Day 13: Exploring Dubrovnik
Today we acted like normal tourists in one of the world tourist destinations of choice – the old town of Dubrovnik. So much has been written about the old town that there is little extra to say but once again the photos can do the talking. We started with a walk around the city walls in the morning cool that was just superb.
The old town shows signs all over of being shelled and besieged – not just in the middle ages, the battles for Venetian control in the period 1500 to 1700 but as recently as the 1990s when it came under sustained attack from the Yugoslav and Montenegrin armies.
We took the cable car up to the Napoleonic fort that dominates the skyline above the town and saw the museum to the Homeland War of 1991 to 1995. Complex politics following the death of Tito, the fall of communism and the falling apart of a country that was moulded more by the political will of an individual, Tito, than ethnic or cultural ties. Seeing video footage of news reports showing the walls and old town being bombed when we had been walking round the same walls a couple of hours earlier was really affecting.
The devastation of the old city was a tragedy but the rebuilding has been astonishing. The multitude of new roofs built in the old style was obvious when you look for it and pock marking still obvious on the outside walls of the cathedral although inside you would never guess it.
Tomorrow we visit Montenegro and will, no doubt, see the other side of the story but here it was all painted as Serb aggression against Croat defence. However it was clear that the EU washed its hands of the conflict possibly for the justifiable fear that anything that it did to intervene in hundreds of years of deep seated ethic conflict would only have made things worse. Who knows – history cannot be rewritten but today the guide book says that nationality is less important to people then ethnicity.
We finished the day with a simple meal in a little bistro tucked under the highest parts of the city walls where the crowds were fewer and the air a bit fresher. We had both enjoyed the day but feel ready to move on tomorrow into a new phase of our trip.