Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dubvrovnik, come rain or come shine

Luckily, we had more shine than rain. But first, we had to get there. It's a long drive from Split to Dubvronik. We meant to get on the A1 highway, but missed the sign on leaving town – very easy when your Croatian is limited to "hvala" ("thank you") and the road signs are designed for locals who know where they're going anyway – and found ourselves on the E65 – a very winding picturesque route that follows the coast-line. Picturesque is of no use to the driver, who's concentrating on not falling off the cliff or not running down pedestrians in small towns and villages. I proposed that we join the A1 at the first possible opportunity, which we did, at Ĺ estanovac. However, the A1 is an unfinished oeuvre, and about two-thirds of the way down we had to re-join the coastal E65 near somewhere with the endearing name Ploce (as in, "I'm going to plotz"). This proved to be a very convoluted drive in itself, that seemed to take us so far out of our way that I actually thought we were lost and would soon find ourselves in Bosnia-Herzegovina. But we didn't.

We'd consulted our trusty guide-book and decided which part of Dubrovnik we were aiming for, with the intent of finding a decent B&B not too far from the Old City. Ha! We went round and round in circles, up and down hills, fighting our way through traffic, and nearly gave up. Not that I know what that means; after all, we had to find somewhere to lay our weary heads. Luckily, when we made a dash for an empty parking space, we realized it was right next to a Sobe sign. Yay! A possible B&B and a parking spot?! That's nearly more than anyone can expect. As Fadila's husband pointed out, the city has around 5000 legal parking spaces for 20,000 cars.

Fadila and her husband run a lovely guesthouse within easy walking distance of Dubrovnik's old city. (Er, easy when going downhill, that is. Coming back uphill at the end of a touring day is a bit more challenging. But you can always catch the bus uphill.) We gratefully dumped our stuff in the bedroom, and accepted their gracious invitation to join them for a glass of chilled white wine on the patio. The patio, it turns out, is also where breakfast is served. One day it will be shaded by vines overhead. Currently there are some vines, and an awning ready to be pitched as needed.

Fadila is a very attentive and caring hostess, and I'm sure you'll be very comfortable there, unless you're expecting rural peace & quiet with only the sound of chirping birds and the occasional mooing cow. This is a bustling city, and it bustles. Personally, it didn't bother me, I just ignored it. But you should be prepared.

Fadila and I saying goodbye:

As in the other cities we visited, the main attraction is the old city. We went from Small to Medium to Large. So if you start with Dubrovnik and then go to Rovinj, say, you'll "run out" of old city sooner than you expect. The sight I enjoyed most when walking on the city walls was the sea of orange roofs. Thing is, these eye-catching orange tiles are brand new, replacing the old decrepit ones and the ones damaged by recent wars.

We looked for gifts or souvenirs for "the kids" but found nothing worthwhile. The expensive labels are available at similar shops in Israel and elsewhere; the knicknacks are kitschy, and who really needs a T-shirt that says Dubrovnik on it? There was one T-shirt I liked, it said Volim Pivo, which means I love beer :-) Should have gotten that for Baby, to get him started on the right track in life without the ganenet(nursery teacher) catching on... Except perhaps if she's a native of those parts and understands and would henceforth look askance at his parents.

I did buy a large beach towel, though, since we'd booked places aboard the Rodulfo for an island-hopping "cruise": a sailboat with a few dozen tourists going to 3 islands, plus lunch, and soft drinks and wine as much as you want. For beer you have to pay extra, but wine is free.

Aboard the Rudolfo:

I hadn't brought anything suitable for lazing on a beach (no shorts or sandals), but as it turned out, the hoodie and scarf I brought along came much more in handy: on the way back the sky turned grey, the wind picked up, the water was choppy and splashed in our faces. The more experienced travelers got out their high-quality Polartecs, while those in T-shirts shivered bravely. Among the shivering ones was Paloma, a soft-spoken psychologist from the Canary Islands with whom we became friendly on this "cruise". Only half-way back to shore did it suddenly occur to us that Michael was carrying this brand-new big towel in his backpack. We offered it to Paloma who wrapped it around her and made me feel less guilty as I sat snugly wrapped in three layers.

For the rest of our experiences in Dubrovnik, wait for my next post.

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