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Published: October 1st 2017
Geo: 42.4404, 18.7597
We were out of the condo at 9am. It was an easy drive to Dubrovnik. We parked in a parking garage right outside the old city, which was good, because the traffic into town was terrible. It was already very warm. We hiked down the many steps, following some spray-painted signs to "Old City" that actually worked. At the bottom of the steps was a café, offering omelets and coffee, so we had brekkies.
At 10am, we met our guide, Tomislav, near the main gate. We had ordered a combination historical and “Game of Thrones” tour. Tom had a book with photographs from the show, so we could see what particular shots were filmed in certain areas around the city. (The first season was filmed in Malta, but in all subsequent seasons Dubrovnik and environs have stood in for King's Landing and various sites “across the narrow sea.”😉 It was a fun informative tour.
We began with the fortress, which was (probably) built in the 10th century. The story is that Venice was going to build a fortress on the rocky tor to be used in case of warfare with Dubrovnik (which was a rival city state at the time).
The citizens of Dubrovnik learned of this plan and tried to build a fortress of their own … but they didn't have time. So they built a small church instead, which the Venetians feared to tear down as it would be desecration (and they were already in bad with the Pope). The seawall and northern wall are very thick, while the walls that face the city are thinner, allowing them to be destroyed easily in case the fortress were about to be lost to invaders. The views from the fortress are fabulous! Also a little sad: you can see all of the tile roofs of the city, and the bright red ones, of which there are many, are all the homes that were destroyed during the siege of Dubrovnik during the 1990s. Tomislav said that the city has only regained its pre-civil war tourist trade since 2010.
The tour then moved into the city. The gate at the entrance has only been closed twice: when Napoleon invaded and when HBO wanted to use the gate for a scene where Jamie Lannister returns to King's Landing. Ah, the power of HBO. The small area just inside the gate has been used a
lot, as it is easy to cordon off and easy to remove all traces of modernity. When they film here, they have to close out the tourists, which is hard to imagine as it was VERY crowded today.
There are three monasteries in the city: Jesuit (with its university), Dominican (with its school), and Franciscan, with its apothecary, which happens to be the oldest continuing working apothecary in Europe. We peered inside but did not visit: it was crowded with tourists. We then toured a number of different sites, where various scenes were shot. We learned that Dubrovnik had a small council, run by aristocrats, who were elected for short periods of time. Originally, they were elected for six-month stints, but, apparently, one became a tyrant and dictator for life. After he was gone, they changed the period of office to one month, which seems like a difficult way to manage a city, but the bureaucrats remained the same, so maybe it all worked out. There was also a period of time in which Venice ruled the city.
When the tour was over, we said good-bye to Tomislav in a little shop where they make filigree beads. I liked the beads, which
can be worn as pendants, so we bought one. We then had an excellent lunch at one of the restaurants, at the tops of the steps, where there was a nice breeze. After lunch, we toured the city walls, which was lovely, but Kyla had a low, so we had to sit on the steps for a while to wait for her to recover.
So we decided it was time to head towards Montenegro. Paying the parking garage was a pain, but we managed to make it work.
The drive to Montenegro was beautiful – all along the seafront. The border crossing was relatively painless; we had to wait for a couple of motorcyclists who seemed to have problems with their papers, but it was mostly, for us, a formality.
Montenegro looks very much like I expected: very mountainous territory, with small cities clinging to the coastline. We circled the bay, which is bow-shaped, and managed not to be pulled over by any of the three police checks we passed (although one guy pulled the car behind us over). It definitely makes me less inclined to take a long drive tomorrow.
Our hotel is lovely, nestled against the sea. We have a
gorgeous view from our room of the bay and the mountains beyond; the kids have a view from their room of the mountains. We had a very tasty dinner on the terrace overlooking the bay.
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