Dubrovnik, Croatia

Ah, Dubrovnik, about which another equally important Shaw (George Bernard) once said, “if you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik”. The Shavian sentiment is pretty right on; Dubrovnik really is the Pearl of the Adriatic. It’s this beautiful city on a little point of land, surrounded by mountains and ocean. The Old Town (or Stari Grad — every town seems to have a Stari Grad, those are now two of the only words I know in the various South Slavic languages, along with Hvala (thank you), Pivo (beer), and Most (bridge)) has these awesome medieval defensive walls which surround the city. They’re massive; the best, most extensive city walls I’ve seen anywhere. You can walk around the whole town just on the walls. There are lots of stairs involved, but the views are incredible. The town itself is very pretty, and relaxed. I think I’d probably like it even more if I hadnt been seeing amazing Stari Grads for the past 2 weeks. Outside of the Old Town, there’s a beautifully forrested penninsula where most of the hotels, and my hostel, are located. There’s way more vegetation here than I’ve seen in the rest of Croatia. There are stray cats everywhere, with kittens. And in the evening there are thousands of swallows in the air.

I learned a new word — the city-state of Dubrovnik was a Thalassocracy, which means its realms were primarily marine, like Venice. I guess it’s always been a center of liberalism and acceptance. It was the first state to recognise the independence of the United States, back in the day. There’s some trivia for you.

Seeing the city now, it’s really difficult to believe that just 10 years ago it was being shelled by the Serbs. Its been repaired really well. There are maps up here and there of where all the shells fell, and judging from them most of the city took damage. And there are a few places, like in the Franciscan monastery, where they have encased the holes in the wall from missile impacts in plexiglass, as a reminder.

Ive been eating pretty well on this trip, in general. I go to nice restaurants like the international jet-setter I am. I eat multiple courses and everything. One thing that’s amazed me is that since I’ve been in Croatia I havnt seen a single American fast-food chain. No McDonalds or anything else. They existed in Slovenia, and every other european country Ive been to, but not here. What they do have, is Pizza. Literally two thirds of the restaurants are pizza places. Croatians must really love pizza. And they’re weird because everyone gets an individual pizza, which are about the size of a medium in America (decently big), which you’re expected to eat all yourself. Very thin crust, though, so its not too much to eat. And, of course, nobody eats pizza with their hands (something which I make a point of doing, just to show everyone whats up). And they like big pieces of ham on their pizzas. And if you order salami (the concept of pepperoni doesnt even exist), you get exactly 8 pieces of salami — one per slice. Its almost the same, but just different enough to be weird. I wonder what Croatians think when they come to america… And as long as I’m talking cuisine, the Budwieser of Croatia is Karlovačko (or maybe OjuÅ¡ko). And the Budweiser of Slovenia is Union Pivo. whoop, outta time. gotta go

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  1. Ian
    May 2nd, 2005at12:18 pm

    This photo feature adds a whole new element to the blog but I’m not sure you’re realizing its full potential.
    I’m thinking…”Eastern European Girls Gone Wild – Taylor-style!” If it worked for Snoop, it’ll work for you.
    This has “can’t miss” written on it like nothing since that siegfried and roy animated tiger cartoon on NBC.
    Anyways, as a devoted reader, I’d like to see more photos of you in front of the random architectural flourishes you seem to delight in photographing.
    Aside from that, I’m enjoying reading about the trip. One of my friends did a similar eastern european jaunt a few years ago and all he could talk about were the amazing city walls, so its good to know he’s not a liar.
    Finally, re:the beard discussion of a few days ago. The NY Times ran a style article about how beards are in with the rebellious post-punk, sophisticated set. In case you have a minute, here’s the link.


  2. taylor
    May 3rd, 2005at4:01 am

    Nice article. I am so uber-hip. I consider myself an international ambassador for current american trends. I like how the article sites a study linking longer beards with “masculinity, dominance, self-confidence, nonconformity and liberalism”. That’s what I’m going for. Actually, this is more what I’m going for: http://www.worldbeardchampionships.com/

  3. Lidija Vrabac
    May 3rd, 2005at5:01 am


    I accidentally clicked on your page and was surprised to see such beautiful pictures, because my brother and I are actually going to spend summer in Mljet this year. I’m really excited, as I’ve only remember Dubrovnik from my childhood.

    And I guess George Bernard was right by saying that one ought to visit the Dalmatian coast to see heaven on earth. Thank you for the great post! Keep us updated!

  4. Megan
    May 3rd, 2005at6:55 am

    How did you decide to go to all these places Taylor? Seems like a great trip and it is incredible to read about. What drew you to these particular places?

    And if you are going to be our cultural ambassador, my vote is that you lose the beard. But I’ve been wrong about beards before. I was highly dubious of Ian’s beard and it turned out to be a pretty good idea.

    Thanks so much for letting us share your trip.

  5. May 3rd, 2005at2:49 pm

    Hey Taylor, I’ve been reading about your trip and really enjoying it. You have a nice, easy way with words, and a nice way of mixing useful and interesting information in with irreverent humor. Keep it up!

    One thing: consider adding an “Archives” link on the side bar, which will make it a lot easier for people to go back and read the older stuff.

    In Typepad, go to the Design panel, and then click the “Content” link. Check the “Archive Links” item under “Sidebar content.”

  6. taylor
    May 6th, 2005at7:17 am

    Thanks for the archives suggestion! That does really make it easier to navigate.

    As for how I decided to go these places, megan.. I don’t know, mostly I’m just playing it by ear, talking to other people about where they’ve been. The Croatian Coast was a place I had to skip on my last trip to europe, which I always wanted to make it back to. But currently I dont know where I’ll be after tomorrow, which is kind of fun. I guess my guiding principle is that, as long as I’m traveling alone, I might as well go to some of the places which would be difficult to convince other people to go to with me. “hey lets go to belgrade then skopje” doesnt work on many people, i think.


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