Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dreamy Dubrovnik

After I returned from Lopud and watched the sun set over the Adriatic, I was so tired that I nixed my original plans of seeing Dubrovnik at night and just fell into bed -but I made up for it in the morning! Knowing that I only had half a day in the city, I got up bright and early at 6.30, put on my swimsuit and made my way closer to the city centre. I found a beach/swimming-appropriate bay that was separated from the old town by a little piece of land with a castle on top, and slipped into the surprisingly warm water while it was just getting light. Swimming out towards the open water, I left the bay behind and passed the castle to have a free view of the walled-in old town. While I was swimming, I noticed that some of the surrounding hills were already sun kissed, and I realized the sun had to rise any minute! So I tread water for some minutes, feeling like the only person on earth, swimming in the brilliantly clear Adriatic sea, until I saw the sun peak over the mountains and illuminate Dubrovnik's old town. As the first rays of sun fell onto the water, it seemed like the liquid silver I swam in was being transformed into liquid gold. What an experience!
I returned to my hostel for breakfast and was back en route to discover the city by 9.30. The first thing I did, and most recommendable experience in my opinion, is to climb and walk the city walls from which you have the greatest view of both the city and the ocean. Fun (actually quite sad) fact: the last time the medieval walls were used was actually in 1991/1992, when the city was besieged by the Serb-led remnants of the Yugoslav army. Apparently they did their duty, since the city held up and had to deal with only minor damages, though you can still see where new roof shingles replaced the old ones when roofs were destroyed by bombings.
Once I descended into the city centre, I remembered my previous impression of Dubrovnik - beautiful, but so overcrowded and touristy that it's hard to enjoy for extended amounts of time. So I split my time between the main sights, a harbor lunch break and an exploration of the lesser-frequented side streets, already 6 years ago my favorite part of the city. From this angle, Dubrovnik is a little like Venice- too popular for its own good!
But I would soon get a hefty antidote to tourist-paranoia, since in the afternoon I boarded a bus towards Korcula, a really laid back island just 3 bus- hours north. The ride was AC-d, comfy, and sooo beautiful - the road snaked along the coastline (and I mean snaked - thank goodness I am not prone to travel sickness), then through pine-covered mountains and more flat areas with vineyards, and paused shortly in a cute village to wait for the ferry (solution to the quizz question how to get on to an island by bus). I ended the day with a short walk around the old town, but then flopped into bed again - vacations are exhausting!

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