Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!


Croatia. First thing that comes to mind is the war in the 90s and how it left a scar, emotional and physical, on the country. Dubrovnik was no exception.


We arrived on Monday afternoon about 1 p.m. in the afternoon. The overnight cruise from Venice was uneventful and quite soothing with the calm waters. This would prove to be one of the best sailing nights as we would come to discover after our overnight to Sorrento…. But I digress… we are talking about Dubrovnik.


Dubrovnik is a walled city that has been conquered and reconquered by many. The Venetians most notably left their mark in architecture and in person. Jean and Kathleen set out on a bus tour to see the Croatian Riviera before walking around the walled city of Dubrovnik. Jbom and I focused our time on the walled city itself, which began with a panoramic view of the city from above before going through Pile Gate.


Our guide was very, very good. Her name was Jackie and like our Venice tour, she met our tender from the ship (they use the lifeboats to transfer guests back and forth from the ship to the shore when the ship is too large to come into port). The coach ride to the top of the cliff was typical, but the view was fantastic below as you can see. The weather was really ideal and we were out walking around the city in the morning before it got too hot that you needed to search for a shady spot right away.


We went through a number of buildings and learned about the history of the area. The city was completely walled in and protected from enemies from the tall ridge north of the city. Jackie, our guide, explained that during the war in the 90s, the city was never taken even though it was cut off from drinking water and other necessary supplies. In certain areas you could see the battle scars of shrapnel on the side of some of the older Venetian-style buildings. Much of the city was rebuilt very quickly after the war… trying for their own sake to make it a distant memory as quickly as possible.


In one building, the old city hall, we came across a statue of a gentleman that looked remarkably like jbom’s father. I am totally serious. And at the bottom of the statue, the inscription read:


Michael Piratto Benemerito… another spelling for jbom’s family name.


So, it looks like his family may have some Sicilian relations in Venice that came to Dubrovnik! Love that profile! 😉


Shopping was good… although I didn’t stop for anything. The local businesses utilize the old lanterns that hang outside of each shop as their shop signage… pretty clever. I would imagine that in the evening that when the lantern is on, you can see the shop’s sign. It is small, but effective. And nothing like the typical signage that you would normally see that would stand out in the old part of Dubrovnik and definitely be out of place.


At the end of the tour we walked around near the wall that encircles the city…a bout 2-1/2 miles overall in length. It is in very good shape and many walk the wall. jbom and I returned to the ship to enjoy a little time on the sun deck instead 😉


So that was Dubrovnik. Jean and Kathleen saw mostly the same things and had similar observations. The rest of the day we spent back on the ship and we sailed out of port early Tuesday morning for Kotor… just a short sail down the coast to Montenegro.