(written by Nancy)
After a great breakfast of eggs on toast in our apartment we spent the morning wandering the walls of Dubrovnik’s old city. The old city is surrounded by ancient city walls built between the 13th and the 16th centuries. The walls are over 2km long and up to 25m high, with round and square towers, corner fortifications and a fortress.
The walk takes you up on the walls and around the entire city, giving you great views of the city and the sea from different vantage points. We went relatively early to avoid the heat and the crowds were not too big as it is not yet full tourist season. It was great fun to see the little alleyways of the old city from up high – there is a surprising amount of greenery in the old city, between pockets of gardens and folks who line the areas around their doors with container gardens. We also saw several sets of kayakers heading off into the sea toward some of the island, apparently a popular activity here.
While we were walking on the walls we ran into Hugh, an Australian who is now living in Switzerland and who is on a 3-week cycle tour. We recognized the familiar ping of SPD cleats on the rock walls and his Ortleib handlebar bag was a dead giveaway. We chatted for some time about our respective tours and cycling generally – it was a fun diversion from the normal tourist activity.
After coming down off the walls we headed into several of the old churches that are found in the old city. They are also very impressive with ornate portraits of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and other saints. I think we have gotten quite used to seeing the ornate ceilings in the mosques in Turkey so the white walls and ceilings in these churches seemed quite stark – but very beautiful all the same.
In 1991 the city of Dubrovnik was shelled by the Yugoslavian army and you can see evidence of it in some of the buildings, mostly in the divots in the sides of the buildings. Apparently a great deal of work was done after the shelling to reconstruct the old city so the major damage has been repaired. There are photographs on the sides of some of buildings showing the damage from the shelling, so it is clearly still fresh in the minds of those that live in the old city.
We found a place for some take-away lunch and went and found a place in the shade to people watch and eat. We saw a large cruise ship in the waters not too far out and you could spot the ‘cruisers’ wandering about. Then we went back to our favourite ice-cream shop for the third time! If you can believe it, Dave had the same flavor all three times – mint chocolate chip. I tried the pistachio, mocca and hazelnut and would be hard pressed to pick a favourite. There are lots more flavours to try but unfortunately we have to depart so won’t be able to try them.
Tomorrow we head north along the Dalmation coast, as this part of Croatia is called. It is apparently a historical term that derives from the name of the tribe that inhabited the narrow coastal area along the Adriatic sea. And yes, the Dalmatian dog received its name from this region. There are many islands off the coast and we plan to do a bit of island hopping along the way using ferries. Croatia is supposed to be a great place for camping and from internet searches it looks like there are quite a few campgrounds dotting the coast and the islands so we hope to camp most of the way up.
The weather looks hot and sunny for the foreseeable future, with the highs rarely below 29-30C. Can’t really complain about no rain but we will probably have to start getting some early starts to avoid having to ride too long in the afternoon heat. From what we hear from other cyclists the roads along the coast are not short of ups and downs but there should be some pretty scenic riding.
PS: Happy B-day Andy (my brother)