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Going home

That June 8th, at 1pm sharp, the ship left it’s moorings and headed out of Dubrovnik toward Venice.  We said good bye to the Balkans hoping we could get back…some day.  However when you are in your early 80s and late 70s hope is just about all you have since the future, uncertain at any age, is just more so as you get on in age.

Next morning early we sailed up the watery Venetian boulevards that we had sailed down a week before.  As we progressed, I spotted the MSC Divina following us as we had followed her last Saturday.  We had met her in Bari, but not since.  We had also a nice surprise: docked alongside the boulevard was this beautiful 3 masters.

A fine “au revoir” from a city that built it’s fortune and Empire on shipping and trading and sent Marco Polo all over, or most of, the then known world.

We disembarked at 8:30, the shuttle bus came at 9:30 instead of 9 as announced, (Mussolini, where are you?).  Then we stopped at another pier to pick up Divina passengers, yes the same guys that were on our plane coming in and will be again going out.  After winding our way through the morning traffic we had a picture of the airport that we had not seen coming in.  Last Saturday, it was off the plane, into the shuttle and on the ship, bingo.  Today we got into an overcrowded departure deck and were told we could not check our bagages before 1:30, 3 hours away. so we were directed to the waiting area

outside the building under plexiglass canopies.  Although grey, fortunately, it was not raining.  We took turns going in to the pizza counter to get something to eat (it was very good) on our luxurious stone bench.  At 1:30 pm though we were quickly through the embarkment proces and security.  All the room lacking outside was explained by all the room, past security, taken over by duty free shops and very nice ones at that…but no sitting room;  finally, after some shopping, we went through the Customs (La Guardia di Finanza) desk and walked down to the boarding area…lo and behold, comfortable seats.

Since our plane was way out on the tarmac, we had to board a shuttle bus to get to it.  Photo taken from my seat through the porthole.  We left on time and landed in Montreal slightly ahead of schedule.  But before we flew over the Alps, Italy gave us another beautifull sight

A very nice bye bye..


Dubrovnik, Former Republic of…

6:30am and we stand on deck 11 watching the approaches to the port of Dubrovnick.  The first sight we have is of this very elegant suspended bridge.  As we got nearer, it became clear that it was built like the draw bridges of yore.

The next thing we learned is that beyond the hills, about 3 or four kilometers away, you are in Bosnia/Herzegovina.  We are in a History laden region.  As Serbia‘s foreign minister said, during the war that occured at the former Yougoslavia‘s breakup:  “We have History, we even have too much History”.    Since the Serbs considered themselves the guardian of that History  given the mission of preserving Greater Serbia, they went to war with all those who were breaking away.  All sides committed war crimes in the name of patriotism and History.

It so happened that Croatia where Dubrovnik is situated also had History and a proud identity and Dubrovnik was the pearl of it’s eyes.  In order to preserve it, they emptied the City of all military personel making it an “open City”, thus protected from the ravages of war…but to no avail, the Serbs bombarded the old fortified city, probably to brake the morale of the secessionists, but to no avail.  That was in 1991.  Today, you are hard put to find traces of that destruction.  Everything has been rebuilt to it’s original appearance, with the same materials and techniques, quite a feat.

At left, the new city, at right,a view of the old port and part of the fortification wall that encompasses the whole old town.

The Tirena, a replica of a Republic of Dubrovnik  merchant ship that took us from our ship to the old port and the Fortified City. A very nice and realxing trip around the the rocky peninsula on which is built old Dubrovnik.

The Saint Blaise church in Dubrovnik, .  In front is a monument to the young knights no particular one, just any young one.  Here below the church picture, you have the Saint holding the town in his hand to protect it against hearthquakes.  It would seem they never had a serious one since the middle ages when the city was ravaged by  a quake and they built that church to invoke the Saint’s protection.

                                  Two last views of the Old Town.  0n top, a very old building just outside the walls, in the middle, the Stradoun, the Main Street, it goes from a gate in the wall off the old port to another gate  giving access to the less old but not quite new town. In this picture, we are looking toward the old port. On each side, very narrow alleys lead to the wall on either side.  the right side alleys all end with a steep stair ending at the wall with buildings on each sides.  The town has a permanent population of around 8 000 and sees one million tourists each year.

 A last look at the walls before sailing away back to Venice and Montreal.  But one last anecdote, shall we?  The old town has two pharmacies called the Old and the New.  They both are still in operation.  The Old, 700 years, is also a Museum; the New, 103, is…the newer.

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