Sunday, September 09, 2007

O, Dubrovnik. The pearl of the Adriatic, the gem of the bar trip. I don't know if I can do it justice, but I'll give it a shot.

Dubrovnik is cool for several reasons. Most notably, it's a very well-preserved 16th-century walled city unlike any other. This means you can get up on the walls of the city and walk the mile and a half length of them in 90 minutes, with amazing views of the city and the sea. It also means you can get lost in the alleys and avenues of the town.

Additionally, there's a nice peninsula just north of the walled city where most people (including us) stay, with terrific restaurants and a couple of decent beaches. Unlike the tiny room in Split, we had two full bedrooms with a double and two twins respectively, a big kitchen, a big living room, air-conditioning, and a patio where you could reach up overhead and pluck grapes from the overhanging vines.

Dubrovnik is also one of the jumping off points for many of Croatia's popular island destinations. We didn't go to any of the big ones but did do a half-day cruise to the 3 Elephiti Islands just off the coast. The first two were kinda lame 40-minute stops, and we were afraid that the highlight was going to be watching the boat crew member throw our lunch fish remains to seagulls off the back of the boat. But then we got to the third island of Lopud, which was supposed to be the good one, and where we had 2.5 hours.

When you approach Lopud, you quickly fear that you have been taken by inaccurate brochures, because instead of a beautiful sandy beach you simply get an ok mostly concrete beach near the port. But then you follow the signs to the sandy beach--literally up a small mountain and back down again--and you come to an incredible natural cove with incredibly blue water and an impeccable sandy beach. Lopud did not disappoint.

All of this, plus a very cool outdoor Internet park, was very cool, but I've left the singular highlight of Dubrovnik for last. A friend had told me about a hole in the city wall where you could walk halfway down a hill to a beer and ice cream vendor, and then go to the bottom of the hill and jump into the sea. Well, in the four years since he'd been there the vendor was replaced by a full service bar, but the bar seating still only went part of the way down.

As we descended the stairs, we found that we were the only people who had ventured past the bar area at that time. In that cool early evening about an hour before sunset, the four of us just sat quietly for a while, talking a little, two of us drinking beers, and all of us staring for a long time into the nearby sea.

Eventually I just said, "it was really hard to get here, and it makes it all the more worthwhile." At first I meant finding the little nook and getting down there, but when someone asked me what I meant, I realized I'd said so much more. It's hard to get to that spot, but it's also hard to get to Dubrovnik--there's no train service, bus service is just ok, and there are few flights. But it was also hard to get through law school. And to get to law school. Etc. etc. etc. Without getting too melodramatic, you could simply look to the earliest 2002 and 2003 sections of this blog's archives to find out just how hard it was to get there.

And that's a big part of why Dubrovnik was my favorite stop, and sitting on those rocks nursing an Ozujsko was one of my three favorite moments of the trip.

The other two will be covered later...

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