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Saturday, September 7: Day 138 – Left Behind

Today began with a huge clap of thunder at 7:15am. The lightning hit a lamp post outside our hostel window. The receptionist had gone out to smoke a cigarette when the lightening hit. She said that she couldn’t hear for 15 seconds. Maybe she will quit smoking!!

Storms are an amazing light show from God. I love to watch and hear them…from inside!!

I started to dress and was unable to locate ANY pants. I put a lot of time and money into a travel-friendly matching wardrobe so when my Anatomie, Pashko, and Columbia pants somehow got left behind at our last stop, I was devastated.$$

We have not had luck with mail to or from the USA and we are not in one stop for long so that is not an option.

My wise daughter, Amy, told me if you return home with the same clothes, you really haven’t traveled.

So far I have a replacement of fluorescent orange shorts. Rob winced and said,”Well, I will always be able to find you in a crowd.” It will not match with much, but these are desperate times.

I am thinking about adding a pair of loose elephant pants as we are heading to Jordan then Southeast Asia.

All I have are skirts and dresses so I tossed the pants to the universe and put on my skirt and off we went.

We had arranged for a city tour the night before and the rain had let up so Rob and I hailed a cab to the Old City.$$$

Once we arrived, Rob got an email that our tour had been canceled due to the weather!!! Fortunately, there were lots of tour guides so we joined a small group of English speakers.

Croatia is a very small country of 4.2 million. The kuna is the currency, and it takes 7 kuna to make a dollar.

Dubrovnik has its own history as it was an independent republic for 500 years from 1358-1808. Six thousand people used to live inside the walled city. Today 500 local people live inside during peak season. Most people who own a place inside rent it out and live outside the city during the summers. During the offseason from Nov 1- Apr 1, ten people and a few cats live in the old city.

Tourism is the biggest industry and perhaps the only industry. Tourists are loved and needed. Dubrovnik is a popular stop for cruise ships. Its beauty is breathtaking…but there is always a crowd.

Venetians were always enemies of Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik trade was salt from Ston which funded the building of the city walls. Ottomans protected them from the Venetians but for a fee. When one sees a lion with book, that means that the Venetians were here.

There was an 8.9 earthquake in 1667. Four thousand people died. Balconies fell and caused many fatalities so when they rebuilt, balconies were not included.

Here is a painting of Dubrovnik before the earthquake.

This painting is found in the Franciscan Monastery Museum.

Kitchens were always on the roof because if/when there was a fire, only the roof burns.

Dubrovnik is 93% Catholic. (Croatia is 86%.) Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits settled within the city wall.

There are steps that look very much like the Spanish steps of Rome. These are called the Jesuit steps. Can you find Rob?

Jesuits brought education. They teach Latin and Greek even today. At the top is Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola. I thought this chapel, which I believe is called a grotto, looks like a cross between a fairy garden and The Rain Forest Cafe.

There are many churches and 5,435 steps in the Old City. The city is cleaned every morning. There are 120 restaurants and 70 are named named Ragusa, the old name for Dubrovnik.

Up until 1808 the city was ruled by an elected rector who served for only one month and lived in the Rector’s Palace during that time. He could not be immediately reelected but could after one year. They did this to prevent corruption, but they didn’t get much done either!

In 1808 Napolean came to town. In 1814 the name changed to Dubrovnik. Dubrava means wood which was needed for ship building.

After WWII socialist Yugoslavia was ruled by Josip Broz Tito. Tito is revered by the older people. They say that Tito was stealing but he shared…like Robin Hood. Today, the leaders are stealing, but there is no sharing.

Yugoslavia had one army called JNA for the six republics. The problem is that the army was in Serbia territory. Imagine only one area having all the military. That seems like a recipe for disaster. Serbia and Croatia remain big enemies.

The war was not about religion, not about civil, but for independence. Bosnia got the worst of it.

Dubrovnik was bombed for 8 months. Over 75% of the rooftops were destroyed by grenades. The bright orange ones are recent.

I can’t even begin to unravel the last thirty years of history of Yugoslavia but Ivan said that a six-part documentary from the BBC was worth watching. Below is the first installment.

Croatians are never in a rush. We only run if there is an earthquake.

Our city guide, Ivona, told us that there is a Marco Polo Festival. I had visions of many people swimming in the sea and one person yelling “Marco” and a large number of people yelling “Polo”.

The most famous must-do is to walk all the way around the city wall which takes about 2 hours.

BE CAREFUL! In May, an American slipped and fell over the wall and fell 165 feet. He miraculously survived but broke every bone. Here is a picture of where it happened.

The early walls were made of wood and had lanterns. There were so many earthquakes that they started to use stones. When one wanted to settle in Dubrovnik, a stone representing the size of your wealth was brought to the city.

The walls near the sea are 20-feet thick to defend cannons and sea attacks. Toward the mountains and the land side, the walls are 3-feet thick in case the inhabitants must flee the city.

We stopped at the Maritime Museum which is on the wall. Rob’s great-grandfather was a sea captain and a painter. This painting looked a lot like his work.

St Blaise is the protector saint of Dubrovnik. One night he couldn’t sleep and went outside. He saw two approaching Venetian ships and alerted the soldiers.

Some of the seasons of The Game of Thrones were filmed here. Two thousand locals were used as extras. People were even paid to keep their shutters closed.

The hills used to be covered with oak trees which were important for ship building. Now it is rocky. Alpine pines were replanted by the Venetians. They are an invasive species.

There are two types of winds. The one from the south is called Yugo. The one from the north is called Bura. If a crime is committed during a Bura, the sentence is cut in half.

We tried to get a cable car ride, but they closed on the count of a big storm coming in. We decided to hike part of the way up the mountain. I got some really good photographs, but we didn’t make it home before the down pour.

After we dried off, we went to The Red Museum. It illustrated what life would be like during the days of Communism. This is the car called Yugo produced in Yugoslavia. It was unreliable and didn’t have modern features such as a radio.

We saw a poster for the movie Ben Hur. All of the Biblical scenes had been edited out. I wondered what that might look like because Jesus was integral to the plot.

Also, one man smuggled the game of Monopoly into Yugoslavia. They had more fun buying and selling property but were most impressed that you could get out of jail so easily.

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