Dubrovnik, named “The Pearl of the Adriatic” by George Bernard Shaw is truly something to behold. My love affair with Dubrovnik started in 1976 with a family trip to that magnificent walled city. It was a trip with the main purpose of introducing my children and myself to Joe’s Croatian family of six siblings, parents, cousins and the entire village. The package I purchased included air fare, a car and two weeks at the Excelsior Hotel. Joe’s village at the time was, for lack of a better word, primitive. There was no running water, electricity was one light bulb hanging out of the ceiling in what served as a kitchen, dining room, living room and family room. This was all in an area of approximately 150 square feet that served a minimum of twelve family members, not counting aunts and uncles and cousins. It was truly culture shock for this only child from a middle class family in New England. Let’s say that at the end of each day, the Excelsior was my sanctuary. We had a corner suite facing the sea and it was spectacular. Three years ago we inquired about that suite when we were in Dubrovnik and that suite rents (in the season) for $1,995 per night. Yes, it was sweet.
Dubrovnik in the evening is beyond magical. The lights reflecting off the water, the shadows from the stone walls, the small alley ways and the sent from a shrub that reminds me of gardenias fills me with memories are so sweet because I was with my mother. Every evening after bath time for the children, Joe would stay with the children and my mother and I would walk into the walled city. We would walk the main pedestrian road, known as the Stradun. We’d also explore the twist and turns through alleyways looking in shop windows. We would then go to the Gradska Kafana ( City Cafe) for a coffee and a piece of one of their famous tortes. We sat on the sea side and watch the boats and the people strolling. Dubrovnik is still like that in the evenings when there are no cruise ships and large bus tours.There are still days that are as they were in 1976 if you are fortunate to be there when there are no ships in port. Little changes when you are in an ancient, walled city.