June 20, 2018
The realization hit me as I was standing in front of a reader board in the old city of Dubrovnik, Croatia: this is a country that was at war less than thirty years ago. The reader board described the areas that were shelled in the Siege of Dubrovnik during the War of Independence in the early 90’s, well within our lifetime and our memories.
Even though the siege lasted seven months and damaged or destroyed some 11,000 buildings, there is little evidence of that now. Dubrovnik is considered one of the great walled cities of the world, and its Grad (Old City) is a delightful menagerie of castles, cathedrals, corridors and.....tourists.
With a better understanding of Croatia’s complicated ethnic and political challenges, we shifted our focus to its dramatic coastline and stunning natural wonders. The charming little village of Šipanska Luka was our starting point for exploring the coves and coastline of Šipan Island in the Elaphiti archipelago near Dubrovnik.
On Lokrum Island, a long stone’s throw from Dubrovnik and the place where the HBO series Game of Thrones is filmed, we watched a male peacock perform (unsuccessfully, it seemed) a mating dance for a female, complete with pirouettes and rattling plumage.
Croatians take great pride in their national parks, and rightly so. The crown jewel is Plitvice Lakes, a series of sixteen cascading lakes with hundreds of waterfalls. The lakes and waterfalls formed over centuries as the high mineral content in the emerald-colored water created natural dams of travertine.
Much of our time in-country was spent on a seven-day multi-sport trip that included kayaking, canoeing, river rafting, hiking and bicycling in some of the most beautiful parts of the country. An added treat was a side trip to the city of Mostar in Bosnia, famous for its metal crafts and its Stari Most (Old Bridge), one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture in the region.
These snippets of discovery left us wanting more time to explore other parts of this interesting and lovely country.
To see more images from our all too brief visit to Croatia, click here. And if you missed my images and observations from the other countries on our three-month European trip, you can find them on my Blog page. Perhaps you have even been enticed to visit some of the places we visited. If so, I’m glad to have piqued your interest.