Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dubrovnik, or: Cruise Ships!!

It's true that when I remember my day in Dubrovnik, I'll think of this:

But it's just as true that I'll think of this:

Ay yi yi. The walled city is relatively small and close, and I'll bet there were dozens of gangs of cruise ship people and more dozens who were in bus tours. I still laugh remembering this one: a woman in a tour group asked her tour guide why there were so many people and when the tour guide explained about the cruise ship onslaught, the woman complained about it. While she was in one of those groups. Crazy.

The day we went was a hazy, overcast day - the lone day of this vacation that had less than perfect weather. And it wasn't bad; in fact, I think it was a perfect day for our trip to Dubrovnik. We took a ferry from Cavtat, which took a surprisingly long 45 minutes for an 18km distance (on land - we were going more as the crow flies, so it was undoubtedly shorter). Still. Who cares, going to see Dubrovnik.

We followed the hordes into the walled old city and saw these things from the ground:

Oh hi! Marc, in front of the Pile Gate which was the entrance to the old city.
As always, that's the patron saint above the gate, and he holds in his left hand
the entire walled city.
This guy playing his music. I don't know the exact type of stringed instrument he
was playing, but that thing on the ground was noisy. He stomped it with his foot
as percussion accompaniment.
The Onofrio fountain, which brought water from a very long way away.
Most of the decorative bits around the perimeter were destroyed in that infamous
earthquake of 1667. What a strange frame of reference for an American, with our
short memories and history. Here's one of the remaining carvings. They're
kind of creepy up close.
This pieta above one of the major churches isn't quite as
rigor mortis-ey as the one in Rab, but still. Where's the grace,
where's the soft agony?
Of course people live and work in the old city, and since the main streets were
super clogged with tour people, we headed up the little streets to see how people live.
Lookie, looking down toward the city:
Or up, if you prefer:
And yes, people have very lovely homes, at times. This one had a beautiful
terrace, graced with vines overhead and an obscene fountain. See the statue on the lower right?
The fountain is a woman sitting as if to give birth, and the water comes out, well,
where water comes out. I wasn't at all offended, of course, I've just never
seen anything quite like it. And it was anatomically exact.
So after a bit of walking and climbing, we decided to walk the top of the wall. Up we went, and from that perspective here's what we saw, in addition to the photo at the top:

Standard red tiled roofs. However, if you know how to read them, you
see the bombing that happened in the 1991 war. The darkest roofs are brand new
because they were completely destroyed. The faded ones were not hit. There
aren't that many of those. And some, obviously, are mixed. So much devastation,
I can't imagine how it looked after the war ended.
Donofrio fountain from above:
And the placa, the main thoroughfare through town. I'm standing at the
beginning of it, and that clock tower you see in the distant middle is the end.
It's not very large, but it's very packed.
And this fort, which is freestanding away from the walled city, but close.
It covered attacks from sea and land. They weren't prepared for
attacks from the sky.
Another part of the wall:
And a sentry post:
And this luscious, gorgeous thing:
We couldn't figure out the meaning of this bit of graffiti, but it was kind of
near the high school (we watched the students through the windows):

I'm very glad we saw Dubrovnik; I really loved the wall, and the idea of the place. And we didn't need more time than we spent. We hopped on the next ferry and headed back to Cavtat and ate something wonderful, I'm sure. I just don't remember now.

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