Um, hello? Anyone there? We’re back, well, sort of. I caught a cold the last day we were in Dubrovnik and I’m still sick a week later. It’s turned into a full cough with wheezing and yucky, snotty tissues. I spent the last full day in Italy in bed and had to nix my birthday day in New York over an earlier flight home and my bed. Oh well, you can’t have it all.
On to a happier topic, Dubrovnik. I’ve wanted to go to Croatia and specifically Dubrovnik since I was 20 years old. A family I was living with in Poland went on and on about how amazing it was and sold me on it instantly. They invited me to spend a few weeks with them there at the end of the Summer in 2001 but I had to rush home because of a family emergency. I told myself I’d get there eventually. I even signed up to take Croatian at UW (I was already a Slavic Language major) but then changed my mind when they said I’d have to wait until 2003 to take it. Um, I was graduating in December 2001. Needless to say I never learned Croatian or got my degree in Slavic Languages.
So here is my 30 second history of Dubrovnik. It was known as the Republic of Ragusa in the Middle Ages and was one of the Republic of Venice’s few rivals. It was an relatively independent state under Venice’s sovereignty (darn the Crusades) until Napoleon’s Army conquered it in 1806 at which time it became part of Napoleon’s Kingdom of Italy. Then the Hapsburgs came in and did their thing (not a technical term) for about 100 years until the city became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Of course, World War II came along and so did the Italians and the Nazis. Eventually, General Tito marched in to town and “liberated” the city. I say liberated because he wasn’t into truly liberating anyone. Dubrovnik and the rest of Croatia became part of Communist Yugoslavia. In 1991 Croatia declared it’s independence but unfortunately another General, Milosevic, wasn’t having it and attacked the country and the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. The Siege of Dubrovnik lasted 7 months and heavily damaged the city. Now Croatia is an independent country and Dubrovnik has been rebuilt.
I told you, my 30 second history of the city. It had to be short so you could spend time enjoying the pictures.
After the walk, we had lunch and did something a little unconventional. We skipped the churches, the souvenir shops and the ice cream and went straight for a museum called the War Photo Limited. The museum focuses on wartime photo journalism. I really wanted to go here because of the the featured exhibit by Ron Haviv VII called Blood & Honey. If I remember correctly, Yugoslavia means blood and honey. The exhibit chronicles the war that broke up Yugoslavia. The pictures are amazing and moving and horrifying all at the same time. If you click on the link, you can view the photo essay. Dubrovnik was hit hard by the war. Croatia was hit hard by the war. Our tour guide for Montenegro, Johnny, told me Croatia was lucky because it lost only 25,000 people when Bosnia lost 250,000 people. When is 25,000 dead lucky? We felt like we needed to see this part of Dubrovnik’s history too. The amazing thing is how well the city and the people of Dubrovnik recovered. You’d never know that less than 20 years ago a devastating war took place. The city has rebuilt it’s walls, the tourist have come back and the general atmosphere is warm and carefree.
The exhibits at the War Photo Limited are the best photography exhibits I’ve ever seen. Maybe because the subject matter was so intense, maybe because the pictures we’re taken before digital photography. I can’t tell you why. If you are ever in town or any of their exhibits are touring, you should definitely check it out.
I don’t want to leave you on a sad and depressing note, so check out this special ice cream flavor we encountered when we were looking for a little bit of pick me up.
I wanted to wait around and see if anyone would purchase a scoop of the blue goo but Cecilia and Micah voted to keep the party moving. Judging by the fullness of the tub, I’d say there weren’t many takers.