The wheels on the bus go round and round a lot to get from Split to Debrovnik. We had to cross a small sliver of Bosnia, (which was reluctantly given to the Bosnians so that they had access to the coast) to get across to Dubrovnik. This meant borders and delays and stops and then we were rounding the cliffs to the sparkling white fortresses of Dubrovnik. It is a breathtaking city as we quickly saw from our Jimi Hendrix themed apartment. The contrasts of white stone and deep blue of the sea with the dark green foliage make it a constant spectacle. Although not hot, it was warm most days and crystal clear and sunny.
Starting our mornings with borek breakfasts on the balcony our first mission was to head to the iconic old city which was a short walk down the many narrow staircases and alleyways from our apartment. Over the course of our stay our calf muscles got quite the work out. The city, although undeniably stunning had succumb to the hordes more than most places we had been and consisted mainly of tourist restaurants and the same souvenir shops over and over again. Like a Disney castle at a theme park.
Luckily it was at the lower season of hordes, but it was sad to see such an amazing place losing its soul to tourism. Mostly thanks to its ties to Game of Thrones, whose many GOT tours plagued the city. However there is still a lot to explore in this gorgeous city, with its many small back alleys and stairs.
After exhausting ourselves in exploration we found a bar which was dug into the cliff side outside the city walls and watched the darkness envelope the sea.
A visit to an iconic tourist destination would not be complete without a visit to the museums. Following our well worn pattern we hit the art gallery which was located just outside of the old city. The permanent collection was terrible, tame and banal, but the building and views was amazing. Luckily for us there was a temporary exhibition of Bosnia and Herzegovina artists upstairs. The exhibition was scathing and political and amazing. A huge room filled with historical paintings from Bosnia and Herzegovina was just empty frames on the wall and the performance art of Gordana Galic was simple, eloquent and sometimes morbidly amusing.
And they had a tortoise eating poop in the garden.
Below Dubrovnik as it stands were many a ruin and so we went to a small museum which had relics from various excavated churches of the region. Although not in the headspace for religious history we did like the ancient patterns from stone carving which adorned the churches from the 9th century.
The main museum held an impressive collection of clothing, household objects, artifacts and memorabilia from the history of the region. We were particularly interested in the exhibition of ornate lock boxes and the old pharmacological vessels. Dubrovnik had one of the oldest pharmacies which is still in operation and the beautiful ceramic vessels once held strange herbs and elixirs.
From human history to natural history, we marveled at the exquisite taxidermy and strange sea creatures at the natural history museum before trying to imitate the creatures to more easily assimilate into their culture when we go diving later in the trip.
Climbing up and down the many stone steps we found some pretty cafes with stunning views and amazing restaurants. Dotahn took quite a shining to the herbal brandy called Travarica. Purchasing a few bottles from the local markets before we headed out to peruse the outer wall for more stunning views of stone and sea.
Looming over the ocean next to the old city was another fortress which kept snagging our attention from the view of our balcony. We struck out for the fortress one afternoon and hugged the coastline until we came upon a small area in the shadow of the fortress. A couple of people hauled fishing boats in from the sea as an old woman caught small fish with a hand line and fed them to jetty cats prowling around the stones. We saw a small dwelling built into the rock as we made our way up the hill, wondering to ourselves who would live in such a strange little house. Perhaps it was the cat lady of the sea.
The fortress was all curves and light and we spent some time admiring more stunning views and the stone of the old structure.
Too shy to ask the cat lady of the sea for some snacks we perched above her at a restaurant and enjoyed oysters and champagne. We gave a toast and a smile to the sea. It was time to move back away from the ocean to our last country for the Eastern European portion of our journey.
But not before succumbing to the Game.