Jeanne, Bob, Burt and I wanted to go on a brief exotic trip together. When I consulted the Travel Agency at Dayton’s, the woman suggested this one week trip to Yugoslavia. We had a choice between staying in Dubrovnik and being provided with a hotel room, or getting a rented car and driving around on our own, eventually ending in Belgrade. It sounded intriguing so we decided to go.
We flew to Belgrade, Yugoslavia. While we were transferring in New York, in the airport a Yugoslav woman (going on our flight) saw that Burt had a paper cup of water. She told him that she needed to take some pills and asked if she could she drink a little of his water—-she would give the rest back to him! He accommodated her and didn’t let her see him discarding the remaining water.
In Belgrade we learned that we had a four-hour layover before our plane went to Dubrovnik, so Burt went outside the airport and engaged a taxi that we could hire to take us around to see something of Belgrade. The taxi driver spoke no English, but did speak a little German. Both Bob and I had taken some German in school and knew a few words—-enough so we could understand each other a little bit, anyway.
The most striking thing about Belgrade were the huge Soviet-style apartment blocks. We drove past many of them. Typically the landscaping around them was pretty minimal and they looked pretty bleak, although the overcast misty weather didn’t help.
We passed the Parliament building, which couldn’t be mistaken for much else, although one wonders what powers the Parliament has with Marshall Tito running the show.
The next landmark was St. George’s Church, where we stopped to peek inside It had wonderful murals covering the whole interior, including the ceiling..
Again, more apartment blocks!
Late in the day we returned to the airport to fly to Dubrovnik on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
When we arrived we continued to encounter rainy, misty weather but the city of Dubrovnik was so beautiful with all that polished stone
glistening in the wet, that we didn’t mind. What an historic city.
We visited a Franciscan Monastery with its slender columns and beautiful gardens. This building was begun in 1317.
We walked down the Placa toward the Clock Tower, admiring the many beautiful historic buildings along the way. The tower is 31 meters high and has the phases of the moon on its face.
We enjoyed seeing St. Blaise’s Church, built in 1715, a beautiful, small, ornate church.
Just in front of it is Orlando’s Column, (Rolland’s Column) built in 1418. For a long time the forearm of Roland’s was the unit of measure in Dubrovnik. One ell of Dubrovnik equals 51.2 cm.
We spent some time on the Placa, under the portals, which kept us a bit dry.
Everywhere we looked we relished wonderful old buildings.
Further down the street we observed the 16th Century Sponza Palace which was a beautiful landmark, now used for the National Archives.
We had a lovely dinner of mixed grill in an atmospheric restaurant. All of Dubrovnik was so historical, and laden with the past. The origin of the city goes back to at least the 7th Century, but further excavations have dated it to very far back in antiquity, to the age of the Greeks.
One thing we noticed and were astounded at was the amount of smoking among the Yugoslavs. Bars and restaurants would be totally blue with cigarette smoke. And the people were so tall! We felt like coughing midgets with all that smoke among all those tall people!
Later, after dark we walked down the Placa again, this time enjoying the mist on the gleaming stones. The light on the stone street and buildings made the evening unforgettable.
Moving on the next day, we drove along the Adriatic Sea up the coast to Split, a city that was robust in Roman times.
The centerpiece of this city is Diocletian’s Palace, which he had built for his retirement in 305 AD. It’s huge—an irregular rectangle about 600 feet by 500 feet. Many houses and shops have been built within the palace, but it still retains much of the original and is quite stunning.
This is the East Gate (Silver Gate) of the complex.
Diocletian decorated some of the temples with Egyptian granite sphinx—-these statues are 3600 years old!
Through the north gate one gets a view of a 10th century statue by Mestrovic. The subject is Gregarious of Nin, a bishop who fought for the right to hold mass in the Croatian language.
The weather continued quite misty but luckily we were not treated to any downpours so our exploring went on in good stead.
The west gate offered additional sights of Diocletian’s Palace.
Diocletian’s Palace was certainly one of the highlights of our trip. To think how old it was and yet how well preserved!
We will be driving inland tomorrow toward Mostar, following the Neretva River.