Star Date: September 2016
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
"The hunchback sees the hump of others -- never his own."
In 1929 Bernard Shaw wrote, "Those who wish to see heaven on earth should come to Dubrovnik. A place with rich history, nestled in Nature, with breath taking vistas to the azure Sea below."
In the scorching summer heat of the Mediterranean, water has been essential and prized. Fountains have always been a symbol of prosperity and when entering the gates of the Old City of Dubrovnik, you are greeted by a fountain gushing fresh water. Around the city small fountains with spouts for drinking are available. A great silver trade went through the city, adding to the wealth of this liquid silver.
Everyone knows Dubrovnik. The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. Offering a safe port in the storms, Dubrovnik has been the center for merchants and traders for over 1000 years. It rivaled Venice and together with nearby Korcula this area boomed. Wealthy merchants worked this to their benefit and became powerful, with much wealth and power remaining to this day. Skillful ship builders became famous around the Mediterranean and still build boats living up to their reputation. Life still revolves around the sea with lively marinas, docks, and tasty seafood restaurants. Dubrovnik is picturesque. With fortresses, bridges, palaces, chapels, terraces, town squares, monastic cloisters this medieval city creates the perfect atmosphere for the arts, music and theater and festivals. 'Gundulic' or love of the common good and striving for freedom has shaped Dubrovnik through the centuries, Poets have shaped their tender feelings and love poems or 'canzonieri' trying to capture the plight of the human condition in search of happiness.
Many documents mention the town of Korcula and the island of the same name near Dubrovnik, as the place of origin of the Polo family. Marco Polo set forth to explore the East, by way to Venice. Battles were always raging between the different 'warlords' of the Genoa and Venice trade routes. Marco Polo was captured, at age 44, while in the midst of one such vicious maritime battles. Thrown into jail in Genoa he began to write his 24 year adventures in the then unexplored parts of the east. As he wasn't much of a writer, he dictated his recollections to French writer Rustichello. The original title was "Divisament don Monde" - The Description of the World. Later it was changed to "II Millione" or A Million Wonders. It became the second most translated book, after the Bible, in history. The travels of Marco Polo, his father, and Uncle exploded the minds of scholars, historians, sociologists, geographers, anthropologists and ethnologists. Shifting Europe's idea of the known world they first heard about Tibet, Madagascar and Japan in the unknown world. They marveled at the novel idea of paper money, coal, oil and porcelain. They were awed by Polo's description of wondrous landscapes, useful plants, strange animals and spices; and a wealth of Chinese inventions like blocks in printing, medicine and gun powder. The Chinese compass became an essential instrument in navigation. All this aside the Europeans and everyone else fell in love with the Chinese culinary delight of spaghetti, brought to their dining table by none other than Marco Polo!
Dubrovnik is made of stone. Since ancient times things have been made from stone. Time leaves a small mark on stone and it quickly adds beauty and harmony to its surrounding. While part of Nature it is sometimes hostile, in the walls of a house it is sturdy, in carvings it is flexible, under the feet of many passer-by it is smooth and enduring. Resistant but vulnerable, hard but fragile, craftsmen have created a work of art and architectural masterpieces up and down the Dalmatian Coast.
The Old Town of Dubrovnik is a fascinating maze of cobblestone streets. Site of filming "Game of Thrones" it is fun to see remnants of this fast moving show through out the city. Brsalje Square near an entrance to Old Town has a good view of the ocean. This is a place that for centuries has offered a quiet refuge for writers to contemplate, write and discuss. Eating, browsing through shops, sitting in a quiet garden, one reflects on what people have walked on these stones or over the polished doorsteps through history.
Never ending steps. It takes 2 hours to walk around on the top of the massive stone wall surrounding Old Town. This medieval wall was built to protect residents from the attacks of the Serbians. Conflict is ingrained in this part of the Adriatic and at time still erupts in diplomatic disputes. Views of the city and the picturesque harbor from the heights are stunning. Dubrovnik was founded prior to the 7th century as a Byzantium castrum on a rocky island named Laus. It took over 11 years to complete the wall in the 10th century. With numerous additions and modifications throughout their history, they have been considered to be amongst the great fortification systems of the Middle Ages. They were never breached by an enemy army during this time.
We walked down to the harbor and caught a boat down the coast about 45 minutes to Cavtat. This was a lazy little coastal town with a lovely walk around the peninsula. We stayed with Jele and her amazing family in a community just north of Dubrovnik, near Lapad Beach. We walked from our apartment to the beach and continued on the path along the ocean. This was home to gorgeous Croat sunsets!
We spent several days getting lost in the back alleys within the castle like enclosure of Dubrovnik. One can walk around on the top of the wall, or the inside of the wall or just randomly wander. At each 'dead end' alley lies a fascinating little shop or home or garden or cafe. At no time lost, just observing, exploring, enjoying the moment and seeing where life takes you......
And so it goes.........................................Next Montenegro and Albania as we continue exploring the unique Balkan region. Until then let's remember to take care of our own shortcomings before pointing out shortcomings in those around us. Take care and Keep in Touch!
Love, Light & Laughter,
1 US Dollar equals
6.90 Croatian Kuna
Hi Nancy and Joseph,
Boat times from Split
Kapetan Luka - fast boat Split - Dubrovnik