|A bird's eye view|
Croatia may be the newest member of the European Union, but her history runs deep. Dubrovnik is located on the Adriatic Sea at the southern end of the fabled Dalmatian Coast. (The old town is actually located atop the sea with the ebb and flow of the sea affecting her stability). Since 1979 the walled city has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and as such receives millions of visitors each year. The city has a long and varied past. Her modern history is tragic. A part of former Yugoslav Republic, the city was bombed in 1991 by Serb-Montenegrin forces and suffered significant damage before being liberated the following year by the Croatian Army. (A solemn museum inside the city pays homage to the young men who lost their lives during this modern war). The city was first settled in the 7th Century then later came under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. During the 11th Century Dubrovnik fell under the sovereignty of Venice and the Venetian influences are readily apparent today. After the Venetians came the Ottomans then Napoleon's Army followed by the Austria-Hungarian Empire before finally becoming a part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. From ancient Byzantine churches to marbled alleys the past is still alive in Dubrovnik. Yet the city is quite modern.
|The view from the water|
|The marbled streets in the pre-dawn hours|
But some things don't change regardless of the amount of people there. The old city is just plain beautiful. Whether viewed in the early morning light, the blazing midday sun, or after dark Dubrovnik is breathtaking. The pedestrian-only white marble streets and alley ways of Stari Grad are a maze of dead end paths providing the perfect opportunity for the three little boys in our group to run, explore, and chase pigeons to their heart's content. Yes there were crowds but knowing that they weren't in danger of getting run down by a scooter or speeding car made gave all of the parents in a group a sense of relief. Inside the city walls are numerous shops, restaurants, and outdoor cafes so
|Every time I see this I think of a pirate's lair|
As our days in Tirana wind down, I realize that opportunities like this are indeed numbered. We've visited many places over the past two years but very few compare to the beauty of Dubrovnik. Perhaps that is why it is one of the few places we've returned to again and again. And because we enjoy it so much, it is likely that we will return here yet again long after we've moved out of the Balkans. I just can't get enough of it.