October 30, 2019
Now we come to the fourth country I had never visited before: Croatia. When I got there, I wondered why the song, "Way Down upon the Swanee River" was going through my head. And then I came to line, "All up down the whole Croatia . . ." If you think my sense of humor is warped, the stuff my brain furnishes me is even worse. Well, we weren't going all up and down, but just to Dubrovnik which is about as far south as one can go in Croatia. You can read about the long and complicated history of Ragusa/Dubrovnik for yourself in Wikipedia. Of most recent interest was the war in the Balkans following the death of Marshall Tito, when Dubrovnik was under siege by the neighboring countries. Some minor damage was left unrepaired for remembrance sake.
We didn't have a tour booked there, and Torrey came down with an earache and stayed in bed, so I was on my own that day. There are three main things to see and do in Dubrovnik, according to Rick: You can walk around the city wall; you can take the cable car up the mountain; you can wander the streets of the old town, visit churches and museums, and have the option of shopping and eating. I chose the third option. There probably was time to do two of them. Rick says that the city wall walk is the best choice. Perhaps I would be regaling you with amazing pictures if I had done that, or at least pictures of tops of buildings.
The bus from the ship dropped us off at the Pile (pronounced PEE-lay) plaza near the west gate of the Old Town. There you find the tourist office and ATMs. Supposedly you can buy museum passes and such, but everywhere I asked told me to go somewhere else for the kind of pass I wanted. Since I would be paying à la carte, I wouldn't be paying by card, so I needed local currency, and thus visited the ATM. This was the only place I visited that I needed something other than euros or credit cards. The Croatian monetary unit is the "kuna," which has nothing to do with the word "koruna," meaning "crown," which in various spellings is used for currency in a variety of nations. "Kuna" means "marten," from back when trade was done in valuable marten pelts. Fortunately the ATM issued paper money rather than the actual animal skins. I took out the minimum 200 kn, which turned out about right. I ended the day with 30 kn left, and meant to buy some Ice cream on the way out, but I didn't find any more shops at the time I was looking. So I have a ten and a twenty left as a souvenir, together worth $4 or $5.
Also from that area is a great view of the Fort of St. Lawrence, Dubrovnik's oldest fortification.
At the Pile Gate into Old Town is a statue of their patron St. Blaise holding Dubrovnik in his arm.
Here he is again inside the wall. Most of us would know his name just from Pascal's first name.
At the plaza inside the gate is Onofrio's Big Fountain. Mediæval aqueducts brought water from the mountains into the city. This is the first and biggest fountain in that system. Rick says that the water supply was crucial in making the town resistant to sieges.
Across from the fountain is the Church of St. Savior, built in honor of surviving the 1520 earthquake. It was one of the few buildings that survived the 1667 earthquake. Beside the church are stairs leading up to the top of the city wall.
The Franciscan church
Steep, narrow streets lead up the hills away from the main street.
St. Blaise's Church was being repaired, so I was able to see just the top of the building.
Nearby is the Dominican Monastery and museum.
Up the stairs there is a gallery of paintings by contemporary local artists.
Inside the Dominican monastery chapel
Nobles elected a rector to rule the Republic of Dubrovnik for a one-month term. This is the Rector's Palace.
A clock mechanism was made for the Rector's Palace tower in the late 1300s. It was moved to the town hall tower in the mid-1400s. It was cleaned and rebuilt, etc., over the centuries, and replaced eventually. The light and neutral tones of this picture make it look like an old postcard. So I went back to my original picture files to confirm that it is my picture of the real clock. Another shot shows it in the context of the room.
The cathedral is just to the south of the Rector's Palace. The original one was funded in the twelfth century by King Richard the Lionhearted of England after he survived a shipwreck nearby on the way back from a crusade. That one was destroyed by the 1667 earthquake. This replacement was built in Baroque style in the eighteenth century.
Napoleon built a fortress on top of Mount Srđ. You can take a cable car up there. For an extra $250, you can buy a vowel.
We sailed away in the late afternoon.