TRAVEL with pat and lew

Archive for the ‘… Dubrovnik’ Category

* more images of Dubrovnik … the city walls, kids and music everywhere, ringing them bells, pictures of bombing, an island preserve … and a nude beach

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 23, 2011

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It seems to be the consensus that walking the mile or so around the top of the Dubrovnik walls is the main “not to be missed” attraction of Dubrovnik. Accordingly, I set off one late afternoon when the sun was not so fierce. Pat, showing her wisdom, did not join me. The walls were built eons ago, and enhanced in the 1400s  as defense against the Ottoman navy. The views are actually quite nice, both out to sea and looking over the orange roofs of the old town. But halfway around, it got repetitive and I came down.

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What Dubrovnik has more of than anything else is young people. Thousand of young men and women strutting about, enjoying the restaurants and bars, finding each other. It is they who create the wonderful atmosphere that permeates the broad and narrow streets and the beaches. Although slightly older, we felt right at home wandering along amongst them.

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Liza Minnelli sings it as only she can deliver a song … You gotta ring them bells. It’s the story of Shirley Devore from the Upper West Side in Manhattan, 31 and unmarried. She “borrows a thou” and sets off on a European adventure, intent to “haul me home a hus if it’s the last thing I do.” But Shirley strikes out in London, Madrid, Brussels, Majorca and Rome …

so she went to Dubrovnik and the very first day

she met a guy on the beach who took her reason away

The guy, it turns out lived at Five Riverside Drive, apartment 29F, while Shirley lived in the same building at 29E. The moral of the story …

You girls who live in apartments, don’t just stare at the wall

Open up the door and hurry out in the hall

And … ring them bells … swing them, ring them, swing them,

ring them bells!

So we tried it. We went to the beach in Dubrovnik and guess what happened? We each found someone who lives in the same house.

Enjoy Liza’s stirring rendition at … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtJSLZnKCv0

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There’s music all over in Dubrovnik, on all sorts of instruments, including empty liquor bottles. And the Dubrovnik String Quartet playing a selection from Mozart’s Night Music to the Mikado.

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In 1991, Dubrovnik underwent severe bombing attacks. The war with Serbia over the dissolution of Yugoslavia lasted until 1996. In our hotel, the desk clerk said she had four little children and no food, no water. She took their diapers to the sea to wash, and people shot at her. In a narrow alley, there’s an almost unmarked building where we saw the photos and video above.

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Lokrum Island is a ten minute boat ride from the Dubrovnik harbor. There’s an old monastery, hiking trails, beautiful views of a stunningly blue sea, a swimming hole that fills with sea water. You can see how enthusiastic Pat was about the nature all around her.

And, oh, there’s also a nude beach.

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It’s at the far end of the island, and it’s not a beach at all. It’s a collection of more or less flat rocks, high above the sea. We wondered how you could get to the water, and walked to the edge of the rocks, where we saw a ladder. We also saw waves crashing against the rocks, making it very dangerous to get into and out of the water. There were about a dozen people laying on the rocks, some relatively decorously, some not. Several men seemed to be posing at the edge of the rocks, the sea as background, although no photos are allowed and no one seemed to have a sketch pad.

“Once you’re in, the sea is pretty calm,” a lady said. “There’s my husband swimming out there.”

We turned around to face a lovely blond woman standing near us, perhaps in her mid 30s, with a beautiful figure, wearing a necklace of pearls … and nothing else.

There followed the most surreal conversation. She seemed to be an American. There were four children walking about, equally nude, and everyone (except us) seemed quite comfortable.

By the way, you’ll have to take Pat’s word about the pearls. I never saw them.

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It takes a lot to supplant the image of the lady on the beach, but my final impression in Dubrovnik, and my first impression in Paris where we went next, was the lovely lady sitting across from me. It’s really no contest.

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* died defending Dubrovnik … part of a centuries-long, and probably still unresolved, ethnic conflict

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 20, 2011

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There’s a small room on one of the side streets in Dubrovnik dedicated to the memory of those (mostly young men) who died in 1991 or after in the defense of Croatia against the Serbian Bosnian attacks. It is moving to stand there. All the buildings have been reconstructed and the tourists have returned, but the families and the feelings are still not settled.

We asked our waiter in a pizza restaurant where he was from … Bosnia & Herzegovina he says. We ask, “Are the tensions fully subsided?He shakes his hand in a manner that says … not quite. Our waiter at breakfast was a very young child during the fighting. His father fought; he and his mother remained in Dubrovnik, even as many others fled.

I recently read a novel about the refugees from that war and I recommend it … it’s called The Sound of Blue by Holly Payne, set in 1992, in Dubrovnik and in a refugee camp across the Hungarian border. Very moving and enlightening. And I just added another book to my reading list … The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican: The Croatian Massacre of the Serbs During World War II by Vladimir DedijerIt’s a complicated situation that goes back generations and centuries, a situation where the truth is elusive and never unambiguous … not untypical of many ethnic conflicts that have always plagued our world, and continue to do so today.

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* Dubrovnik is spectacular!

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 19, 2011

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Dubrovnik is alive!

And at the same time beautiful and restful. The city is loaded with tourists, including many young people who fill the beaches during the day and the bars at night. Yet there is no sense of over-crowding, and once you move off the main street, the narrow side streets offer many pleasant places to have a glass of Croatian wine or beer, or to eat a fine meal or pizza at a reasonable price. There are plenty of shops with a variety of tourist merchandise and some up scale clothing, and there is a fine book store well stocked with English titles.

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Dubrovnik’s Jews and synagogue

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The Old Synagogue in Dubrovnik is the oldest Sefardic synagogue still in use today in the world and the second oldest synagogue in Europe. It still functions as a place of worship for Holy days and special occasions, but is now mainly a city museum which hosts numerous Jewish ritual items and centuries-old artifacts. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, many of the expelled went east and some eventually settled into the then independent city of Dubrovnik, where there was already a small Jewish community. Many Conversos came to the city.

NOTE: for more about conversos in Spain, see my novel “The Heretic” at …

http://www.amazon.com/Heretic-Lewis-M-Weinstein/dp/1595943242/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1311062422&sr=1-1

In 1546, Dubrovnik officials allocated a Jewish settlement within the city, with the main street being called Ulica Zudioska (“Jewish Street”) in the Dubrovnik Ghetto. When and Dubrovnik was occupied by Napoleon’s forces in 1808, essentially ending Dubrovnik’s centuries of independence, Jews attained legal equality for the first time. However, when the Austrian Empire annexed Dubrovnik in 1814, legal equality was again withdrawn. Jews were again granted legal equality under Croatian law in the mid-late 19th century.

Today, because of the small number of Jews in Dubrovnik, the synagogue does not have its own rabbi.

However, when we visited the synagogue,

there was a Rabbi in residence.

Rabbi Yisrael Karasik had just arrived from Brooklyn with his charming new bride Mushki (from LA). It is Rabbi Karasik’s Chabad mission to bring Jews into greater recognition of their Jewishness. On this day, that meant convincing me to wear tefillin and say the Shema prayer.

Rabbi Karisik and his wife are hosting a regular Friday night Shabbat dinner

at 8:00 pm at the Dubrovnik Hilton.

If you are Jewish and plan to be in Dubrovnik this summer,

this would be a fine addition to your trip.

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Croatia on the Adriatic Sea

a brief historical note

Dubrovnik is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea.  The prosperity of the city of Dubrovnik has always been based on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages, as the Republic of Ragusa, it became the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice.

During World War II, in 1941, Nazi Germany, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria occupied Yugoslavia, redrawing their borders. A new Nazi puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), was created. Many Croats took refuge in the satellite state of Croatia, which became the battleground for a guerrilla war between the Axis and the Yugoslav Partisans. Following the surrender of Italy in 1943, most of Italian-controlled Dalmatia was reverted to Croatian control. After WWII, Dalmatia (including Dubrovnik) became part of the People’s Republic of Croatia, part of the SFR Yugoslavia (then called the Federative People’s Republic of Yugoslavia).

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) was the Yugoslav state under Marshall Tito that existed from the second half of World War II (1943) until it was formally dissolved in 1992. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. Yugoslavia pursued a policy of neutrality after the Tito-Stalin split of 1948.

Rising ethnic nationalism in the late 1980s led to fast dissidence among the multiple ethnic groups within the various republics, followed by recognition of their independence by some European states in 1991. This led to the country collapsing on ethnic lines which were followed by wars fraught with ethnic discrimination and human rights violations.

In 1991 Croatia and Slovenia, which had been republics within Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared their independence. On October 1, 1991 Dubrovnik was attacked. The siege of Dubrovnik  lasted for seven months. The artillery attacks on Dubrovnik damaged 56% of its buildings, as the historic walled city, sustained 650 hits by artillery rounds. Following the end of the war, damage caused by the shelling of the Old Town was repaired. As of 2005, most damage had been repaired.

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