Today’s port was Dubrovnik, Croatia. Barb had planned a private tour with a gentleman who was born in Croatia (when it was part of Yugoslavia), emigrated with his parents to New York in the late 1940s, and spent a good part of his life in America. Ivan’s now back in Dubrovnik doing tours for Americans, and he did a wonderful job.
We came into port and dropped anchor at about Noon local time, after which time we were able to grab a tender to the old town of Dubrovnik. Ivan was waiting for us, and we started with a walking tour of the old city. There are Roman Catholic, Franciscan, Eastern (Serbian) and Greek Orthodox, Benedictine, and Jesuit churches in the old town, and we visited several of them.
Before our tour, Ivan provided a history of the region, sprinkled with a good New Yorker’s sense of humor. Once we were done, we hit the road with our driver in a nice Mercedes to see the area.
We had an opportunity to see the new cable-stayed bridge that carries the highway to the north — it was apparently built by two European engineering firms over a four year period. Neither of the companies had previous experience in bridge building, so both went bankrupt within years of completion of the project.
At a stop to get a bottle of water, we had a small shot of what can best be described as homebrew Croatian Jagermeister. Yum! That steadied our nerves for the next part of the drive, which took us high on a ridge overlooking Dubrovnik and environs — we were only several hundred meters away from Montenegro at one point. The drive then continued into a large valley that used to be called the “Breadbasket of the Republic of Debrovnik”, but is mostly fallow land nowadays. Some farmers are turning to the cultivation of table and wine grapes, so there were plenty of beautiful grapes that were being harvested.
Our next stop was at a beautiful old mill that has been renovated. It was one of many mills set up along a small river to harness the power for milling flour and meal from grain and corn. On a dare from a fellow visitor, Steve took his shoes off and dangled them in the water, which was amazingly cold — 45°F. That was refreshing considering the heat of the day.
We had a drink and small snack, then continued on the road to Cavtat, a stunningly beautiful small port that is frequented by yachts from around the world. It was founded in the 6th Century B.C., and the well-protected port is a good reason why the ancients chose this location.
There’s a monastery here that we visited with a small church — Our Lady of the Snow — attached. The monastery is actually open for lodging.
After that point, we drove back to Dubrovnik and parted ways with both Ivan and our driver. We walked again through the old city, this time at sunset. There were a number of open-air restaurants, so we grabbed some chairs at one and had a plate of local cheeses (yum!) and olives. After a drink or two, we left for the tender and headed back to Marina for a “real dinner”.
Both of us loved Dubrovnik and would definitely come back some day to stay for a few days. It’s a gorgeous location, the people are friendly, and the history is still being made.