- Peggy Simonsen
My adventures continue!
“Don’t wait. The timing will never be "just right," and now is as good a time as any to get to work on chasing your dreams.” Napoleon Hill
My first international travel in 16 months was a previously postponed trip to the Balkans. After a multi-segment plane trip of 18 hours, I landed in Dubrovnik, on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Known as a busy summer beach town, we were there in November with no crowds at all. Over the centuries, Dubrovnik was ruled by the Byzantine, Venetian and the Austro-Hungarian empires. Its 12th century wall that encircles the city provides a magnificent view of the Adriatic Sea, the harbor and any approaching enemies from land or sea. The streets of the city are winding, narrow, cobblestones with no room for cars. After World War I, it became part of Yugoslavia, a composite of ethnic Serbs, Croatians, Slavs, Montenegrins, Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Yugoslavia was held together under Josip Tito, a dictator who used a combination of cruelty and benevolence.
We talked to several people who survived the war of the 1990s that occurred after the breakup of Yugoslavia as each ethnic group wanted independence from Serbia. Dubrovnik was under siege for four years, with no electricity, water, and a severe shortage of food. Our guide was a little girl then and managed to escape to live with her grandmother in the Croatian countryside. She showed us her house where her parents still live, that was bombed but restored. The walled city was severely damaged, but has rebuilt remarkably, with the beautiful red-tiled roofs and cobblestone streets and the wall intact for the view now, not protection. I learned that you can tell the difference between the old tile roofs and the new because the old ones were created by pressing the red clay around the craftsman’s thigh. The new tiles are of course, machine made.
The people are Croatia, friendly but fiercely independent and proud to live in Dubrovnik. (More on other parts of Croatia and the countries of former Yugoslavia in future blog posts.)