(This is the fourth post of our Croatia-Budapest Trip, June-July 2014.)
Thursday, June 19
We venture out on the square to spot this Mr. Gundelic, atop his pedestal, in the middle of the morning market where vendors are selling tchotchkes and other knickknacks.
Dubrovnik can be considered a two-day town: do the wall, have dinner, buy some souvenirs, head out. We’re on Day Two-and-a-Half and decide to walk on the other side of this bowl-shaped town, and try for a few of the places mentioned in our guidebook.
First stop is The Church of St. Blaise, the man who saved the town by revealing an imminent attack, even though he’d been dead for years (some say he was an apparition who warned the town fathers). He’s everywhere. The noon mass was about to start, so we were quickly in and out.
Detail, St. Blaise’s Church (above and below)
We were told by one shopkeeper yesterday that there were no cruise ships scheduled to be in town today (and so she was opening later). But there seemed to be a lot of local kids–maybe their parents let them out when the tourists aren’t invading. And soccer — I mean, futbol — is on everyone’s mind.
Still the red-checked shirts are everywhere, for Croatia advances to the next round with their win last night. This is the typical shop with everything open.
And this is the shop front, closed. In the early days, the door would be a half-door, closed, and the shop keeper would bring you what you needed through the open window and the open half-door.
From the Placa, or Stradum, we walked up to the mountain-side of town, where the streets are so narrow that this tree had to work to get to the sunlight. Everything is folded up this morning after last night’s thunderstorm.
And folded up, this umbrella looks positively feminine.
Dead end with an outdoor oven. I’d like one of these at my house.
I spot some laundry high up on a line: a red-checkered shirt. We stopped and talked to one young man (in front of a restaurant) who didn’t get home until 8:30 this morning. Even though he started the conversation trying to get us to sit down and have lunch, I thought, well, while you’re yakking up the tourists, I can talk to you too. I mentioned Croatia’s decisive 4-0 win last night, and he said “No, no. 3-0. One didn’t count.”
We walk a little further and another young man tells us he got in just before the big thunderstorm, “by two minutes at most.” He told us about a thunderstorm that winter that hit the church tower and knocked out “all the charge machines in the restaurants and all the music and the speakers, too,” two components of tourist life here. Dave and I decide that there are many very tired young men in Dubrovnik this morning. (And old American tourist couples, too.) This was confirmed later on when we decided to eat pizza at our pizza place (not shown above, but isn’t that a great name for a pizza joint?). The young man serving us, who had been there the night before, brought us new rolled-up utensils at the end of the meal. “Oh, whoops!” he said, then exchanged them for what we wanted: the check.
First stop after walking was the Franciscan Church, where I snapped this perfectly lit window.
Next was the Franciscan Monastery and Pharmacy, just beside the church.
It’s only five bucks to get in, and good thing, as there’s not much to see. So we take our time with the cloisters.
The capitals of each column are different.
This sign says “Europe never sleeps when World Cup is being played.”
No pictures in the pharmacy, so we head out, catching a perfect light on the stone.
I really have to make a red-and-white quilt, I think.
We had another salad at the pizza place by our sobe: Pizzeria Castro. I can recommend it heartily. We had originally thought to eat at a “typical” Dubrovkan place, but when we walked over there, having had a late breakfast of chocolate croissants, peach juice, and fruit, we were really too full to hunker down over a plate of grilled meats, although it got great reviews. After our salads, we were still ready to walk, but fat, heavy drips of rain began falling, so we climbed back up the three flights of stairs to our room, and took a break. It’s rained nearly every day here, but we’ve been able to dodge it with judicious timing.
After the rain, we decide to walk around the thick walls that border the harbor, just to see what’s on the other side.
A goofy water vehicle to show you the sights, which we both thought reminded us of Disneyland.
On the backside, you can see the little island off the Dubrovnik coast, and just miles and miles of the Adriatic Sea, teenagers smoking, old men swimming, and tourists, like us.
Oh, and St. Blaise, high up on a city wall.
We walked over to Dubravka, where we’d made dinner reservations, and they again put us at a table on the patio, overlooking the sea. Returning visitors can use the 10% off coupon that they included with the meal last night, which makes particular tourists very happy.
Many quotes on the Jana water bottles are from Paul Coehlo’s book The Alchemist, although this one may be from somewhere else. One of the better blurbs, I think.
I had Dave’s pasta with mushrooms and ham from last night, but he had “American Chicken.” I’ll bet you didn’t know we adorned our chicken breasts with bacon, did you?
We ended our lovely meal with Orange Cake, which was like last night’s cake of layered chocolate, cream and nuts, but orange in all the right places, recommended by our waiter (“It’s my favorite cake”). During dinner it began to rain, but Dave was able to scoot his chair in under the edge of the umbrella; the rain chased off the chain smokers behind us, as they had no umbrella (they were just having a drink–no dinner–and really, they had finished).
Dave’s panoramic shot from the table. We learned how to use that feature of our iPhones while we were in Croatia and had a great time taking a variety of pano-shots. We head back into town, and we stop at a shop to buy the city’s souvenir: a silver “button,” made of scrolled filigree silver wire. The man explained that they began as buttons on soldiers’ uniforms, but have now become known as the traditional souvenir. His father made them all, he said, and unlike the tablecloth sellers, I was inclined to believe him.
We chose the butoni we wanted, then he weighed it and sold it to us by weight. No credit cards, he said, so we paid cash. Mine was about the size of a silver charm on a charm bracelet, but there were many others, from tinier to much larger. Of course, now I wish I’d purchased another for a necklace, but that’s tourist hindsight talking. (The earrings above are an illustration from the web.) Often we are told they don’t accept credit cards, and often, like now, we don’t receive a recipt.
A very light rain is falling, and I notice the votive candles on the ledge. We wonder if it’s because we are now across from the Serbian church. But no, they are everywhere.
We walk down towards our square, and see a procession, led by children of the church dressed in white, followed by priests carrying a canopy, shielding people as they walk. Behind them are church-goers, and as they walk, they are singing. I can’t seem to get the video to embed, so click *here* to hear their haunting singing.
The singing continued inside the church, and I usually never do this, but I was so caught up by the music I took a quick, hopefully discreet, video. Click *here* to watch and listen. Now you can see the Titian-attributed painting at the front of the church all lit up, the church resplendent with harmonies and light, changed from the darkened cavern of the day before. A magical moment in Croatia, as the locals celebrated the Corpus Christi holiday.
We make our way back to our sobe, through squares filled with World Cup fans watching large plasma TVs in restaurants and bars. We again shut the windows and turn on the air conditioning, hoping for sleep.
In the morning, we hit the Konsum grocery store not only for our breakfast, but also for things for a little picnic along the road to Split, our next destination.
We pack up and leave, but I can’t quit feeling like we’ve left something. We go over the room again, looking everywhere, but don’t see anything, so head down.
We pass the keyhole in the wall (usually covered up by the textiles seller) and our favorite half-circle steps.
As it our habit as tourists in a foreign land without 4G wifi, we took a snapshot of a map and kept it on our phone, making our way to the Hertz rental car company, just outside the main city.
Through the first Ploce Gate. . .
. . . and the archway where — who else? — St. Blaise guards the entrance and exit. It’s a busy street. We get our car, and are off up the coast, to Split.
Next up: Split is Splitsville