My last destination in Croatia was Dubrovnik. The harbor town has a long tradition and today is one of the prime destinations on the Adriatic coast. This is one of the reasons, why there are so many tourist visiting the city. Centuries ago, the city had a different name though.
From Mostar, the road leads South-West, along the Neretva river to Croatia. The rough mountains make room for rolling hills. The tall trees and the green grass disappear and instead one can see dry grass and shrubs, which indicates a much dryer climate than in the mountains. The valleys finally are wide enough to allow for orchards and vineyards. Fruits found here are oranges, mandarins and lemons.
One of the left-overs of the war are twisted borders between countries. It is hard to keep track in which country you currently are. If I didn’t lose count, I showed my passport 5 times on 3 border crossings (the Croatian border patrol probably being to lazy to check us on the re-entry into Bosnia).
Seeing the large cruise-ships, I realized that we had arrived in Dubrovnik. When I got off the bus, I was challenged with a multitude of people who had rooms to let. Next, I had to find the exit of the bus station, which was not obvious, since I had to look behind the buses… As always, the Croats were kind enough to help out.
Once I had found the exit of the bus station, I immediately found a bus stop for the city buses. Which bus line to take from here to Lapad? A young lady indicated, I should take bus 1A for 3 stops and then change to bus number 6. The bus driver suggested I take bus number 7, which was the direct line, but only running once every 30 minutes. The young lady went into the same direction, so I just followed her.
Once I got to the center of Lapad, I had no idea in which direction I had to go. Since I had helped an older lady twice to get here shopping bag out of the bus, I asked here, whether she could help. She could! She brought me to one corner from my home for the following two nights, the Villa Micika. That’s what I call service!
Since it was only 2pm, I took the bus to the old town of Dubrovnik. Taking the bus was routine at that point. The old town is surrounded by a tall city wall, from which one does not only have a great view of the old town, but also of the surroundings. Since the city wall is one of the big attractions of Dubrovnik, it is a one-way walk on top, one has to walk around the old town counter-clockwise.
Before I left Switzerland, I had bought a small back-pack for my photo equipment, in order to have a light back-pack, which can be stowed away in the big pack whenever I am taking the bus and which does not indicate that there is expensive photo-gear inside (although all of my equipment is light-years old, a lay person will not notice). My back-pack sports a small Swiss flag and the slogan “Switzerland – Alpine Country”. This small back-pack led to a couple of interesting discussions with two Croats: one has been living in Switzerland for 18 years, and was visiting his origins. The other one was a tourist from Krk in Northern Croatia. Interesting to have an exchange with people make a vacation in their own country.
Once the circle around the city was complete, I continued by strolling through the narrow streets of the old town. Since it was a little later in the afternoon, most of the people had already left so I had the city almost to myself.
Ragusa, the Swiss chocolate, was nowhere to be found in Dubrovnik (OK, I didn’t look very closely, I had other things in mind). But one remnant of the former name of Dubrovnik is still present: the name Argosy is deduced from Ragusa and there is not just a boat company by that name in Dubrovnik, but the harbor tours in Seattle, WA are also run by a company by the name of Argosy.
On Sunday, I took a closer look at the city and visited the island Lokrum, just off the coast from Dubrovnik. A nice experience to walk past the long line of people wanting to get back on their cruise ship and waiting for the shuttle boat. I only had to wait for 5 minutes, before my boat left for the 10 minute ride to the island. On Lokrum, one can walk through a Mediterranean forest, visit sights such as a botanical garden, a monastery and a fort or just relax in the restaurant or the café. Unfortunately for me, the one half of the island containing the fort was closed due to risk of fire.
That is why I took my time enjoying the botanical garden. It was created over 60 years ago by a researcher from Dubrovnik university with the goal to see whether plants from similar climate zones from around the world would survive here and could be made of use for agriculture. The life-work of the researcher was however destroyed during the recent war. Since there is still an interest in the research, it has been reconstructed by the university of Dubrovnik with financial aid from the state of Monaco.
One of my most interesting personal experience interestingly has nothing to do with Croats and Dubrovnik. It was my roommate. Already when I arrived on Saturday around 2pm, he was sitting in front of his computer, watching the rugby word-championships. When I returned later in the evening, he was sitting in front of the TV watching premier league soccer only to switch back to rugby on Sunday morning. Finally, when I got back from my excursion on Sunday, he was back in front of his computer watching soccer. Only for the sunset Sunday evening, he left TV and computer behind for what was about half an hour to take some pictures. Interesting idea of traveling foreign countries…
This morning however, he got up before I did. Apparently he took the early bus to Sarajevo. My bus only left at 10am, which gave me enough time even to enjoy a very good breakfast for the champions. What happened on the bus-ride to Budva in Montenegro is to be told in the next post.