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The traveler: An expected journey This time it's the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden & Norway before England again for several weeks and on to Croatia.

Rainy day highlights in southern Dalmatia

CROATIA | Saturday, 17 November 2018 | Views [339]

The beautiful inlet and Fort Lovrijenac.

The beautiful inlet and Fort Lovrijenac.

Perhaps what I will remember most of visiting these places with my Colorado friend is talking at cafes and restaurants down narrow cobblestone streets while waiting for better weather, and alternately being soaked by the rain. Out of about 7 days we saw 1 truly sunny day, which we soaked up high above Dubrovnik.

The city’s most notable attraction is its medieval, stone wall, which unlike any other I’ve seen encompasses 360 degrees of the old town. For a rather pricy fee of about $22 you are allowed to climb the 100 plus steps up to the walkway atop the thick stone battlements. Apparently these walls were strong enough to prevent even Napoleon from tearing them down in the early 19th century to “improve the health of cities with fresh air”. 

The views of the ocean and Fort Lovrijenac across the inlet from atop the wall were incredibly striking, and truly medieval picturesque. Each day we spent many minutes (from different places) watching the waves crashing over the rocks in this inlet and pouring across the stone walkway around the harbor. The scene irresistibly reminded me of the entrance to the cave in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, only rather brighter and more inviting!

I also had the rare pleasure of wandering through a candy shop, which I likened to Honeydukes Sweet Shop, with barrels of different chocolates and colorful candies. There were even a few befitting Halloween (just 2 days away) including jelly like teeth and anatomically correct tongues. 

On the second night in Dubrovnik my friend and I decided to attend a concert at the local music school we’d seen advertised around town (after we’d translated the poster). It was quite unlike any American concert I’ve been too. The three groups of performers alternated coming and leaving from the stage several times over the course of an hour or so. One group might play, or sing 2-3 songs, but the audience only clapped at the end of the set before they walked off. The piano, flute, violin, and cello music was very lively, but lost us later on with a lack of rhythm. The young female singer took both of us by surprise with the deep quality of her voice, and both singers I think would be well suited to the opera!

For a somewhat smaller city Dubrovnik had an amazing variety and number of places of worship (lacking only a mosque). Upon entering the Orthodox Church I immediately found it strikingly different. Rather than an alter at the top of the room a guilt, wooden wall spanning the width of the church decorated 4 life sized portraits of the usual religious figures. However rather than scenes of death and suffering they were depicted simply standing there with the Bible, or other significant symbols in their hands. Above this was a mural of the Last Supper. In it’s elegant simplicity and also lack of a huge cross front and center I found it a pleasant and welcoming change.

Any mention of Dubrovnik would be incomplete with talking about the variety and number of cats around almost any turn, some rather scruffy, some sleeker; some kittens, some full grown. My friend had an especially good eye for spotting them! A few of them were even kind enough to allow a bit of a pet. 

The museums in Dubrovnik, as the guidebook said, were rather underwhelming. The living museum of Diocletian’s palace in Split was quite a bit better. Especially with a walking tour, which I signed up for through Airbnb (a first for me), I learned quite a bit behind what I was seeing from the history of the palace in Roman times to current excavation of the basements which had to stop in certain sections because of the house foundations directly above! One room in the basement in particular with a concentric ceiling had amazing an amplification. Just a whisper was magnified into a strong voice. 

The Cathedral of Saint Domnius (one of the smallest in the world), which was originally intended to be Diocletian’s mausoleum, had a grander and equally impressive ceiling (though I didn’t test it’s amplification abilities). In fact the Cathedral is so small that the baptismal font has to be located in a separate building, originally created at the Temple of Jupiter. What I found most beautiful and fascinating here was the collection of colorful and varied currency that has been dropped into the baptismalfont rather like a wishing well without water.

On one rainy afternoon my friend and I found a particularly atmospheric little restaurant in Split. The warm tomato soup was just perfect for the rainy day! Low and behold they also had pumpkin pie on the menu, which is my friend’s absolutely favorite, and a perfect way to celebrate Halloween, which was rather an un-noted holiday in Croatia. It was certainly different than our typical pumpkin pie, and much lighter in flavor. After eating and thinking my friend finally touched upon the likeness of the pumpkin pie with cornbread, which was quite accurate.

The best night we had was probably when we decided we’d had enough of wandering around the wet town and would stay in, cook dinner, and watch a movie. It was a great combination! 

Someone once told me when they travel for an extended time they build in a couple days just to do nothing. Sounds counterintuitive? You should definitely give it a try. It doesn’t seem like you should need a break from traveling, but oh, it is so needed!

Our last night in Zagreb before miraculously flying out together on the same flight booked weeks apart, was another evening for being soaking wet. I saw just enough of Zagreb on my walk across town to meet my friend at our chosen museum to know that I would definitely like to come back for a day or two to explore (preferably with the sun!).

The Museum of Broken Relationships was a great place to begin drying out, and a very innovative museum. Composed of several rooms there are various objects on display accompanied by descriptions from the donor of the relationship they embodied. Some descriptions consisted of just a couple lines: “She loved antiques - as long as things were old and didn’t work. That is precisely the reason why we are not together anymore.” Others were long essays and hard to follow, or occasionally very deep and moving. Most were a paragraph or two with just enough details to image part of the relationship, but really free of any structure or requirement for the story. Perhaps most ironically 3-4 of the maybe 100 objects and stories were from Boulder/Denver Colorado! Perhaps a fitting end to my time in Croatia and the beginning of my trip home.

Tags: cats, churches, city walls, concerts, diocletians palace, dubrovnik, museum of broken relationships, split, zagreb


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