When I woke up in the morning of the 4th day I was still under the impression of the 3rd day. I could see before my eyes the stillness of the bay of Kotor while the sun was setting behind the mountains. I was drinking my coffee, under the shadow of a very old olive tree in the garden of the villa where were staying. The sparrows were having their morning quarrel, tree kittens were playing behind a hydrangea bush which was proudly exposing its impressive clusters of color. Two turtles were leaving rapidly the hydrangea bush protective shadow visibly annoyed by the kittens play, searching for another shadowing and quite place, preferably with no kittens around.
I was smiling, the grief for the loss of my friend Darius almost dissipated and I remained contemplating that scene until I realized that it is a new day, and we should hop on the car and head to our new destination, Dubrovnik in Croatia.
The route we have chosen to Dubrovnik went along the coastline allowing us to see how the shoreline looks like North of Budva. The road reaches the entrance on the bay of Kotor and to be able to continue we had to take the ferry from Lepetane to Kamenari. The crossing is very swift and well organized, it takes roughly 10 minutes being free for those on foot and costs 4.5 euros per car. When we were crossing we could see the cruise ship which was docked in Kotor marina with a day before leaving the fjord to some other destination.
Returned on land, our next stop on the way to Dubrovnik was Herceg Novi. Although it is not as old as Kotor, Herceg Novi has also a tumultuous past. It was passed from one empire to another which is not really a surprise considering the fact that the entire Balkan was the playground for Europe`s empires and influences of any kind.
With all its tough past, Herceg Novi does not let anything from it to transpire in its appearance. The Italian-style architecture and the palm trees make you think that you might be in some forgotten, quiet, sunbathed town on the coast of Mediterranean. If you assuming this you are not too far from the truth…although is not Italy, but Montenegro.
The sun was merciless so we turned desperately to the most delicious remedy for the heat..the ice cream..Hmmm…the fruity flavor still lingers in my memories and somehow I am connecting that with the walled old city in which we were looking for a shadowed corner where we could delight our taste buds and sank our eyes into dreaming…
All good things come to an end, though, so did the ice cream. Deeply sadden, not being able to understand how such a large amount of ice cream can disappear so sudden..we were back on the road, on our way to Dubrovnik…
One border crossed after and we were knocking on the big gates of Dubrovnik.Actually, we were chasing for a parking spot so we can leave our trusted companion the Audi to rest under the shadow. Turned out, that looking for a parking spot closer to the old city in a full season is similar with looking for the holy grail. When you do find it, you realize if so bloody expensive and you have to pay it using the local currency which is not the currency you might have in your wallet…
Mesmerized by the impressiveness of the old city ramparts we decided to ignore the overpriced parking spot, dump the car and enter the city through the main gate. After all, we decided to be queens for a day …and that day begun at the gates of Dubrovnik old city…
The sun was so generous in sharing its heat with us the mortals, so, once again we fell into the luring arms of the delicious temptress…the ice cream… Ohh…it was such a sweet surrender, and as queen, as we were, watching the calories consumption, was not on the agenda that day.
We were already sunk into narrow old streets when we suddenly realized that probably it would be better if we go on the closest beach, stay there till the heat is calming down and cool off in the sea waters, which, by the way, were pretty cold, and then return and visit the city properly.
The idea was voted unanimously, I was longing for a dunk in those cold waters, with this heat I was not even bothered anymore that the waters were kind of cold, it was a real bless…We spent most of the time swimming in the cooling waters…which was so soothing in that heat. Ignoring the amount of white pebbles, like the one on Lefkada beaches, we were enjoying the crystal clear waters.
When the heat dropped down a notch we returned to the old town gates. The streets were filled with people, and once again all the languages could be heard. Dubrovnik it is highly touristic, the town ramparts were used to shot scenes for “Games of Thrones“ movie, being set as the location of King`s Landing.
According to the new findings seems that Dubrovnik was founded by Greek sailors sometimes in the common era. It was under the rule of Byzantines and then fell under the Ostrogoth rule. After the crusades came under the sovereignty of Republic of Venice and in 1358 being one of the vassal states under the Kingdom of Hungary.
From the 14th century to 1804 it was a free state although it paid tribute to the Ottoman Empire. Dubrovnik or Kingdom of Ragusa it was prosperous and a maritime force allied with Ancona being a prominent rival to the Republic of Venice. The slave trade was abolished in the 15th century and the liberty was highly valued, that`s why the ships were sailing having a white flag with the word “Libertas“ written on it. Probably this value for freedom was the reason why the Jewish people fleeing the Spanish or Portuguese persecutions were settling here in the 15th century.
During daytime, the entire city looks like being melted down by the heat, the light it is intensified by the surrounding limestone walls. Walking within those big ramparts surrounding the city one might think like being isolated by the outside influences.
That the sole rulers over the city might be the sun, sea and Libertas. But thick walls are not enough to isolate yourself from outside influences, and same as other places in Europe Dubrovnik knew the horrors of wars passing by. Wars were coming and going, but the city survived…
The spirit of Libertas it is still very much present, as today Dubrovnik, it is a vibrant city. Cultural events are taking place all the time, concerts, theaters are performing their plays on the city`s piazzas enabling the millions of tourist visiting Dubrovnik to take with them not only pictures of a beautiful maritime old city but also the spirit of Libertas.
I liked the city and the atmosphere and I was surprised by the exquisite traditional jewelry I saw there. I love silver jewelry with ethnic influences and for me it was unexpecting to see that the traditional jewelry in Dubrovnik were intricate filigree same as the jewelry I saw in Old Jaffa, Israel.
I almost thought that instead of being in a silver workshop in Dubrovnik I was in Jaffa, in the Yemenite silver workshop, I visited there. My eyes were caught in the filigree wave and it seems that those intricate patterns were carrying centuries of history in them…That jewelry were speaking for themselves and with a glance, I understood the story of this city.
The visit was short, too short. To comprehend centuries of history and mentalities is not possible in few hours…We left when the sun was setting because the day was coming to an end and we had a long way ahead of us.
I kept looking back how Dubrovnik was covered by a purple light at the beginning and all the city lights were blinking…Little by little shadows were cast and darkness was embracing the city walls. The sea was so calm guarding the entrances. From far Dubrovnik was sending a “Farewell“….“Farewell to you too“ I responded to the city…“I am not promising that I will be back..who knows where life will take me?..But I can promise to keep you alive in my memories“…
We were back on the road speeding towards the end of 4th day. Dubrovnik remained back there under the cover of the night and we were heading towards a new day….