Yesterday was a long travel day, with flying from Vienna to Dubrovnik, with a 3.5 hour layover in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. After Vienna, with its white, clean marble and concrete buildings (even though it’s called a “green” city, with 50% of it’s space greenspace), Dubrovnik is like a tropical paradise, with its exotic and colorful flowers, gorgeous, green soaring mountains, and old, picturesque buildings, clinging to the hillside in an old walled city overlooking the blue Adriatic Sea.
Renata, our Airbnb host, arranges for Pero, a friend, to pick us up at the airport. He is very proud of his beautiful city. He drops us off at the end of a lane , with our luggage and takes off. I have no idea where we are supposed to go (his English was spotty, and my Croatian is nil). I start walking down the lane and try to call Renata (this is easier said than done. If I use my cell, it’s 35 cents a minute! I have a very old cast off phone from my brother for which I got a cheap, prepaid, international Sim card). I try and call Renata, and a man comes bounding down the steps where I am at. He is Renata’s husband and helps Ken with the luggage and takes us up to the flat to meet Renata. For those of you who know me, Miss Planner/Check Everything twice, this was really outside my comfort zone, just trusting that it will work out and not knowing what’s happening to get to our Airbnb and connect with Renata.
It all worked out. I’m actually proud of myself. (Know it doesn’t sound like much, but for me, it was.)
Renata is a hoot! She greets us with homemade walnut liqueur shots and cookies (it’s mid afternoon). She explains everything and suggests what we should do while here. In true Airbnb host culture, she pays Pero for our ride and says we can pay her back, as we don’t have the correct currency (Croatia, a country of 4 million people – SC has more population – has its own currency, the Kuna, even though it is part of the EU…this is the only place on Earth where the Kuna is used, and since there are many tourists who need to convert their dollars and Euros to that, there are ATMs and Exchanges on every corner). We walk down the narrow lane to the narrow sidewalk (only one person wide and next to a busy street with cars whipping by) to the little nearby market to get some staples for breakfast and lunch (we want to cook so we don’t have to eat every meal out: expensive, time consuming, and fattening).
We decide to eat dinner out and go local. I order a glass of white, dry Croatian wine and Ken goes with a Croatian beer. We both like our drinks. We decide to try “Dubrovnik przolica”, something like a skirt steak, but a unique taste (came with a really good spinach and potato side dish), and Cevapcici, some chopped meat sausages, which, again, were tasty, but totally unlike anything we ever had had before. The prices, like Vienna’s, were a bit of a surprise, after Portugal and Spain, which were so inexpensive.
Really didn’t know anything about Dubrovnik or Croatia, so the next day we take a little guided walking tour. That helped us to get our bearings. It is beautiful, but WAY overcrowded with the summer tourist crowds, including cruise ships stopping here for the day. Too many people in such a small space. It sort of reminded us of Disneyworld, where everything is so perfectly “historical” and there are so many tourists milling about. The difference: this is real!!
Croatia is safe, and mysterious to me. Wasn’t even sure of the geography, the language which is hard to even attempt to say words, etc. After the little walking tour (the guide brought visuals and maps to supplement her spiel, which helped), I feel a little bit more in tune.
Tonight we’re off to eat at a restaurant that my friend Joanne’s sister ate at twice when she was here. I had been in touch with the owner in Feb., and contacted her again today to thank her for her quick responses to my questions in Feb. I like the connections a lot.
Later: well we were treated like royalty at Horizont, the restaurant I referenced above. Annamaria was our waitress, and the restaurant is interesting as the tables are on different steps overlooking part of the harbor.The local wine was crisp, dry and delicious. The meal was wonderful and the weather perfect. I told Ken, “This is it”. It just doesn’t get any better on the enjoyment scale! Natasa, the owner, made a big fuss about coming over and welcoming us (with a kiss on each check, instead of the 3 kisses like in Montpellier: Geoffrey and Shayne, you know what I mean! LOL). Natasa also took 10% off our bill and treated us to a wonderful grappa (which I normally don’t like, but I did like this). A very fun evening.
Today we’ll explore the city walls (you can walk all around the old city on top of the walls…about a mile and a half), and take a peek at the beach and a park near our flat. Tomorrow is a full day tour of Montenegro, a country 2 hours from here.
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