Saturday, December 14, 2013

Dubrovnik, Croatia


Dubrovnik, a beautiful city on the Adriatic Sea. Tiled roofs. An old town with city walls to hike. Seafood. The sea. All things that I love. I was excited to spend a few days exploring the area.
We arrived on a misty, rainy day but the coast and old town were breathtaking. I checked the travel times for our next destination (Mostar, Bosnia) while mom got money. She was confused on the money already. I think five different monetary values was too much in a short time period. I can't tell you how many times I have found her sitting with baggies sorting and counting her money. I know she will get it but it takes time to get all the exchange rates correct and not confusing the coins when we go on to the next country. She just wishes everyone was on the Euro, would make her life simpler. Unfortunately, that isn't an option. I keep joking with her that it keeps her mind sharp.
We jumped in a taxi and he called our apartment owner to meet us. We were walking up a few flights of stairs when Mr Grgich passed us. He looked at me and asked "Michelle?" Yes! He walked us to our cute little apartment. We walked in and were pleased with Apartment Grgich. Clean and comfortable and the best shower on our adventure! Personally, I liked the view of the Old Town church tower from the window. 

We decided to eat first and then take a the gondola up to the top of the mountain for a view of the area.
Dubrovnik feels a little more Italian. Fresh seafood, delicious gelato and gorgeous sea views. As we arrived at the hilltop, we walked around the fort. There are still remnants of the Seige on Dubrovnik  October 1991-May 1992 when the Yugoslav's People's Army attacked the Croatian's. There was a memorial to the first soldier killed when fighting broke out. He was a few years younger than me. Large holes in the wall of the fortress which were damaged with artillery.
It is sad. I realized all of this was going on after I graduated college. The men that were killed were my age, my brothers and classmates would have been fighting. The owner of our guesthouse was 63 and had told me he lived all his life in Dubrovnik.  He told me 2/3 of old town was damaged in the fighting. It was sad as Dubrovnik had been the jewel of Yugoslavia. He never thought the fighting would come to his home. He thought Dubrovnik would be spared since it was a beautiful old town. It wasn't. War broke out in 1991 And lasted until May 1992. I felt for him and his friends and family. He said that is life. Everyone rebuilt and Croatia was a free country. He told me war teaches you nothing is forever or free. There is a price to pay. Now, he is happy talking with friends and tourists and playing chess every day. Not knowing everything about the war and traveling through several countries, I went with an approach to not take sides. I listened and sympathized with all sides. I hate war.  I think it should always be a last ditch effort after all attempts of diplomacy have been exhausted. Too many innocent men, women and children die. 

We returned to our apartment and made dinner then went to bed to read. 

In the morning, it was raining. Our plan was to walk the Old Town wall. Not in this weather. So, plan B was laundry. I had made mom whittle down her backpack since she was stubborn and insisted on carrying her own clothes. She only had a few outfits and we were both a little grungy. I found a cute little launderette to do a couple quick loads.
It was a fun laundromat and only cost a portion of doing it myself. I relaxed, listened to 50's an 60's rock-n-roll and felt like a sitcom character waiting for the Fonz to take me away! Wine would have made it better! Afterwards I packed up the laundry, grabbed a few groceries and went to have lunch with mom. 
The skies cleared up in the afternoon and it was time to walk the Old Town walls. I was taking mom on this walk, it didn't look hard. It appeared relatively flat. We walked up the two flights of stairs. As we entered, the young man taking tickets asked "you Australian?" No, American. He smiled and told us not many Americans come to Croatia. Really? That surprised me. I know many people that have traveled to Dubrovnik but I guess in relation to other countries it is likely very low. As I walked the wall and looked across the city, all I see are red tiles. It was noticeable which tiles were new and replaced after the war and which buildings survived the fighting. 
There were more steps then I realized. Oh no! I am going to hurt my mother. Her back is still injured and I need her to stay healthy as we travel. She promised to tell me when she was done. She walked the first 1/3 and then decided to meet me at the end. I was going to have to hurry before the wall closed. I said my goodbye and we agreed to meet at the end or the city center. 
The walk around the city provided beautiful views of the homes, gardens and patios. But the most magnificent view was the views along the ocean. 
I was only able to complete 3/4 of the wall since it was closing and I got kicked off. I went to the end to find mom. She wasn't there. Ok, I checked the benches by the drawbridge. No mom. Then I walked to the city center. No mom. I walked to the opposite gate and she was not there either. Where had I lost here? I walked back and found her shopping in the Main Street. We decided to sit down and enjoy a drink. I was cold and ordered  a hot chocolate. The woman told me it was not chocolate but cacao. Even better. When it arrived she brought a shot of water and 2 sugar packets. I looked at the chocolate goodness in my cup. Mmmm! I lifted it to my lips and was overjoyed! This was like warm pudding. Not as sweet since it was raw cacao and that explained the sugar packets. Mom had a taste and we both agreed it was delicious! Not what I expected but I was pleased! Dessert an warmth all in one! 

We sat in the cafe watching the local kids play soccer in the piazza, rollerblade and skateboard.
After the soccer game, the boys took a break for some refreshing water at the local fountain.
 It must be fun now that the tourists are gone and they can enjoy themselves. I love moments like this. Just sitting and watching life. It started to rain and we decided to go home and make soup for dinner. We were leaving in the morning for Bosnia so I needed to get hotel rooms booked. Hopefully, the rain will stop before morning. I hate walking in the rain with my backpack. 

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