Friends,

This is my last day here and I figured I would amuse you with more info on Dubrovnik Croatia. Yesterday I was very grateful I brought snorkel gear and a wetsuit because the water, though cold, is a beautiful hue of blue and full of little fish that swim around the giant rocks with sea urchins lining the bottom. Although the water is still cold it did not bother me much once I drank some wine.

 

The ride from the airport south of Dubrovnik to the Old Town area is an amazing ride down the side of mountains that separate Croatia from Bosnia. The coast is dry and the views from the two- lane road leading into Dubrovnik are spectacular. Bernard Shaw said Dubrovnik is the jewel of the Adriatic and he is right. The old town is surrounded by a 75 foot high wall that protected the city 500 years ago when Dubrovnik was a sea power and a trading city state.

 

These days it is packed with so many tourists you would swear you are in Disney world the day it opened. The old city dates from 1400 or earlier and some of the stuff is truly impressive including books from the year 1200, a pharmacy from the year 1370, a multitude of churches and the oldest Sephardic Synagogue the world. The streets are paved with smooth marble and are worn from a thousand years of people walking over the stones. Despite the crush of tourists Dubrovnik is a must see place.

 

And the locals are nice. That said, make no mistake about it, the crush of tourism in Dubrovnik is extreme. Thank god, I have a hotel two miles away in Lapad, a quiet residential area near water and easily reached by bus which runs every 15 minutes.

 

Last night I was quaffing the local beer called Favorit at a pizzaria in the old city when two French couples started asking me questions about the French president and what I thought about him having a child. We ended up going to a wine bar where the Australian proprietor kept us laughing the whole night. They smoke cigarettes like fiends but these French were super nice. I was supposed to see them today but they got something crossed and did not make it to our meeting place.

 

Early today I met a guy with a spear gun and snorkel gear ( a local) who swims around the sea near the giant walls around the old town hunting fish. He said it was easy to swim. Maybe for him it was....for me it was a life threatening experience!!!!!

While trying to find a way to access the sea from inside the old city  and I found literally a  hole in the wall that led to a small bar (the bar is called Buza which means hole in Croatian). The bar was halfway down the outside of the wall and overlooks the crashing sea and sits about 150 feet above the sea outside the city wall. I drank in the bar and wrote in my journal while I worked up the nerve to walk the rest of the way down the steep path and jump into the sea....Jesus where was the guy with the spear gun when i needed him? It was easy to get in the water but hell to get out. I scraped my arm up on the rocks crawling out after my swim. And to add insult to injury , a pack of Swiss tourists gawked at me from the rocky pathway like a beached whale. They were not helpful either. One of them actually ended up pushing my fins back into the water in their eagerness to take pictures of someone crazy enough get in the cold water. I left a little blood in Dubrovnik and my arm is torn up from trying to get out. The water along the wall kept crashing against the rocks and I only snorkeled for 30 minutes.

 

Back to the packed streets of old town i made my way to the bus and fought for a seat. Although they are nice if you ask them for help, the Croatians are terrible at cutting in line and literally pushing you out of the way when they are trying to get someplace. This is even true boarding planes where busses drop you off on the tarmac and it is every man for himself to scramble up the gangway to find a seat on the plane. The busses are much worse. I am on vacation so for once in my life I was totally zen and let everyone jump in line ahead of me.......now I going to look for a meal near my hotel and pack for the 5 hour bus ride to split, up the coast tomorrow. From split I am off to the island of Brac or Hvar to take in the roman-greek ruins and some more beaches sans the sea urchins.....

ralph