I don't know what I expected when I thought of Dubrovnik, but nothing prepared me for the beauty and magic of this place. We flew from Zagreb and the last part of the the flight took us down the coastline where barren mountains plunge to the sea with little towns nestled on the coast. Dubrovnik airport is part way up one of those mountains. From the moment we left the plane, I felt I was far from the Eastern European feel of Zagreb and Budapest. This is Mediterranean countryside with a profusion of flowers, palm trees , orange trees and magnificent sea vistas.
We have once again rented an apartment. Our landlord is eager to make us feel welcome - even the attitude of people is more Mediterranean. So once again we are negotiating grocery stores, feeling slightly less like tourists. We are situated on the hill with a lovely terrace where we sit and have breakfast looking out to the Adriatic.
We are not far from the Old Town (about 200 stairs) through pedestrian alleyways and steep staircases. The air around the main staircase is scented with the many flowers that grow nearby. The Old Town is a walled city. Entering the main gate was a jaw-dropping experience. Being in a place that is that old and still a vibrant city is like walking through a time warp - living in two time dimensions simultaneously. Old Dubrovnik is strictly a pedestrian city. The few main streets and squares are paved with marble. The side streets are narrow lanes with stairs leading up to the buildings higher up on the slope. Buildings are very close together. Every turn in Dubrovnik leads to an astonishing view or interesting site.
A town has been on the site since ancient times. By the middle ages it was a thriving trading town. Although some buildings date back to the 1300s, much of the town was rebuilt in the late 1600s after a devastating earthquake. The buildings are all made of limestone with orange tile roofs. The whole of old Dubrovnik is like a giant museum; there is so much to see. We have gone into the cloisters of an old monastery where each column is topped with a different sculpted animal, human or plant. There, too, is an apothecary dating from the 1300s. There is still an operating pharmacy in the building. We have gone into several churches with elaborate altars of marble. Today we visited the synagogue, the second oldest in Europe and the oldest Sephardic that is still being used. - and probably one of the smallest.
No words can really describe this place. We have seen artifacts dating back 1000 years - a sheet of music written in neumes from the 10th or 11th century, a torah scroll dating from the 13th century, pharmacopias from the 1500s and later.... and the list goes on. Glad to say we have a few more days here.