question. Some question which way his compass pointed.
He had the reputation of being a bad child who became a bad man, a bad husband, a bad king, a fierce fighter and great battle leader.
How did he get shipwrecked in the boringly calm water at Lokrum Island?
Maybe he was a land lubber and no sea dog.
Did his crew mutiny and throw him overboard?
One comment in his defence was that it was the fault of the Venetian ship he was on. Maybe the Venetians fondness for ankle deep water fitted the ship with leaks to give it that homely sinking feeling.
Maybe the thought of a deep wine cave on a colony of celibate Benedictine monks was too much for Richard and he scuttled his ship.
At any rate no one bothered to record exactly how it happened. Richard was not on TV, or in a movie or a sports star – so he could not have been important enough to get all the details.
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