Croatia is Magical: Day Trip to Dubrovnik

Last week, I described in likely far too many words how after only being told by my father as a child and then again as an adult, that my last name (and therefore my ancestry) was “Yugoslavian” (my father reasserted this claim even after Yugoslavia, which only really existed for a handful of decades, dissolved into the disparate factions that had been ruled over by a variety of entities for centuries–my father is an engineer, not a historian).

After a visit to the region in college, I “determined” that I was, in fact, Serbian, one of the many distinct nationalities that were once incorporated under the Yugoslavian flag. Then, as a result of a brutal and senseless war perpetrated by mostly the Serbs (which included accusations of genocide), I came to “believe” that I was Croatian.

I was under that delusion until this past Spring when I spit into a vial and sent it off to 23 & Me.

Now, before you judge me for willingly giving up my DNA to a company whose main purpose is to exploit my genetic information for profit (profit which they have no intention to share with me), save your breath (or keystrokes).

I have read all about the cons of voluntarily giving up my DNA and it really does not bother me as much as it apparently should. Why not? Pretty simple: I have tried pretty hard not to commit any felonies (unless you consider joining a bowling league as a crime against the state–if you do, let me know as we start “rolling” next week, so there is still time to back out). Yes, that information could potentially be used by a host of entities that would like to limit my freedom, but unlike Archduke Ferdinand I will (hopefully) cross that Princeps Bridge when I get there (those of you that picked up on what I did just there get extra credit).

My much anticipated 23 & Me report landed with a bit of a dud, but it did assert that I was not Croatian. Nor Serbian. And certainly not “Yugoslavian.” No, apparently I am of Slovenian descent (or at least the part of me that is associated with my last name).

Quick. Name a famous Slovenian.

If you are like me, all you came up with was Melania Trump.

Moving on.

Despite the revelation that I was no longer what I had believed I was for so many years (yes, I am ignoring the shared heritage I may have with anyone whose last name rhymes with “rump”), I still had an unquenchable desire to visit my (now former) “homeland” (a couple of generations on my father’s side were born in Cleveland–I have been there with little desire to return, so that is not what I mean).

I wanted to go back to Croatia, a country that I had visited briefly in college, but I had only been in Zagreb, the capital which is a couple hundred kilometers from the coast, for which the country is most known. Specifically, I wanted to see Dubrovnik, the “Jewell of the Adriatic” which had been badly affected by the war, but now, purportedly, has been completely restored to its former glory.

Just before school started up again for the boys, we decided to take a family vacation to Europe. The overwhelming consensus was to visit Rome, where none of the four of us had ever been. Through a bit of cajoling, I was able to convince my brood to include nearly a week in the Dalmatian (the coastal region of Croatia) capital of Split.

They also agreed, much to my glee, to take a trip down the coast and spend a day in Dubrovnik. I think I can safely say that both Split and Dubrovnik were memorable for all. Here are a few photographs of that day:

The drive down the coast was spectacular. We decided to hire a car service for the day as it made the most sense and we stopped a couple of times during the 4+hour drive, including at this vineyard. It was a spectacular spot, but I refused to partake in a tasting–I was keeping my eye on the prize.

Up until recently, the drive down the coast (which includes a brief 20 kilometers in Bosnia—don’t forget your passports!) was even longer. The addition of this suspension bridge shaved about an hour of the drive.

Pulling up to the old town of Dubrovnik, the defensive walls are impressive.

Once inside the walls, our tour guide gave us a bit of the history of the town.

Great views abound from the ramparts, and the tiles indicate which roofs were destroyed in the war (the bright orange tiles are the new roofs, the more earth tone roofs either survived the bombing or were rebuilt with intact tiles gathered from all over the city).

I have to admit that I like the orange tiles, but they are also a grim reminder of what happened to the city.

The view from the top is stunning, and that must be one really cool place to play basketball.

After a bit of time around the ramparts, we had a rather steep and narrow descent down to the base of the old town.

On the way down, the guide pointed out these curious holes that festoon most of the residences in the city. Since the dwellings are quite narrow inside, wooden rods are inserted in these holes to support the ropes that are used to hoist belongings up to the higher levels of the home–it is often impossible to get larger items up the narrow stairwells. This method, still used today, has been used for centuries.

Should you ever make it to Dubrovnik, be ready to battle the crowds.

I was fascinated by the roofs and tiles, in the foreground a new roof…

…which used the new, factory manufactured tiles.

The old tiles are in high demand and can fetch a rather high price as people look to restore buildings to their pre-war state. Underneath, one can see that new tiles were used for the actual roof and the old tiles were placed on top for aesthetics.

There is no denying that the lack of uniformity in the old tiles is beautiful.

I took a lot of pictures of the roofs.

This might be my favorite.

The town was fairly easily defended for most of its history. Until very recently, the drawbridges were raised at night and there was virtually no way to get into the old town.

The only way to get in was through the port, which was fairly easily defended…

…with just a few of these bad boys.

The main “drag” if you will in the center of town.

St. Ignatius church.

The water is never far away in Dubrovnik…

…it’s always just on the other side of the imposing wall.

I’ll be back next week with a few more photos including a few that will get the Game of Thrones folk all excited!


About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
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1 Response to Croatia is Magical: Day Trip to Dubrovnik

  1. Sheree says:

    Great photos! My famous Slovenians were all cyclists, never gave MT a single thought.


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