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A Day in Dubrovnik

Written on: Thursday June 25th, 2009

The knuckles of my forefingers rubbed deep into my still closed eyes, wiping away the remnants of a peaceful night's sleep.  Opening them to the light of day, my eyes once again feasted on the enormous room in which I had slept for the last four nights.  Man, I still cannot believe how lucky I was to get this room.  Jumping out of bed I walked over to the balcony, stepping out to oversee the bustle of tourists down below, noisily navigating the maze of streets that made up Old Town in Dubrovnik.

Exiting my room en route for the shower I passed by Katarina, the elderly yet fiery Bosnian owner of the room I was currently calling home.

"Good morning to you too!  Yes, I slept wonderfully.  Sure, I'll take the Turkish coffee and bread in my room when I get out of the shower...just leave it when you have a chance.  Thanks!"

With a clean body and a full belly I walked down the steps to the cobblestone streets.  Now it was time for me to be a tourist.  I systematically wandered the streets, begining at the entry gate to Old Town, past numerous churches, dozens of restaurants and an impressive collection of tourist shops, eventually making way way to the sea on the other side of town.  This certainly is a beautiful city...too bad it is overrun with tourists!  Heading up the steep steps to the first tier above the main streets, I spied the most inexpensive internet cafe in town.  Catching up on electronic responsibilities for more than an hour, I was soon ready to grab a bite.  Well, I'm just across the street from the Italian joint.  I suppose I could eat there again.  The ceasar salad with grilled prawns was excellent, providing me with enough energy to take on loftier challenges in the afternoon.

Dubrovnik was set at sea level and had a small but beautiful mountain range bordering its northeastern side.  Atop the nearest mountain was a giant cross that  seemed as fine a target as any to set as a destination.  And there was supposedly a cache nearby, adding another incentive to the hike I was about to begin.  Making my way up the steep alleyways, the unavoidable tourist presence in Old Town suddenly disappeared.  Now it was only local housing and the beautiful gardens that seemingly every resident kept.  The sun was hot, already causing my forehead to glisten as I hiked ever higher through the labyrinth of alleys.  Soon I made it to the edge of the forest at the base of the mountain and, fortunately, found the path that I had read about on the geocaching site.  An inescapable series of 100m long switchbacks climbed the mountainside all the way to the summit, looking to me like a giant crack in a granite egg.  I slowly but steadily worked my way from one to the other, motivated significantly by the inspriational voice of Jason Mraz: "If the plane goes down...damn.  I remember where the love was found."  But even more motivational was looking back down at the town every second switchback.  OMG! This is magnificent!!  Eventually I made it to the summit and discovered a small museum displaying information about the Yugoslavian war and specifically how it affected this region.  A short walk over to the cross yielded even more fantabulous views of the city below and the many islands in the distance.  OK, now how am I going to find this cache without my GPS?  I started a systematic search of likely hiding spots before hitting paydirt after only three mintues of searching.  Sweet!  With travel bugs traded I set off back down the mountain toward town.  The light shower that rained down upon me was heaven sent as it cooled my entire body.

A short walk through one of the many city parks occupied the next hour of the afternoon and provided numerous vantage points for spectacular photographs of the Spanish tiled roofs donned by nearly every house in the city.  Heading back to Old Town I decided that today was the day for a circumnavigation of the fort wall that surrounded Old Town.  Paying the hefty price of fifty Kuna for the right to walk the wall, I climbed the steps on the western wall to the top.  Stopping often to take photographs of the city below, I slowly navigated the structure counter-clockwise, giving me yet another perspective of Dubrovnik. 

Between the sun and the exertion throughout the afternoon, it was once again time to grab a shower.

"Hello again Katarina.  No, I don't need any more tequila.  OK, I'll have one drink of the plum wine with you before I go to dinner."

Having by now become quite familiar with the layout of the town, I quickly made my way to my favorite dining spot.

 'Hi!  It's you again!'

"Yep, it's me again.  How are you Eva?"

 'Wonderful. What seafood will it be tonight?'

"How about the mixed grill?  However, I'm hoping to see a concert that begins in 35 minutes.  Can you have me on my way in time?"

 'Of course.  And I'll bring you a glass of wine while you wait.'

The dinner was exquisite: grilled, whole sea bass, prawns, mussels and squid...all my favorites.  And I made it out of the street side table to the concert hall with three minutes to spare!  For the next hour I was priveldged to digest my food and lose my mind to the classical sounds of violin, piano and accoustic guitar.  What a fabulous way to relax.  I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed classical music.

With a post-concert glow radiating from my smiling face, I wandered a few blocks out of my way to see if another friend was around.

**insert manly handshake and half hug here**

 'Hey Shawn...how are you today?'

"Doin' great Vlad.  How are you feeling today?"

 'Not so good...I didn't make it home until 8:00am!'

"Holy shit!  I lost you at the club around 3:30, and just chatted with the Irish folks 'til 4:00.  When I didn't see you any more I figured you went home."

 'No...I saw that you were in good hands so I left the club and went to a friend's house.   Can I get you a beer?'

"Sure.  Cheers."

Vlad was the manager of Karaka, one of the five Irish bars scattered throughout Old Town.  Consequently, he knew a lot of people in town and was a good source of local knowledge.

   'Did you hear what happened?!?  Michael Jackson just died!!!'

"No way!"

 'Are you serious?  When? How?'

   'I don't know.  Turn on the TV'

For the next couple hours we watched the limited news we could get regarding the death of a legend.  I imagined that it would be one of those strange events that you'd always remember throughout your life.  Sort of a "where were you when MJ died?" kind of thing.  With the shock worn off we toasted one final Weiss before I bade farewell to the crew of the Karaka.

Returning to my room I lit a cigar on the balcony and opened my novel, reading a few pages in between puffs on the Cubano.  The streets were so quiet at this hour...no tourists, no workers, and no noise aside from the occassional cry of a hungry feline searching for food.  Finishing both the cigar and the book, I was ready to hit the rack.  After a quick brush of the teeth I dived into bed, pulling the pillow over my head before drifting into another peacful slumber.