Dubrovnik


Oct 21 2009

Slaloming Down Stradun

Stradun - photo by Lisa

Stradun - photo by Lisa

Most people don’t realize that while the old town of Dubrovnik is quite small, navigating the pedestrian-only main street, Stradun, can take anywhere from three minutes to seven hours. The street is only about 300 meters long.  If you are on Stradun the diversions are apparent,  yet still, doing the three minute tour is difficult to accomplish.

You have to treat Stradun like ski slope.

The first step is to take a minute at the top of Stradun to survey the situation. The main impediment is the crowds.  (It has become a local pastime to complain about the crowds. Either too many crowds are ruining the ambiance or a lack of crowds is ruining business.)

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Aug 18 2009

An Irreverent Curiosity and a Diaper Box

Published by under Book Reviews,Travel

An Irreverent Curiosity--by David Farley

An Irreverent Curiosity--by David Farley

If you go to the treasury in the main cathedral in Dubrovnik, Croatia, you can find some very curious religious relics; for instance, the head of Dubrovnik’s patron saint, St. Blaise, as well as his arm, leg, and throat. You might also come across a piece of the true cross and what I thought was the weirdest “treasure” ever, a silver box that holds Jesus’ diapers. No one really believes me when I tell them that the diaper box exists and you can pay a couple of bucks to see it, but since you can’t take photographs in the treasury, I have no proof.

I kind of forgot about the diaper box until I read my new favorite book, An Irreverent Curiosity by David Farley. Simply put, the book is about Farley’s year in Calcuta, Italy. This small medieval hilltop town might possibly be home to some of the most colorful residents in the whole of Italy and certainly is worth a book unto itself. However, even stranger is Farley’s quest: to discover what happened to the village’s most precious relic – The Holy Foreskin. The Holy Foreskin was the treasure of the village and in 1982 it mysteriously disappeared. Everyone seems to have their theories, but no one knows for sure about the authenticity and the location of the item. And after reading the book, I am a bit more curious about the strange world of relics. (Confession: as I am writing this a priest sat down next to me and now I feel really weird.)

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Aug 14 2009

Under the Adriatic Sun

Published by under Travel

Time Out Croatia

Time Out Croatia

I have been in Dubrovnik, Croatia for a little more than a week and I am starting to feel very guilty. I have slipped into a dangerous daily pattern and I can’t seem to get out of it.

In the morning I start out with a list of things to do that day. Maybe it is a selection of places to see, maybe it is going to the bank, maybe it is going out to a shopping center to get some necessities, or maybe it is as simple as trying to find the mythical laundromat that people mention (despite the fact that no one seems to know where it is located). But first I have to find a free table at one of the cafes and have my first coffee of the day. This is where the first symptoms of the condition start to appear.

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Jan 01 2009

New Year’s Resolution: Read “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon”

Published by under Book Reviews

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon -by Rebecca West

I have a confession: I have never completely read Rebecca West’s magnum opus Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. I am sure that this is not a big deal to most people, but I am a self-proclaimed Balkan junkie. If you have ever been in the store looking at the Croatia section, you have probably been subjected to hearing about my love of Dubrovnik, my favorite restaurants, the pros and cons of each guide book to the area, and the results of my extensive research on where to get the best and cheapest ice cream. I have read practically everything that I can get my hands on, except for what is considered to be the defining travelogue of the area.

My history with the book is long. I have lugged it across the Atlantic six times. I have started it about five times. It has a pretty cover, or did: during its sixth trip to Croatia it served as my night stand. Continue Reading »

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Aug 15 2008

Macedonia Will Just Have To Wait – Dubrovnik Delights

Published by under Travel

Dubrovnik--photo by Lisa

Dubrovnik--photo by Lisa

If I was following my carefully planned, ambitious itinerary, I would currently be writing a blog raving about the beautiful Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. Instead I find myself waiting with impatience to see my favorite Croatian rock band, LET 3, perform tonight in Dubrovnik. The night before I was supposed to go to Macedonia via Albania, I had a revelation. August is not the best time to spend most of the week using public transportation throughout the Balkans. (If you want to read an interesting description, try the Macedonia Tourist Board‘s public transportation page.) Instead some of my new friends and I decided that August was a great time to stay in Dubrovnik! Five weeks is a long time to stay in this town and some of my colleagues have started to get a bit restless. There are only a few blockbuster tourist sites, it is often overrun with tourists that swarm the old town when cruise ships come into port, it is trendy and has therefore become expensive, and it is a bit small. But I am still awestruck by its beauty.

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Aug 06 2008

Montenegro Has a Fjord!

Montenegro Has A Fjord!--photo by Lisa

Montenegro Has A Fjord!--photo by Lisa

I am constantly asked why I am trying to speak Croatian/Bosnian/Serbian. Most people assume that I have some relative that came from the area and I am trying to reconnect with my heritage. There is always some confusion when I explain that my grandparents were from Norway and being Norwegian and having black hair are not mutually exclusive properties. Most of the my fellow students have Croatian or Bosnian background and I must admit sometimes I get a bit jealous when they reminisce about growing up with the foods, playing Tamburi (folk music), visiting various cousins in the area, and all the colorful swear words that they learned from some uncle.

Then I always begin to feel a bit guilty about neglecting my “homeland.” I am a bad Norwegian.

I speak a total of ten Norwegian words and none of them are swear words. I have never met any of my cousins, nor have I visited the small, isolated village where Grandpa was born. I hate lutefisk and I have never successfully made krumkake.
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Aug 01 2008

Red or White? (Dilemma in Dubrovnik)

Published by under Travel

Time Out Croatia

Time Out Croatia

Ok, so I think that I lied a little bit in my last post. Not everything is the same in Dubrovnik, and I am discovering  tons of new things. Being a dedicated red wine drinker, I actively search out new places to drink wine and justify my indulgences by convincing myself that my Croatian skills vastly improve after a few glasses of a local wine.  One of my brand new haunts is a new wine bar, D’vino. This cleverly named bar (vino is wine, D’vino roughly translates as wonderful) is brand new and one of the few places to offer not only a wide selection of Croatian wines, but also a huge selection of wine from around the world. It is tucked away on a small side street in the old town. The prices are a bit steep, but it is a classy alternative to the other bars in town. Although it has only been open for a month, it has already become a regular for expats, locals, and tourists that are interested in sampling some of Croatia’s wines.

According to Time out Croatia, one of my favorite guidebooks for the country, Croatia has a long tradition of producing wines (both red and white) that goes back to the Roman times. The most famous are Dingac, Plavac, Prosek, and Babic. Most of these are grown along Croatia’s stunning coastline on Peljesac peninsula which quickly became a popular day trip from Dubrovnik.  Wine tours are becoming popular, but there is a lot of room for growth.

In the meantime I am just enjoying researching the vast world of Balkan wines.

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Jul 27 2008

Lazy Days in Dubrovnik

Published by under News,Travel

Dubrovnik Bradt Guide

Dubrovnik Bradt Guide

I have been in Dubrovnik for almost a week and have successfully sunk into a daily pattern. I have a lot of free time as I only have four hours of class a day, giving me plenty of time to explore every nook and cranny of the old town. The old town of Dubrovnik is actually quite small, and I have spent many summers exploring it, so I feel very much at home and have become a familiar face. Every summer it seems like not much has changed from the last.

People are still strolling or strutting down the main street enjoying ice cream. The cafes are jammed with locals and tourists reading the newspapers, gossiping, and nursing their coffees. Others are just hanging out watching the spectacle. After a while all of the nights start to seem the same, so I am always happy when I stumble upon a new place.

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