Saturday, April 28, 2012

Walking the Walls in Dubrovnik, Croatia

After leaving Alexandria, we had two sea days. Here we are sailing below Crete...

Still over 900 miles to Venice…

And brrr….it has really cooled off.

We had our last formal night. Here is Jim with Lloyd, another bartender in the Casino Lounge. We took to meeting there most evenings before dinner. Raspberry martinis…mmmm!

Our dinner table…in the back on the left in black are Radovan, our "sous waiter," from Serbia; Rui, the head waiter in our section; and Ceracela, our fantastic waiter from Romania. Standing with them is Shirley, who was distinctive with a flower in her hair no matter where she was. At the table, left to right are Ed and Barb; Lois and Randy, from Florida; standing is Kay, who was rooming with Shirley. The four of them are friends in the same community and did the complete World Cruise; and on the right, me and Jim.

Then we passed by this island…

Off the coast of Albania…

Look how Croatia hugs the coastline...

Here we are arriving in Dubrovnik…

We could already see several cruise ships. It looked like it was going to be a busy day in port.

At its peak, Dubrovnik was a very successful competitor of Venice, and one of the most prosperous commercial powers in the world. For six centuries, Dubrovnik was an independent republic until it was overthrown by Napoleon in 1808. For most of the 19th century, it formed part of the Austrian empire, and then passed to the new state of Yugoslavia after World War I.

In 1991, the federal states of Yugoslavia broke apart in a brief but violent civil war, which resulted in full independence for Croatia. Because of its proximity to Bosnia and Serbia, Dubrovnik took a very severe pounding during a siege of 13 months, at one time going for 60 days without electricity or water.

The cruise terminal was very modern. You can see our ship in the background.

This policewoman got on board the shuttle bus that was taking us to town to check everyone’s passports. She very nicely but very firmly asked one of the crew members to get off the shuttle as they didn’t have the proper shore pass. No fooling around here!

I love it when I see signs for places I’ve heard Split!

We were meeting a guide at 12:00 for a two-hour walking tour, but decided to take the shuttle into town and walk around by ourselves before our tour. Dubrovnik was initially called Ragusa because it was founded on rocks.

Impressive walls surrounding the city…

This was above the gate leading into the old city. I thought his head looked a little funny…like it had fallen off and hadn’t been reattached properly.

Doesn’t he look fine in his traditional costume?

Yikes! Look at the steep stairs leading up to the wall. It was also getting really hot.

We meandered down this side alley in search of a cup of coffee. That was something that was definitely lacking on the ship…good coffee!

These beautiful flowers were on the table.

We enjoyed our coffee and watched the sights. This little boy was carrying heavy bags back from the market and was ringing the security bell to be let in. It made me laugh...doesn't he look exhausted...and exasperated!

The Franciscan Monastery was started in 1317 and has one of the finest manuscript libraries in Europe. It is now a primary school. It also has a 14th century pharmacy, which is considered the oldest working pharmacy in Europe. It has apothecary jars, medical books, healing recipes and works of gold and embroidery.

Would you look at that sky! We were blessed with fantastic weather on this cruise.

Dubrovnik and Ragusa…one and the same.

The main street, the Stradun, was originally a canal which divided the city into two sections. At the end of the street is the Rector’s Palace, which was the seat of government.

This guy with his colourful parrots walked by…

One of them loved this girl’s sunglasses!

And when the owner spread his arms, the parrot would as well. Yikes! Look at the claws…

The smell of oranges was fantastic!

Jim enjoying the smells and the sun...

We couldn’t find our guide and walked back and forth between the two tourist information centres. It was already 12:25 and we were beginning to think there wouldn’t be a tour. I went by the statue in the Pile Square...again...

And finally found her. I don’t know how we missed each other, but it wasn't like she was standing outside with a sign. We headed off to the old city and up on the wall to look down at the main street. Stefi pointed out many of the roofs which had been destroyed during 1991 conflict. All the brighter coloured roofs are new, while roofs like that of the monastery on the left were undamaged.

The steps going up to the wall in another section. Again here you can see the difference in colour between the old roofs and the new ones.

A view of the new part of the city outside the walls.

This fountain dates from the beginning of the 13th century and provided water for the citizens.

Dubrovnik had a major earthquake in 1667 and much of the city was destroyed. There was also a fire in 1713 which damaged additional buildings. At the top of the picture is the granary, which was built after the earthquake destroyed the previous one.

The Canavans and Schnarrs in Dubrovnik…

Part of the ruins from the earthquake can still be seen.

After the 1991 conflict, ruins of nine palaces were discovered when the city was being rebuilt.

A mix of old and new…

A sea of orange...

A view of the area...Dubrovnik is lovely.

St. Lawrence Fort was built in the 11th century to defend the city and the harbour.

As we walked around the city walls, you could look into people’s back gardens. These green patches were especially useful during the 1991 conflict when there was no food available except for what they could grow.

A canon from the 17th century used to defend the city…

Can you spot two cats??

It was a beautiful day in a beautiful city. You can see another cruise ship in the background.

Although there are hotels in the new city, apartment rentals in the old city are very popular.

These two pigeons were cooing away under the bells on the cathedral.

Very common to see laundry hanging in all sorts of places.

The three openings in the building in the background are part of a shipyard which flourished between the 13th and 16th century. Many of the galleons for the Spanish armada were built here.

Look at how crystal clear the water is.

The black straps under the second set of windows are brackets that extend through the wall and are connected on the inside by a heavy chain. This stabilizes the building during earthquakes as the chain absorbs the seismic waves.

These roof tiles have the shape of the top of a person’s thigh as that is how they were formed.

Stefi in the front with Barb coming along behind. It was blooming hot!

The marina from the other side of the wall.

Stefi had to leave and we continued our tour on our own. She gave us a lot of information in a short amount of time! 

Back in the square with no fewer crowds…with five cruise ships in the port that day, it was bedlam.

With time to spare before the last shuttle at 3:00 pm, we decided to stop for a beverage.

Ed trying a local beer…he made it his mission to taste test one everywhere.

We got on the shuttle and Barb realized they had forgotten their bag on the chair. Ed got off to find it at the same time as the waiter was trying to find him. The waiter is looking around, but Ed has already spotted him.

Back on the ship, we soon set sail for our next port of Koper.

We passed by this huge Holland America ship. For some reason, I always thought of them as the small ship cruise line. Not!

This yacht belongs to the Sultan of Oman and was brought here during the Arab Spring in late 2010.

This boat on the left is the Sultan's supply ship, which has a helicopter pad on the back. He also has two aircraft, one to fly ahead of his to find the smoothest airspace. Anything if you’re rich! No wonder the citizens are not happy.

We sat on the deck at the back of the ship as we sailed away…

And were soon joined by Ed’s third sister wife, Margaret. Barb and I were into the Strongbow ciders by now.

Ed and Jim talking over the day’s events…or something!

What can I say?

A great day in Dubrovnik!

We were continuing up the Adriatic Sea towards our next port of Koper, Slovenia...

That night the entertainment was the World Cruise Choir. This group of over 60 people practised every sea day under the direction of David Crathorne. He also played the piano in the Casino bar most evenings. They did a great job and the concert was very lively.

And now, one more port before the cruise ends in Venice...


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