Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Had to wake up early. 7:30 a.m.! (Hard to remember a time when I regularly woke up at 5:00 a.m. for work.) I needed to be up early to meet the tour for “walking the walls” of the Old City. If there is any tour of the city to take, this is the one!

I generally would like to do the tour by myself, but knowing how much history there is, based upon these walls, I decided that it would be a more fulfilling experience to have a local guide.

We met up at 9:30 and were assigned our audio guides and off we went to make the first climb up the stairs to begin our tour.

Below: Setting off on our tour. There were 7 of us on this tour.

A very different perspective when you look out over the Old City and there is literally a “sea” of terracotta roofs to view once you climb up. Around every turn during our walk, the perspective changes. The wall around the city is far from being level. It seems to follow, for the most part, the elevation of the land. The tour involved going up and down stairs at regular intervals. Many, many steps.

The early city, Ragusa, was founded in around the 7th century. The city walls were built over the next several hundreds of years as the city grew. Because of the walls, the city was able to remain an independent republic for over 450 years. While essentially independent, it was a times under the protection of the Byzantine Empire, Venice, and to some extent, Rome. Dubrovnik originally was built in an oak forest so its name stemmed from “dub” which means oak and “dubrava” which means wood.

Part of the early settlement can be found in the NW corner of the city. (Below)

The main street through the city (below) connects all of the other side streets within the city. Recently, for the new movie “Robin Hood” this street was transformed into the town of Nottingham, England. There are several churches and schools within the city. I’ve heard that there are between 2,000 and 4,000 residents who live within the city walls.

Looking over the wall, you can see the main entrance (Pile) and Fort Lovrijenac (or St. Lawrence Fortress).

My favorite restaurant is pictured below.

In the early days, building outside the city walls was not encouraged since these buildings could be used by those wanting to launch attacks against the city. Also, the city couldn’t protect these buildings during an invasion.

On top of the walls, there are open areas that would be used to defend the city.

There are forts, with very thick walls, that anchor the walls and provide defense and space to house the militia.

The harbor was very busy during the middle ages and beyond. Dubrovnik was a major port in the early days. Took a picture of people on a kayak tour.

The church (St. Saviour Church) were I’ve attended several candlelight concerts is pictured below.

Was exhausted after this tour. So many steps! Headed home after the hike, showered, ate a little lunch then napped.

Later, I started getting ready for my trip to Dublin. Put clothes in the wash and set out everything that needed to be packed tomorrow.

Think I napped too much earlier. Didn’t get to bed until after midnight. Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow!

 

 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Not much planned for today. First, I needed to replace a broken drinking glass that I found in the dishwasher. Not sure if I broke it, but would be a nice gesture to replace it with another. I had an idea to head up to the Old Town and look for the replacement there.

When in Old Town, I looked through many gift / souvenir shops but didn’t find any glasses that I liked. Was also thinking about getting a haircut too – when I saw a barber shop, I when in and had a seat. Think I was the only tourist in the shop – or at least the only person who didn’t speak Croatian. I was about 5th in line so I waited my turn. I took a picture of my barber. Both barbers in the shop wore white. Cost for haircut: $6 USD (No, not me in the chair.)

Saw this church while walking around.

Many streets in Old Town look like this. Many shops and restaurants.

From there I saw a sign advertising a performance of Croatian songs. It was scheduled for Tuesday night. As I was heading back to the main gate, I passed the chapel that puts on the candlelight performance and saw there was a performance for tonight – a trio (piano, flute, bass) with soloist.  Done – I’ll come back later for tonight’s performance.

On the way out of Old Town, noticed that almost everyone on the left side of the bridge was eating an ice cream cone. (Except me.)

From there I passed a stand that was offering tours of the Old Town Wall. It was the same company I saw while researching online. After asking some questions: How big is the group? Does the tour guide speak English? Will the guide mind if I ask questions? I decided to book a tour for tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

Got off the bus early and stopped by Tommys, a local supermarket, to see if I could find glasses there. Found a set of six that were just what I was looking for – sturdy and short – something that wouldn’t break or fall over in the dishwasher. I also picked up another chicken to bake.

After a nap, I woke and put the chicken in the oven to bake while I worked on my journal. Also prepared some broccoli to have with the chicken. Not having much to eat today (not even an ice cream cone) I became very hungry as could smell the chicken cooking. The chicken cost around $7 USD and I usually get two meals out of it.

After dinner it was time to get ready to head back to Old Town for tonight’s performance. After waiting at the bus stop and not finding the right bus, I decided to just walk up to Old Town and forget about the bus. My back was feeling a bit better and off I went.

Took a picture of the road next to the harbor.

When I arrived at Old Town, I saw my #6 bus taking on passengers and decided to take a picture.

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Program

Sorkocevic: Symphony No. 1 – Allegro

J.S. Bach: Gounod: Ave Maria

Giordani: Carol Mio Ben

Vivaldi: Vieni, Vieni

Schubert: Stadchen

Corak: Three Little Music Boxes

Gillet: Meditation

Durante: Vergin, Tutto Amor

Strauss: Zuegnung

Mozart: Andante

Fanck: Panis Angelicus

Tchaikovsky: Sred Sumnog Vala

Rossini: La Vals

 

 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Today I’ve planned to visit the Island of Lokrum. A 15 minute boat ride from the port in the Old City. After waiting for a bus, which are limited on Sunday, I caught a #6 to the Old City. Had a conversation with a local who said I could take the #1A and I explained that I knew where the #6 and #8 would take me and would rather wait. This local, as I found out, was waiting at the stop so he could relieve the driver of the #6 bus that I was waiting for. How about that?

I asked some questions and found out that the boat ride to Lokrum was only handled by one company and was directed to buy a ticket from the dock, which I did. Still wasn’t sure what I was going to see on the island. Many trees, peacocks, rabbits, views of the sea, a cathedral, and a fort. I mainly went for the boat ride. Being with a group of other tourists is always an adventure. And I wasn’t disappointed. So many expectations, concerns, me-first, taking pictures, looking after (or not) the kids, etc. So much activity and I just wanted to enjoy the boat ride.

We landed on Lokrum and left the boat as the returning passengers got on. We all then gathered by a large map of the island with over 20 places listed on the map to visit. And then we were off … and scattered in every direction. I couldn’t decide what to see first so found the main path and started to walk. Very calming to take a slow walk through the forest. My back was still a bit sore so took several rest stops.

Many peacocks roamed the islands. They seemed to be okay with people taking their picture. Except when some people started to play with them – they didn’t like that too much.

Came upon a swimming hole called the Dead Sea. The sea water comes into this rocky area which seems to warm up the water and is a great place to swim – or jump from a cliff which is what some young folk were doing. (Where were their parents!) Probably something crazy that I would have done at their age. It was about a 50 foot jump.

I walked around some more before heading back to the boat. I saw an advertisement for a Segway tour of the island. Maybe I’ll return on Wednesday.

Heading back to the Old City, I took a picture of the harbor. I could imagine it was quite the event for early sailors to first see the city from this angle.

 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

After breakfast and a shower I caught the #6 bus that took me to Babin Kuk, on the Lapad Peninsula. Babin Kuk is further out from the central part of the city and has views in several directions. I saw a park along the bus route and got out for a walk.

From there I went into the Old City and had lunch at my favorite place and had my usual tuna salad. Also took a picture of the city’s wall from my table. (A night time picture is shown further down the page.)  I’ve sat at table #508 before.

After lunch I visited the Franciscan Church and Monastery to see one of the oldest European pharmacies and their museum.  The pharmacy has been located there since the 15th century.

Courtyard

The museum has a number of ancient artifacts on display.

On the way out I noticed a concert this evening at Domino Church in the Old City. Performing tonight is the Dubrovnik Chamber Trio (Flute, Basson, Harpsichord / Piano).

The Domino Church was destroyed in the great earthquake of 1667 and was rebuilt in Baroque style during the same century. It contains the 17th century altarpiece The Glory of all Saints by Andrea Vaccaro. It used to be the seat of the fraternity of the stonemasons.

Program: 

Old England:
   Purcell: Rondeau
   Corbett: Sarabande
   Traditional: Two Dances
   Boyce: Arioso
   Purcell: Rigaudon-Menuett
   Babell: Bouree

J.S. Bach: Air (Suite No 3 in D Major)

Mozart: Divertimento KV 252 (240a)
– Andante, Menuett, Polonaise, Presto assai

Beethoven: Adagio cantabile, Op. 1, No. 1

Three Romantic Moments
   Schubert: Moment Musical
   Tchaikovsky: Romance, Op. 5
   Brahms: Hungarian (Ungarischer) Dance No. 5

Pejacevic: Rose (from Life of Flowers)

Pessard: Andalouse

Bizet: Seguidilla

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After the concert on the way out of the Old City, I took a picture of the city’s walls.

After getting home, I made a batch of French Toast for the morning. To be honest, I got up in the middle of the night and cooked up three slices, then had the remainder in the morning. The picture below shows that these slices of bread that soaked up six eggs of batter.

Friday, 26 May 2017

A very quiet day. Took a couple of short walks but tried to give my back a rest. It is feeling better, but I’m missing my walks and exploring Dubrovnik.

Part of the day I re-organized some of my documents and worked on my travel budget for review with my financial planner in June.

I checked into the ferry schedule that runs between Dubrovnik and Split, which is about 200 km away and is a 4 hour boat ride. There is a boat that leave in late afternoon and doesn’t return until the next day. I’ll have to think about that. If I was here in June, the boat leaves in the morning and returns later in the evening.

For my entertainment tonight, I hooked my laptop to the TV and watched the last Star Wars on the big screen. I mostly watch programs or movie on my laptop, but it is Star Wars after all. 40 years ago I remember seeing Star Wars for the first time at the Westgate Theater in Beaverton. 40 years ago… Wow!

Tomorrow I’ll take the bus over to Babin Kuk, a district of Dubrovnik, that is across the Gruz port from where I’m staying.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

For the last couple of days my thoughts have been about those who are no longer with us. Maybe because Memorial Day is coming up, but think my mind headed in this direction because I learned that someone who I worked with some 40 years ago, had passed away.

It was in 1977 when Carol and I first met. This was my first “grown up” job since graduating the year before. I was a policy and procedure documentation writer and then was cross-trained to run the bank’s profitability and staffing reports. Somewhere along the way Carol and I discovered that we had the same quirky sense of humor and were generally the two who organized department events. Our senior VP’s office was close by and his admin was frequently walking over to tell us to keep the noise down. This week I learned that she passed away last February of cancer. And then I started remembering the good times. It happens that friends sometimes drift away, which is what happened with Carol and I. Our careers and our co-workers went in different directions. I learned from reading her obituary that she devoted much of her free time visiting and knitting items for a variety of people who needed extra care. At lot happens in 40 years.

And today would have been our mom’s 88th birthday. Also named Carol, she passed away in 1983 at the age of 54. She shared May 25th as a birthday with her grandfather. I included a picture of them taken in 1940.

While in this reflective mood I bought the ingredients to make chicken noodle soup. (Nope, not tired of it yet.) Good use of the leftover chicken from last night.

After dinner I went for a walk. It had been raining most of the day and was nice to get out of the house. The marina is about a block away and could see tonight’s sunset. Wow! I took a bunch of pictures and couldn’t decide which one I liked most. Somehow, an amazing sunset was a great way to wrap up today’s memories.

 

 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Slept in this morning (nothing new about that) and enjoyed coffee, local bread, and yogurt with bananas for breakfast/lunch. Also finished the last of the unpacking.

After a shower I decided to pick up a few items from the store to make a roast chicken from an Ina Garten recipe. Easy to make – cut up half a lemon with salt and garlic and put into the (cleaned) bird, then mix together lemon, onion, garlic plus 2 – 3 tablespoons of good olive oil and place in a roasting pan around the prepared chicken. Roast for 1:15 at 425F or 220C.

The roast turned out beautifully. I had to endure the smell of the cooking chicken while I took care of email, finances and a journal entry. At last the chicken was done! Not having much to eat earlier, I enjoyed a big helping of chicken and some bread and butter.

After dinner I took a nap. Going to the Old Town for the Wednesday concert at the chapel, like I did last week – and it starts at 9:00 p.m.  Around 7:30 I started to get ready to leave. My back was still hurting a little so thought taking a bus would be best. At the bus stop I met two couples from England and we talked about Dubrovnik, traveling, our countries, steam trains, and politics. Nice that the bus was late so we had more time to talk.

Got off the bus and made the short walk to the chapel to buy a ticket ($20 USD or 130 KU) and waited for the concert to begin. Same group (Dubrovnik String Quartet) as last week. I took a picture of the quartet while they were tuning up.

Dubrovnik String Quartet

Program:
   I. J.S. Bach: Air
   II. Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Allegro
   III. Beethoven: Minuett
   IV.  Elgar: Salut D’Amore
   V. Albeniz: Tango
   VI. Faure: Apres Un Reve
   VII. Monti: Czardas
   IIX. Debusy: Children’s Corner
   IX. Britten: Playful Pizzicato

After the program I was tempted to have a chocolate cone. For only 10 KU ($1.50 USD) – who could pass that up? From there I walked home and took several rest stops because of my back. By the time I got home had over 10,000 steps, so good to get some exercise regardless of the back.

It was nearly 11:00 when I walked through the door. After a light snack I was in bed by 1:00. Chicken noodle soup tomorrow!

 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

As it worked out, I planned to tour three of the Elaphiti Islands (elaphiti is the ancient Greek name for deer) near Dubrovnik. I chartered a boat with a local person who will be skipper and guide for the day. Before I left the flat to start the boat trip, I finished packing, washing clothes and cleaning before heading out the door. The plan was to get back to Dubrovnik by 5:00, gather my belongings then meet the new Airbnb host at 6:00 p.m.

Was out the door at 8:30 to meet up with the boat skipper, Kreso. We met at the port marina shortly before 9:00 and were on our way. His English was not so good (and my Croatian non-existent), but we managed. I suggested coffee at our first stop to have more time to discuss the rest of the day. Yes, I should have just sat back and enjoyed the ride, but that isn’t me. I like to know where I’m going and what to expect.

We stopped for coffee at the first island, Kolocep. A small island with an area near the marina for local people and tourists. Around 200 live on the island. After coffee. and a walk through the island we left for the next island, Lopud. I took some pictures of the island and a small chapel (from the 10th century) and cemetery.

Lopud is the more populous of the three islands. Had a big hotel with another on the way. Here we stopped for lunch. The server put bibs on us – good for pictures but not to wear. Our order of fish was easy to eat.

Kreso (pictured below) said this restaurant had the freshest food. All probably caught in the morning.

I had a seafood dish, Gregada, that was a specialty of the area. Kreso had a pasta seafood dish. The bread was great – well, at least the white bread (flour and corn meal), but the dark break (after translation) was made of squid ink.

Squid ink bread. I did try it….

After lunch I took a walk and Kreso returned to the boat for a post-lunch siesta. He confessed he was out the night before and perhaps still a little hung over.

The beach of Lopud and the new hotel.

The next island was very small and only a few residents. We had some coffee at the local coffee shop and talked some more about Croatia and Dubrovnik. I didn’t take any pictures.

I took pictures as we entered the Dubrovnik harbor. And another of the Dubrovnik bridge.

After we docked, Kreso drove me to my flat to meet my host’s helper, who happened to be my driver and guide from Saturday, Josip. After gathering up my belongings, and saying good-bye to Anna too, we headed to my new flat. Josip was kind to help carry my larger suitcase down the stairs. His care was being worked on nearby, so was (sort of) convenient for him.

I met my new host, Ana, and said good-bye to Josip. Ana, who I found out was from Estonia, showed we around the flat, a very modern place with all the conveniences. I couldn’t wait to lay down and take a nap. 8 hours of touring, and the boat ride, really wore me out.

Later I woke and visited the local market, returned and then warmed up some (pre-made) tortellinis and sauce. Then I unpacked. By the time I started to write my daily journal, it was time for bed. It was before 10:00, but I was tired! Tomorrow I’ll rest.

 

 

Monday, 22 May 2017

 What was lost has been found!

While doing the wash this morning, I pulled the clothes out of the washer and found my sunglasses! Guess I put the glasses in my shirt pocket and forgot about them. It was just like saying hello to an old friend when I saw them.

Once I finished hanging up the wash I left to mail a package, eat lunch, add some money to my phone’s account, and make arrangements to move to a new Airbnb tomorrow. (Reminder: I couldn’t decide which Airbnb to reserve so reserved both the two I liked. One has a view and the other is down by the port.)

Today I decided to try out the bus system. Josip, my guide from Saturday, showed me the nearby bustop. The bus goes right by the old town for the equivalent of $1.75. My back has been hurting a little and have not been walking as much.

At lunch I looked up at the people walking the wall of the Old Town. I’ll get up there one of these days before I leave.

So many stairs…

After lunch (had a tuna salad again) and mailed the package I walked back. Back was starting to hurt as I walked back. Stopped off at the phone store and added more minutes to my phone. Took it easy and rested a few times while walking. Just need to take an Aleve when I get back to the flat and I’ll be good as new.

My boat will show up at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, so will get packed and ready to move when I return later in the afternoon. I would have liked to have done the boat tour on Wednesday, but the weather is questionable on that day. I don’t want to be out on the open sea in a small boat if the weather turns bad.

Aeropress

Though I’d document how I make coffee each morning. I use an Aeropress – something that I found a few years ago. I was looking for a coffeemaker that would be easy to use and produce good coffee – plus I could take with me when I travel.

The Aeropress is really just three items: the container that holds the coffee and water, the screen (and paper filter) that hold in the ground coffee, and the plunger.

First, I put a paper filter into the screen, then fit onto the container. I put 3 heaping teaspoons of ground coffee into the container. While the hot water is heating, I add a little sugar in the coffee cup. When the water is boiling, pour the water into the container and stir for around 10 seconds. Then take the plunger (with rubber seal) and press down to push the water through the coffee. The result is some really strong coffee. I add some hot water so it isn’t too strong. Then add milk. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes. I generally pack some ground coffee with me. If in a hotel, there is generally a kettle and most of the flats I stay in already have a kettle. The milk and sugar I can buy anywhere or the hotel provides.

Screen and paper filter:

Add sugar to cup:

Add coffee to container:

Put container on coffee cup:

Add water to container, then put plunger onto container. Then press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

It was a French Toast morning. First at 6:30 and then again at 9:00. I was having dreams about eating French Toast and woke early to make a small batch, returned to bed, and fixed the rest later at 9:00.

Last night I prepared the batter (guess that is what you’d call it) of six eggs, milk, cinnamon, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Having some day-old bread, I cut up the bread and placed into a pan where I then poured on the batter and placed in the refrigerator. About an hour later, I checked on the progress of the batter soaking into the bread and almost all of the batter was soaked up. By bedtime, the batter was completely soaked up. Six eggs!

To cook, I put butter in a pan and turned up the heat to medium high. Then put in the toast after the butter melted and keeping an eye on the toast to make sure it doesn’t burn. While the toast is cooking I turn on the oven. When the toast is done, I put into the oven for 5 – 10 minutes to make sure the toast is cooked all the way through.

If available, I use peanut butter as a topping. Having no peanut butter, I spread on butter. And there you have it…

Early afternoon, I prepared to walk down to the terminal area where the cruise ships dock to check out my next Airbnb, have lunch, and buy a few items at the market. On my way out I stopped and spoke with my neighbor, Anna – the one who encouraged me to buy a hat. We had another interesting conversation. She told me a little about the where bombs fell in the neighborhood during their civil war, the storm last night, cataract surgery, the harsh winter and which trees are now dead, needing a new roof, neighborhood boy who was pronounced dead for 10 minutes, where to put the garbage, her cell phone, new technology, her cherry tomato plants, the languages she speaks. All very interesting! We said our good-byes and I walked down to the terminal. One of the reasons I was walking down there was a test run when I move on Tuesday. Given the short distance, I’ll need to roll my suitcase down there and wanted to find the best way to go and avoid the stairs. There are stairs everywhere! Almost like an Escher painting.

I texted both my current and future Airbnb hosts and made arrangements for Tuesday. At this point, these moving arrangements are temporary but will finalize tomorrow after I have a look at the weather forecast. I’ve scheduled a boat tour of the islands for either Tuesday or Wednesday – weather permitting.

For lunch I had a small salad with a few small pieces of toast with a truffle spread and topped with new cheese. Very filling! I’ll probably have a late dinner.

When I got back home I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Nap time!

This evening I’ll get my clothes ready to be washed in the morning. Tomorrow I’ll do the wash then walk over to the old city and check into the logistics of walking on the city walls.