Friday, Sept. 25, 2015: Surprisingly, this morning we woke up to abundant sunshine. We hopped on a city bus by our hotel, and walked by huge piles of massed sleet from the massive storm last night.
Dubrovnik has a very good, clean and easy bus system. Our hotel is on the far north of the city of Dubrovnik, but the old town, which is on the south side of town, is only about 20 minutes away by bus. Outside the city walls, we met our local guide and entered the old city.
Just inside the walls, there was a map showing not only the lay out of the old city, but also another map depicting where all the mortar strikes took place during the shelling and siege of Dubrovnik in 1991. Basically, almost all the roofs in the old city were destroyed and several historical buildings took direct hits. Fortunately, with the help of many countries, Croatia has done a fabulous job of rebuilding the old city! Today, however, you get a sense of how complete the destruction was by seeing how many of the roofs are not made of red tiles, while the old historical tiles were light tan. Some building still remain roofless and overgrown with weeds, but there are not many of those, unlike in many other parts of thecountry.
Our first stop in the old town was at the Franciscan Monastery, which was established in the 13th century. The Franciscan monks then opened a pharmacy within the monastery, which has been in continuous operation since the mid 14th century. The monastery had a pretty interior cloister garden and the halls of the cloister were painted with frescoes depicting the life of St. Francis.
The predominant type of stone in Croatia is limestone, and the streets and walkways are all made of polished limestone, which can make for some pretty slippery walking, particularly after rains like we had last night! Most of the buildings are also constructed of limestone blocks so the architecture is very grand.
Our next stop was at the Rector’s Palace, which is somewhat like the Doge’s Palace in Venice. Even the architecture is similar (although not quite so ornate), which is not surprising, since Croatia and Venice were long time trading partners. The interesting thing about the Rectors, who were sort of like the mayors of Dubrovnik, was that each of them was elected for a period of one month only in order to cut down on corruption. The Palace is now a museum with the furnishings from the renaissance period.
Finally, we walked up on the walls of the city to walk around the perimeter of the city. As you can see from the photos, the views were breathtaking!
Following our hike, we rewarded ourselves with lunch on one of the many plazas in the city, at a restaurant called Komenice, where we had some of the best mussels (locally grown) that I’ve ever had. The preparation called buzzara which is very similar to the French steamed preparation in wine, herbs and butter. Yum!
Kathy and I did some shopping, and then we headed back to the hotel for a little pool time, before we headed back to the city for the evening. Our planned activities include a cable car ride up to the summit above the old time. Our tour leader, JD, had timed it perfectly so we caught the sunset just as we were going up in the car. It was a fabulous photo opportunity!
After dinner in town, we returned to the hotel.
Tomorrow we drive to Montenegro, so stay turned!