Wednesday, May 17, 2006

from Dubrovnik: like a swallow

One writer noted this about Dubrovnik: if they were to design a Hollywood set that looked like this, everyone would think it to be fantastically unreal. Dubrovnik, in fact, looks unreal.

But it’s not. It is as real now as it was when the wall around it first went up more than 1000 years ago.

Walking the walls of Dubrovnik, climbing up at a gate and then walking the whole circumference. Hey there, Dubrovnik, I have looked at you from all sides, I have circled you like a swallow. You are stunning!

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from the wall

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old chimneys, new roofs

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from the wall

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Ocean author, on the wall

A walled, car-less city that sparkles. It is Venice in that its survival (and demise?) depends on the tourist credit card. It is unlike Venice in that it is immaculate. A street made of marble stone, cream houses, many with new shingles (because the old ones were shelled during the war of ’91-’92), flowers in stone crevices, blue waters with visible pebbles at the bottom and fish throughout.

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just outside the wall, an inlet

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A young man scales the Dubrovnik walls and collects the plastic bottles that tourists tend to toss during their walk along the walls. Croats do their work well. But rarely do I see them crack a smile. I am beginning to think that history has given them too little to laugh about.

A break, I need a cappucino break. With a slice of cheese strudel. Followed by a quiet moment, studying a well placed orange tree inside a Franciscan monastery.

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At dusk you have two choices: to sit down for some serious people watching or to be watched yourself. I choose the former. An aperitif out on the marble street. Colors of cream and orange again. I pay, leave a tip, always on the high end, I am sure of it, because there is always a look of surprise. Is that a good thing? Man, those Americans just throw their money around. Or: man, those Americans are cheap. Both are probably true. We tip well at home. Less so here. It seems we can't figure it out. Foreign customs are like foreign currencies. They confuse us. Best to stay home, tend to your own backyard. It's comfortably clear there.

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campari based "summer festival"

The swallows use the long straight street as an aerial highway. They swoop down and fly away, quickly, quickly, only to return, sometimes in teams, sometimes alone. I'm remembering the small tattoo on my back. A swallow, poised upwards, in flight.

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