Dubrovnik, Croatia: For a quarter of a century I have maintained a fascination with the walled medieval city of Dubrovnik. In 1986, when the cold war was frosty, I spent a college semester “studying” in Europe and for some obscure reason Dubrovnik and Yugoslavia captured my imagination. Taking advantage of a long weekend, I endured the red-eye train to Zagreb and the Yugoslav national airline JAT for a quick visit to Dubrovnik. The place had a magic to it and I vowed to return some day. After Serbian-Montenegrin forces stupidly and relentlessly shelled Dubrovnik twenty years ago I remembered that vow.
Today before lunch I wheeled into Dubrovnik 25 years after my first visit. As the city came into focus I noted five – five! – cruise ships in the harbor. All those boats emptied passengers into the old town. It was a mob scene. After fighting the ice-cream eating, tour guide following, picture-snapping crowds for a while, I decided that if you can’t beat them, join them. So I spent a good part of the afternoon eating ice cream and hanging out in cafes with thousands of other tourists.
I reconciled to remember Dubrovnik as it was, not as it is.
In trying to remember Dubrovnik circa 1986, before the Serbians got trigger happy and the cruise ships arrived, my memories of the old town are rather vague. What’s most vivid about that 1986 trip was the journey of traveling behind the iron curtain. Recently one of my fellow American cyclists reminded me that as I make my way across the Continent, it’s the journey — not the destination — that matters. My past and present experiences in Dubrovnik certify that.
Speaking of journeys, as I was cycling along the hilly roads of Route 8 this morning, I met a charming Swiss cyclist Daniella, pictured with Ryan the Penguin. We had a good chat and compared notes, then took pictures of each other. She’s heading to Istanbul too, via Sarajevo and Bulgaria. I have met a few long distance cyclists in Croatia, including a French couple that pedaled all the way from Bangkok. That put my little bike ride into perspective.
There’s about 40 kilometers of Croatian road left as I continue my southward push. Tomorrow I enter Montenegro.
Day 64: Neum, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Dubrovnik, Croatia
Distance: 61.47 kilometers
Ascent: 468 meters
TransEuropa 2011 Trip Summary:
Distance: 4,437.29 kilometers
Ascent: 31,744 meters
Countries: 11: Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Incidents: 4: flat tires on Days 45, 53 and 56; police reprimand on Day 2