Aug 26, 2010

Divine Dubrovnik

I am often asked, “What is your favorite place?” I usually reply, “Wherever I am.” Which is true because every place has its special appeal. But, I was totally entranced by Dubrovnik, the walled city in Croatia. There is something magical about entering through Pile Gate remembering that at one time the drawbridge was raised every night, the gate closed, and the key given to the prince. From the gate the view of the city’s pedestrian promenade with the Bell Tower at the end is breathtaking.

Luckily, John and I had decided to spend a couple days within the city walls. Our home, Roka Apartment A3 was perfect with a small kitchen, private bath and a pretty rooftop patio. My husband and I set out to become reacquainted with Dubrovnik, which we had visited in the 80s when it was part of Yugoslavia. During the War of the Homeland in the 1990s the city took over a hundred direct hits but other than a map showing where the destruction occurred there is little evidence of the war. We were glad that we had decided to visit in October when the weather along the Croatian Riviera is glorious – blue skies and just the right amount of tourists.

I would awaken to the muted sounds of the city coming alive. First were the flocks of birds taking flight for the day, followed by clickety-clack of the hand-pulled delivery wagons, and then people chatting on their way to work. That was the signal that I needed to get out on the streets. I loved walking the streets in the early morning before the tourists arrived. I wandered through the morning market in the square near Pucic Palace where the scent of lavender filled the air, had coffee at a café, bought freshly-made stuffed peppers from the deli for our dinner, and people-watched from the steps of St. Blaise Church, which was built in 1715 to replace an earlier one destroyed in an earthquake. Dubrovnik is a living museum – a city where people live, work, and play and have since the seventh century - that is what makes it so special.

Our leisurely three-hour stroll atop the impressive city walls that were built between the 13th and 16th century afforded us spectacular views. One day we took the shuttle boat from Dubrovnik to Lokrum Island and wandered through the botanical garden. There are plenty of things to do in Dubrovnik both within and outside the walls including visiting museums, attending concerts, taking boat trips to various islands, and plethora of sport activities from swimming to kayaking. On our last night I enjoyed a candlelit string quartet concert in the 16th century St. Saviour Church.

We also spend several nights outside the walls in the nearby newly opened Radisson Blu Resort. The full-service resort has three swimming pools, a marina, a beautiful spa, and offers shuttle service to the walled city. It was the perfect spot for John and I for some R&R, which is a necessity on long trips. The view from the balcony of our room of the Adriatic Sea and islands was mesmerizing.

I told a local resident that, “I’d love to spend a month in Dubrovnik.” He warned, “Watch out. My family came here on vacation in the 1970s and we are still here.” Lucky them!