Monday, January 6, 2014

Friday, November 22, 2013 – Dubrovnik, Croatia – Mostly Cloudy – 58F

Distance Venice to Dubrovnik: 320 Nautical Miles

Local Information.  Dubrovnik is located on the Adriatic Sea on the Dalmatian Coast.  It has a population of 42,600 and is notable for its Walled City and eclectic architecture.  It is also one of the locations used for the filming of “Game of Thrones”.

A cloudy day in Dubrovnik, Croatia…

We are both on the same tour today: “Highlights of Dubrovnik Riviera”.  My tour guide is the jovial and sometimes R rated, Ivana. There were jokes about Bill Clinton and smoking that may not be suitable for all audiences – the passengers didn’t laugh but they didn’t seem to mind.  On the internet, there is another guide named Ivana, that runs tours related to “Games of Thrones”; she looks like our guide so maybe they are one and the same person.

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Ellen ready to go on Tour

Our schedule today is to visit the old town section of Dubrovnik, then take a scenic ride along the Dalmatian Coast, have lunch at a restaurant in the countryside, check out the seaside resort town of Catva, then back to Dubrovnik.  Sounds like a plan.

Dubrovnik was very close to the cruise port and we were passing by the Medieval Walls in minutes.  As are most of the places we visit, the old town of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The walled city of Dubrovnik (our guide did not pronounce the “v” in the name – perhaps that is how the locals pronounce it).

Shots of the walls and fortifications are shown below.

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There are several gates into the walled city.  We entered through the Pile Gate.

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Pile Gate 

The Pile Gate leads straight into the Stradun or Placa, which is the main walkway in old Dubrovnik.  Just inside the gate, was a small museum.

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The Placa was still pretty busy despite the constant drizzle.  Because of the chilly and drizzly weather, most of the restaurant patrons were dining inside.

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The Placa – Main Pedestrian Walkway

The streets of Dubrovnik are narrow and it takes many stairs to access the apartments and stores off the main street.

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The Placa ends at Luza Square, the location of many of Dubrovnik’s famous landmarks.

The Clock Tower was built starting in 1444.  It has been restored several times and at one time the tower acquired a lean, which had to be repaired using donations.  The clock mechanism no longer  works but the bell is rung by the “green twins”, two bronze statues turned green by the salt water of the Adriatic Sea.  They are not the originals but replicas.

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Clock Tower

St. Blaise is the patron saint of Dubrovnik and the Church of St. Blaise is located in the square behind the Statue of Orlando (aka Roland) a legendary knight and symbol of the city.

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Church of St. Blaise and Statue of Orlando

The Gothic-Renaissance Sponza Palace was built between 1516-1522.

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Sponza Palace 

The Rector’s Palace (I toured the palace the last time I was here) has many of the same features as the Sponza Palace.

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Rector’s Palace

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The Assumption Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Dubrovnik, Croatia. It is the seat of the Diocese of Dubrovnik – rebuilt after earthquake of 1667.

The next stop is the Franciscan Monastery.  The monastery is a vast complex of buildings, gardens, and fountains. 

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Franciscan Monastery

Dubrovnik was a popular destination for Conversos from Spain and Portugal – there is little left of the Jewish Ghetto in Dubrovnik.  We were able to find a synagogue and a Judaica Shop (we bought some mezuzahs there).

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Jewish Ghetto, In front of the Synagogue, and Judaica Shop

We left the Old City via the Pele Gate and joined our group at the Bus Stop.  On our way out, more great views of the walls of the Medieval City.

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The rain was coming down heavier now so we waited inside the Tourist Center until our bus arrived.  We took advantage of our location to take another of our mirror shots (below).

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Through the Looking Glass

On our way to the lunch venue, the bus stopped so we could get a picture of the city of Dubrovnik.

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Even on a dreary day, the Adriatic Coast was scenic.

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The restaurant was situated in the countryside along side a pretty major river (the source of our lunch).  The river also powered a mill, whose purpose was unclear.

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Our Lunch Venue

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The Mill

Ellen and I managed to get a table for two – the meal consisted of homemade lentil soup that was so good that I asked for a second bowl, salad, bread, fish, potatoes, and wine.  I am not a big fan of whole fish but Ellen said it was delicious.  I mostly ate the other items.  A nice dessert followed the meal.  The owner also gave us the WiFi password so we could check on things back home.

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Just give me more soup

After lunch, we checked out the area around the restaurant – there was a river, a waterfall, and we could see the fish that we ate (I saw fins and scales).

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After Lunch Exploration of the Restaurant Grounds

Our final stop was the seaside town of Catva.  The weather was deteriorating quickly (raining) but we walked from the bus stop to the main street for about an hour of free time.  There aren’t many shops in the town – mostly bars and restaurants. 

About five minutes into our stay, we saw and heard our first lightning bolt and then we were in the middle of a thunderstorm and downpour.  At one point, the rain turned to decent sized hail stones and everyone took shelter under awnings and overhangs.  A few lightning strikes later and the town lost electricity.  I had to make a washroom stop in a bar in the dark.  Yikes.

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Hailing in Catva, Croatia

Many of the passengers wanted to head back to the ship and get out of the lightning, rain, and hail.  But, eventually, we stayed the full time at Catva.  I was personally happy to be on my way back to the pier and our warm and dry ship.

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Finally, Back at the Cruise Port

After dinner, we took in some of the performance by Ukrainian Violinist, Kateryna Sychova. 

Looking forward to a relaxing day at sea tomorrow.

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