Bird’s Eye Views & Sapphire Blues: Walking the Walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia’s gem on the glimmering Adriatic, is undeniably touristic. However, it is also indisputably alluring. Thanks to its rich history, immaculately-groomed limestone buildings, commanding seaside position, and formidable, 7th-century fortifications, the city attracts tourists from around the world.

Having discovered the rewards of off-season travel, Shawn and I visited the so-called ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ one April, thrilled to discover that while Dubrovnik’s streets were still teeming with cruise ship passengers by day, we largely had the polished limestone lanes to ourselves by night. Walking by the illuminated Rector’s Palace after darkness had fallen over Dubrovnik, we sifted through details from the city’s past, most notably that it was once the Republic of Ragusa, which existed for nearly five centuries.

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The Fountains of Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

With stunning seaside views and streets overflowing with visitors, it might be easy to overlook Dubrovnik’s impressive Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Yet Dubrovnik’s quirky maskerons and fanciful flourishes adorning palaces and cathedrals, are the city’s defining elements, and they are details in which to delight.

When it was a powerful city-state that rivaled the Republic of Venice, Dubrovnik was called Ragusa. Thanks to the maritime trade that thrived in Ragusa for nearly 500 years, the city grew into a formidable power. Studded with ornate cathedrals and palaces, as well as intricately-carved fountains, the city was protected by imposing walls that still wrap around it for roughly 2 kilometers (about 1.2 miles).

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Orthodox Easter Greetings from Ohrid, Macedonia

This spring, we’ve had the fortune of observing Easter celebrations not once, but twice. In Croatia, where Catholicism predominates, we celebrated Easter in late March, whereas we also got to participate in Orthodox Easter festivities in Macedonia this past weekend.

Given its spiritual ties and the fact that it once had more than 365 churches, Ohrid, Macedonia earned the title, ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans.’ Today, many of the UNESCO World Heritage site’s churches have been restored, but others are still awaiting their renaissance. It is not uncommon to see a collapsed church juxtaposed against scenes of everyday life in a thriving neighborhood. Just behind our current ‘home away from home,’ for example, sits the small St. Nicholas Church, which is in ruins. Our hosts noted that local authorities are trying to raise more funds to restore it.

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Scenes from Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

“If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik.” – George Bernard Shaw

Dubrovnik. The Croatian city’s name conjures images of forbidding city walls, fire red rooftops, buildings crafted out of white stone, and a graceful city perched above the vast Adriatic.

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A Walking Tour of Trogir, Croatia

Trogir was our Croatian home away from home for two memorable months. This picturesque old town has a fascinating history that goes back more than 2,300 years — in fact, it’s actually situated on an island!

During our first weeks in Trogir, we preferred to soak up the town’s details bit by bit, leaving much to imagination. However, when the opportunity presented itself to go on a walking tour with Natalija, a new friend and certified tour guide, we decided it was time we properly unravel the mysteries of the ancient town.

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Trogir’s Cathedral of Saint Lawrence: Radovan’s Magnificent Portal

For the past weeks, much like a diner on a progressive dinner savoring rich, multiple courses, I’ve been enjoying slowly absorbing the details of Trogir’s Cathedral of Saint Lawrence.

I first admired the twelfth-century structure from afar. When we attended the city’s rowdy Carnival parade a few weeks ago, its magnificent architecture somehow even managed to distract me from the rowdy parade participants assembled on the town square below. (That says a lot given that there were colorful horse-drawn carriages, children and adults dancing ‘Gangnam Style’ in a frenetic manner, and a parade ‘jester’ running through the crowd offering revelers a sip of an unidentified beverage from a Chianti bottle!)  Continue reading “Trogir’s Cathedral of Saint Lawrence: Radovan’s Magnificent Portal”

Flourishes Fit for a Fairy Tale: Admiring the Details in Trogir, Croatia

Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries.René Descartes

How Trogir tempts me with its fanciful flourishes fit for a fairy tale!

At almost every turn in the Croatian town’s labyrinthine lanes, there emerge weathered faces, coats of arms, religious motifs, and even a nautical-inspired element. Embarking on a grocery shopping mission is a hapless endeavor, for I always become distracted, craning my neck to see the treasures on the façades above. At times, I expect my trusty Nikon (or husband) to start puffing out smoke, exhausted from my maniacal snapping.

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Getting Acquainted with Trogir, Croatia

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”Freya Stark

If there’s anything we’ve learned from mostly living on the road these past 15 months, it’s that travel can be disorienting, but in a lovely sort of way.

One week ago, we left our winter wonderland ‘home’ in Oberammergau, Germany, to embark on an adventure in the Balkans. To get there, we rode a lively, overnight bus that whisked us through four countries in 14 hours: Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and finally, Croatia.

We bid farewell to a monochromatic winter palette that had been embellished with graceful snowflakes on window panes, craggy mountains dusted with sugar-like snowfalls, and elaborately-frescoed buildings. In exchange, we were greeted by palm trees, the sparkling waters of the Adriatic, and the buff-colored limestone cobblestones and buildings that are ubiquitous in Croatia.

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