Dubrovnik: My Favorites

Dubrovnik  (pop 42,615)

Croatia

June 9, 2015

Hello,

The crowds in Dubrovnik are overwhelming. 

(If you’ve been here, you know what I’m talking about.)

Wikipedia says, “Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations on the Adriatic Sea.”

The Old Town is swarming with tourists and passengers on an excursion from their cruise ships.  (Yes, ships!  Every day, ships!) 

Once again I employ my “Split Strategy.”

As I approach the congested gate to the old city I decide to make a left turn and climb the hill to explore the outer walls of the city.  Here I am alone, except for a few drivers at the car parks,

Later, I join the crowd and proceed through the gate.  Since I am a New Yorker, the millions in Times Square have never been a problem for me.  But this location is ridiculous.  I make a right turn and climb the narrow streets to the highest point I can find.  The hike is steep and strenuous but the upper reaches of town are residential and peaceful.   And the view ain’t too bad either.

In the afternoon, the crowds disperse.  I head down the hill and find a café on a quiet side street.  I take a leisurely late lunch of lamb kebabs, boiled potatoes and vegetables.  I “thirst” for a cool glass Ožujsko pivo.

Finally, I explore “Dubrovnik.”

I stroll over to the port and then back again to the main plaza.  My favorite site is the Rector’s Palace.  The exterior columns are topped with a variety of stone sculptures.

I spend quite a long time in the Old Synagogue chatting with other visitors, both Jews and non-Jews.  One particularly talkative guy is a Jewish police captain from Chicago.  And like so many other synagogues in Europe, there is a list of the Dubrovnik Jews who “disappeared” during the Holocaust. I am especially impressed with the origin of the family names: Russian, German, and Spanish Sephardim. 

For its long history as a strategic port, Dubrovnik attracted families and businessmen from many parts of Europe.  In fact, the Old Synagogue in Dubrovnik is the oldest Sephardic synagogue still in use today in the world and the second oldest synagogue in Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubrovnik_Synagogue

Now, here’s the advantage of being an independent traveler:

From my hotel high in the hill overlooking the Old City, I wander down the main avenue.  On my right I spot what looks like a park.  Except for a man and woman from Germany, there’s nobody else here.  At the far end of the tree-filled park is an old building – an administration center for the nearby university.

Here’s the best part: the two parallel pathways leading to the distant building are arcades lined with stone pillars of many ancient styles and shapes.  My favorites are the spiral columns of Venetian design?

The capital of each column is decorated with a sculpture of a mythological being.  I have to admit that Bacchus (Dionysus) is my favorite.  The sculptor depicted a slightly soused Bacchus at the conclusion of his bacchanalia.

And who can blame the old sot?  With the commotion and chaos in the town below, surely Bacchus, and Yours truly, are entitled to raise a glass or two and enjoy the effects of the local adult beverage?

Jan

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