So we’re getting ready to mosey along. Next stop is Vienna for 5 days. Things 1 and 2 continue to serve as the biggest drags on my emotional state and my back. The Dubrovnik stop has been wonderful; we are rested and ready to go.
I’ve been mentally gathering the list of things I wanted to share about Dubrovnik. These are random thoughts as we prepare to change our vista.
The vista here has been splendid. You just can’t get any better than a medieval-style city set on the Adriatic. While we are not in the downtown area I can take the 10 minute bus ride every day and see this magnificent city. Dubrovnik has only about 12,000 permanent residents and 2 million visitors every year. It has a very cozy feel and alleyways that beckon. No mosques in the city but churches aplenty; tonight we go to the Franciscan Church for the Dubrovnik symphony. It’s a good use for some of these extraordinary buildings that have lost their congregations. We’ve walked the cobbled streets, eaten in the restaurants, shopped in the Saturday market, visited the museums and walked the wall that surrounds the city. And it’s been splendid.
But Croatia and surrounding area has a very sad history. The war of 91-95 is crazy. I’ve seen the pictures at the hill overlooking the Dubrovnik city explaining why Croats are the good guys being shelled by the Serbs. And I’ve seen pictures on a side trip to Mostar, Bosnia of why the Bosniaks are the good guys while being shelled by the Croats. Had we gone into Serbia I’m sure we’d see why the Serbs were the good guys. I don’t have a definitive answer other than to say war is destructive no matter which side you are sitting on. Even if you “win” you lose. Lives are complicated with the after effects, hope is diminished, children are orphaned, historical edifices are lost.
One of the tasks in visiting our destinations is visiting the public library, if there is one. You know I love libraries—we should all love libraries. We should all love the fact that in the US a library card is an incredible asset. We should bow to the wisdom of Carnegie in establishing library buildings even in the remotest parts of the US. And in some communities, bookmobiles come to your neighborhood. In many parts of the world libraries are attached to universities and the universities are entered by invitation only. Here in Dubrovnik there is a public library. In my library research I discovered that during the 91-92 War the public library remained open during the shelling. When war arrived TV and radio communication were affected. My only connection is remembering during the fires in Colorado Springs I so wanted to escape the constant, repetitive news about the fire. I remember thinking even watching Price is Right would have alleviated the anxiety. While life wasn’t “normal” normalcy was what I craved. So the Dubrovnik library created normalcy, a place to gather, a book to read that provided escape. In my house growing up in Salt Lake City, I was taught that voting was a sacred privilege and that you always voted for referendums regarding roads, education and libraries. It was a good thing to learn. And I got a Dubrovnik library card. Cost me $1.65. I can borrow 4 books at a time.
As I said we took a side trip to Bosnia. We rented a car and I became car commander and John was navigator. It really plays to our strengths; I’m not a long distance driver but 3-4 hour I can handle. So we drove to Medjugore, the site of reported visitations of the Blessed Mary. I don’t have any right to try to argue about any one’s religious experience so I take what I want and leave the rest; it was a lovely little town with enough religious fervor to cover everybody. St James Church is kind of the center with lovely gardens and statuary. You would see clusters of people saying the rosary as the Blessed Mother is reported to have directed. It’s a good thing and I am Catholic. When in Medjugore many climb the hill where the visitations took place. This was more than a sweet little wander pilgrimage. This was a boulder and rock strewn mountain that was treacherous! Crowds of people on the same journey trying to not break an ankle. I don’t know about miracles but I do believe that the life journey can be treacherous and that we are all trying not to break an ankle. AMEN!
We then went to Mostar in Bosnia. Another pretty city with a famous bridge that was commissioned by Sulieman the Magnificent during the Ottoman reign. While there we came across an artist who graced us with his version of the War years. The Croats were shelling from atop the mountain where the building tall cross was standing. Like I said these were crazy years. While there we visited a mosque and were able to climb up the 6 floors of steps in the minaret for an outstanding city-wide view. Bosnia was all about climbing.
So what I’ve learned abut Dubrovnik:
There are lots of very tall people here.
Librarians can be heroes and libraries should be supported.
Gelato can be eaten more than once a day—as long as you are climbing.
U.S. highway systems are so much easier to drive at night
Public city transportation is better outside the U.S.