Mediterranean Cruise Part 1: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Fat drops of rain poured down on us from the grey Venetian sky as the Captain and I stood on the platform waiting for a water taxi to pick us up. It was our last afternoon in Venice before our jaunt along the Mediterranean Sea.
It didn’t take long for the water taxi to transfer us to our destination and before we knew it my husband and I were onboard the colossal cruise ship, Splendour of the Seas. After checking in and going through some emergency procedures we found ourselves hanging out in the private balcony of our stateroom. As the ship began to depart the Captain and I watched the Venetian skyline grow smaller as we drifted further into the mighty Adriatic Sea.
We would arrive in Dubrovnik, Croatia in the morning.
May 16, 2010
I didn’t know much about Croatia or the Dalmatian Coast. The first time I heard of Dubrovnik was in the early 1990s when I was just a little girl. My parents watched the news often and sometimes I would watch with them. I saw footage on the news of Dubrovnik being attacked by the Serbs, Yugoslav Army, and the Montenegrins but being so young I didn’t really understand why.
Long a pearl perched on the blue crown of the Adriatic’s eastern depths, Dubrovnik epitomizes a region rich in culture and trade. Although the Venetian lion of Saint Mark flew over its towering walls for much of the past millenia, the people of the Dalmatian Coast have always had their own identity. Friendly and welcoming to strangers, the people of Dubrovnik proved more than willing to share their rich history and culture with travelers. Seeing the iconic walls and red roofs of the old city for the first time, I could’t wait to get down amongst them and see for myself.
Grey clouds hovered above us as we exited the cruise ship and made our way onto the bus that would transport us to the Old Town. Just before leaving the terminal, a border patrol agent got on the bus to check passports, so if you ever find yourself on a cruise to Dubrovnik make sure you have it in hand.
Fifteen minutes later the Captain and I were in front of Pile Gate, the entrance into Old Town. The gate was built in 1537 to not only protect the city from invaders but to also monitor trade. We entered the ancient walled town with centuries-old monasteries; Renaissance churches; fountains, and synagogues, uncertain as to what to view first we continued to walk the narrow cobblestone streets of Stradun (main street).
Dubrovnik is a great city for walking – the winding streets are lined with al fresco cafes, small souvenir shops, and restaurants. We stopped frequently to take pictures of the terra cotta roofed buildings that surrounded us and visited shops looking for treasures to bring back home. My husband even bought me a beautiful garnet pendant!
It began to rain lightly as we walked to the Museum of the Franciscan Monastery. The monastery was constructed in the 1300s but was completely destroyed by an earthquake in the 1600s. There are many exhibits to see in the museum such as religious art and artifacts, 14th century pharmacy equipment, and a library. Not to be missed is the oldest running pharmacy in Europe which is situated inside the monastery!
The Captain and I were both hungry after stopping by the museum so we returned to the Stradun to look for a place to eat. By this time the rain started to pour heavily causing us to promptly settle at an outdoor cafe that had umbrellaed tables. Shielded from the rain we ordered pizza and watched the world go by. Curious to know more about the weather we asked the waitress if heavy rainfall was common in Dubrovnik – she told us that it was not. It had been raining sporadically since we got into the city, but it never seemed to intensify as it did during our lunch break.
Our tarriance at Dubrovnik was only for a few hours, but we were able to see most of the landmarks in the Old City such as the Dominican Monastery, the cathedral, both Onofrio’s fountains, and the Minceta and Bokar Fortress. My husband and I even had time to walk around the stone walls that encircle the city where we got to admire the magnificent view of the red roof tops and the sparkling blue Adriatic Sea.
Before long we were back on the ship relaxing in our room. The Captain and I had an excellent time in Dubrovnik and were pleased with our experience. I’m glad I got to see it in a new light – there’s definitely more to Dubrovnik than being a city that was damaged by the Croatian War in the early 1990s.