Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dubrovnik in the Rain

Not rain, really. More like a drizzle. And it didn't spoil things a bit. Just the opposite. The massive walls that surround the old city and protect the port and its tiny beach loom even more formidably against a grey sky. They filmed parts of Game of Thrones here. This bit was Kings Landing. They'll be filming next season's  episodes here as well, and there are entire tours available themed around the Game of Thrones. I've just started reading the first book of the series, so that makes it especially interesting. 

Dubrovnik was a city state, like Venice. It successfully fended off the Venetians, the Turks and everyone else until Napoleon, who gained access to the city by insisting that he and his troops were just passing through. Our word "quarantine" derives from the Dubrovnik rule that anyone entering the city by sea had to wait for 40 (quarantine) days before being allowed to enter the city, to make sure they weren't carrying the plague.

Thanks to the rain, the Old City isn't terribly crowded. Xingxing trots dutifully along, smelling the smells. Like all of the restored, medieval walled cities we've seen along the Adriatic coast, limestone predominates. Limestone cobbles, limestone walls. We learn that Dubrovnik was the First Nation to recognize American independence and that the White House was built with Croatian stone.

After our city tour we travel up into the mountains. We stop to admire -- and photograph -- the walled city, with the "modern" city spilling out on three sides and creeping up the mountain flanks. The walls and forts are truly massive, the forts rounded to better withstand bombardment from the sea.

We stop at Orasac, where we watch a sweet-tempered white horse operate an ancient olive press and then sample the olive oil, which is unlike any I have ever tasted. Then we sit under a vine-covered trellis on a patio overlooking the sea, sampling ham, cheese, vegetables fresh from the garden in front of us and wonderful, local wine. Someone brings a bowl of cold water for Xingxing. The sun is shining, now. It's all just beautiful

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