Let me back track. I didn't know very much about Croatia other than the little bit we were taught in school about the civil war and break down of Yugoslavia. I was in high school then (yes, I'm that old) and I remember pictures of bloodied people on the news in places I had never heard of. Bosnia. Montenegro. Croatia. They had all been lumped into one communist country. Yugoslavia. At the time I had no idea that Yugoslavia was actually a conglomeration of several smaller kingdoms. Some of which wanted out. Like Croatia. Croatia declared their independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991. The Yugoslav Army and various Serbian groups began attacking Croatia and the result was a four year war with allegations of ethnic cleansing and rape, and tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians dead. Considering what the country of Croatia had been through only 20 years earlier, they have done a remarkable job of picking themselves up and dusting themselves off. In fact, on the day that we were there, Croatia was holding their first elections for members of the European Union which they plan on joining in June of this year. Go Croatia!
So knowing that history of Dubrovnik, I was a little unsure of what to expect. I was dubious. But Dubrovnik blew away all my doubt and added to my infatuation with that side of the Adriatic Sea. Dubrovnik has been settled since 600 AD as a crucial stop for traders. When we first got off the boat, we were shocked at how clean it was. Immaculate. And after Italy, that is really saying something.
Dubrovnik is a city that is famous for its walls that are completely intact. They were started in the 1100's AD and were added to through the 1600's. They are thick and high and have protected the city from many attacks, old and new.
Croatia uses its own currency called the Kuna or HRK. We took out a little for our walk of the walls and some ice cream.
Walking the old city wall in Dubrovnik is the thing to do here. The old city is pretty small and doesn't offer tons to do.
The walls encircle the city and run uninterrupted for just under two kilometers (1.2 miles). There are many stairs and twists and turns in the walls and aren't really suited for wheelchairs or strollers. Here is our first view of Dubrovnik from up high.
When I told some people back home we were stopping in Croatia they asked us one thing. Why? Okay, two things. Why and where is it? It would seem people forget that Croatia is a beautiful Mediterranean country with a temperate climate similar to Northern Italy. This is Dubrovnik outside the walls.
It isn't very often we get to go to a place where evidence of war and destruction are still so, evident, I guess. Dubrovnik was attacked by Serbians in what is called the Siege of Dubrovnik in October of 1991 during the War for Croatian Independence. Read more about it here. The city suffered major damage due to shelling. But the citizens of Dubrovnik loved their city and many of them fought against the opposing soldiers. The walls of Dubrovnik held and city was not taken.
The old bell and clock tower that rang on the hour and the half.
Dubrovnik's walls were complete with canons and towers that looked pretty intimidating. Here's why. This is a list of the major attacks that Dubrovnik has endured.
846-847 AD attacked by Saracens.
948 AD attacked by Venetians.
1185 AD attacked by a Serbian prince.
1205 AD attacked by Venetians. Again.
1451 AD attacked by a Bosnian prince.
1806 AD attacked by Russia.
1814 AD attacked by Austria.
1991-1992 AD attacked by Yugoslavia.
Poor Dubrovnik. If I had everybody messing with me like that, I'd build some big walls and put on some big guns too.
Croatians speak a Croatian dialect which is a Shtokavian language, or Serbo-Croatian. Due to our short time in Croatia, we didn't bother to learn any. I know. Lazy American. It was okay, though. Everybody in Dubrovnik spoke passable English.
One of the tower lookouts on the walls.
As we walked the walls, we got opportunities to peek down into private courtyards. Sometimes there would be old men sipping coffee and chatting. Or sometimes an old woman weeding around her lemon trees.
The harbor of Dubrovnik. I don't think I've ever seen a harbor where so many of the boats weren't in the water. Maybe they take turns. "You get the water this week. I get it next week."
If you look really, really hard, you can see Italy way off in the distance.
Just kidding. But it is out there!
Traveling wears me out.
Dubrovnik is nestled at the very southern tip of Croatia. There are mountains that line the east side of the city. Right over the mountains lies the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Those people up there at the top could probably throw a rock into Bosnia-Herzegovina. But they probably shouldn't. You have no idea what it could start. The cross on this hill looking over the city stands as a memorial to all the people who gave their lives in defense of their beloved Dubrovnik.
Here is the "main street" of Dubrovnik. No cars are allowed in the old city so it is nice for walking. Before we got here, we had friends tell us how cheap Croatia was. That they practically were giving stuff away. So we took out 100 Kuna, or about $20.00 for our day. We were waaaaay too short. It was around 100 Kuna, per person, just to walk the wall. Back to the ATM. We asked a local shop keeper about the prices and he told us Dubrovnik is very expensive compared to the rest of Croatia due to it being a cruise stop. Okay. So if you want Croatia On The Cheap, go outside Dubrovnik.
On our next trip to Croatia we plan to drive so that we can get out and really experience the Balkans.
And that wraps up our latest bit of travel. It was long and it was great. Thanks for reading about it and sharing it with us! Now I can write about our crazy life in Germany again.
Zbogom is Croatian for good bye and is pronounced just how it looks. Zbogom.
*wants to see more of Croatia and Slovenia. And go to places that cost less Kuna.