By the time we got to Dubrovnik, we were a little more energetic than we’d been in Split. Our days were still filled with cafés, cakes and minced meat, but we also added ice cream. Quite a lot of ice cream. And the Olympics were just starting (yes, I’m still well behind on posting these damn blog posts, we’ve already covered that), so we picked a typically Croatian Irish pub and enjoyed a typically Croatian Guinness while watching the typically Croatian London 2012 opening ceremony – in Arabic on al-Jazeera, because the owner seemed not to have realised aforehand that his Sky Sports package didn’t include the BBC. (Also featured: a typically Croatian British tourist throwing up into her beer at the table next to us, as her boyfriend fell typically – but, in fairness, not entirely Croatianly – asleep across the table and her friend explained loudly and drunkenly how much she hated Sebastian Coe, and – this shouted apparently without irony – would he please get off the TV because no one wanted to listen to what he had to say. A lovely counterpoint – or perhaps just honest addition – to LOCOG’s depiction of British culture.)
Once done admiring our apparent metamorphosis into exactly the eating + drinking + sitting + nothing type of American / Aussie / Brit tourist we generally mercilessly mock (you know, the one that somehow manages to trudge around the world while doing exactly the same thing everywhere else as they do at home), we got to exploring Dubrovnik: the old town, the walls that surround it, and the sea around that.
Inside the old town was pleasant, but almost oppressively over-touristed and kitsch. The walls were definitely a good walk – strolling around the top, circling the whole of the old town, peering into the back yards and through the washing lines of the locals whose apartments back onto the expertly masoned ancient stone defences. For a better view, though, we climbed the hill to overlook the old town as the sun set. (There’s a cable car up to the observation point too, but where’s the fun in that?) The dying sun beautifully painted the city, the landscape, the seascape, and the scene of me on a hill muttering curses at Canon for the manufacturing defect that had rendered my camera useless a week earlier (or more, rather, for Canon’s inability so far to usefully answer any question about what they might be able to do about it). [Post script: don’t worry, the wonderfully helpful guys and girls at Photo Centar – a third-party Canon-authorised service centre in Zagreb – were able to replace my camera a few days later (despite continued utter uselessness from Canon’s own customer service), so the period of cursing was soon to end, and I’ll soon be back to posting my own pretty pictures in amongst the boring text I inflict upon you all here. Meantime, thanks again to Chris for allowing me to steal his pretty pictures instead: all credit for the photos in this post is his. Although obviously I provided significant editorial guidance and stuff.]
And having seen the walls from above, we also made sure to see them from below (albeit it not at sunset), jumping in the water on one side of the old town and swimming along outside the seaside wall right over to the other. And then back again, for good measure (and since we were enjoying ourselves). It was such a pleasant experience out in the water that the next day we rented kayaks and spent a couple of hours paddling not only around the seaside wall, but also out and around the nearest island, and along the coast to the east and west of the old town. (In what I hope is not developing into a theme, this circumnavigation of Lokrum Island took us right past a nude beach. Thankfully we were this time far enough out in the water not to be overly confronted with quite such a detailed appraisal of the efficacy of the beach-dwellers’ valiant struggles against tan-lines.)
And that was pretty much it for our time in Dubrovnik. Which, I gather, marks us out as a little different from the majority of Australian passers-through. At least according to Anna, the lady running the hotel we inhabited. See the people on the rocks outside the wall in the photo just above? Yeah, apparently that spot proves a problem for a number of Australian tourists. It’s a bar/café, and a great place to enjoy the seaside. But in Anna’s words: “You go drink, no problem. You go jump in the water, no problem. You go drink and then jump in the water? Problem… I get phone call in early morning to come pick you up from nightclub, that’s fine. I get phone call in early morning to come pick you up from hospital? Not fine.”
But hey, I’m OK with being a little different. Especially if the difference is that my arms and legs all still point in the directions I tell them to. Coz I’d appreciate being able to continue to swim and kayak around the world’s more beautiful cities when I want to. If it’s all the same to the rest of you…