Friday, April 30, 2010

Dubrovnik, Croatia: Not Quite as High Above

There's your Dubrovnik for ya.
Same Dubrovnik. Same me. Different cliff-top viewpoint. The eyes are shut here not as part of some mystic, prayer-like ritual, but because I'm staring directly into the morning sun.

Dubrovnik, Croatia: High Above

My acrophobia was kicking in big time when we took this picture this morning. This is from atop a hillside overlooking Stari Grad, Dubrovnik, Croatia. The Ploce Gate and the harbor is on the left, and the Pile Gate is over my right shoulder.

Dubrovnik, Croatia: Street Scenes

Scenes from Stari Grad, the Old City sector of Dubrovnik. (I'm up knowing about to about seven words of Croatian. And Stari ("old") and grad ("city") be two.)
From top to bottom:
(1) The small craft harbor outside the Ploce Gate of Dubrovnik. This used to be "the" harbor, bt times (and ship bottoms) change. Now, the big cruise ships dock out in the water and land their troops with numerous small ships. The Jadrolina ferries that ply the coast dock on the west side, in a suburban area named Gruz.
(2) The harbor, shot from a concrete pier, so that I'm facing the walls of Stari Grad. (Accidentally reposted and I don't know how to edit these posts.)
(3) A cannon that used to defend the city. Now it merely decorates it.
(4) Orlando's Fountain, outside the Pile (PEE-luh) Gate, the west side entrance into Stari Grad. I think the water coming out of the fountain might be drinkable. At least I saw someone drink from it confidently. And I think that might have been the historic purpose of this fountain. Sort of like those little "Water Mills" kiosks you see all over Las Vegas. Only historic.
(5) The cathedral. It contains relics of St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik. Interestingly, St. Blaise's Cathedral is a block away and contains no S. Blaise relics. (For you Catholics who keep up on your saints, he's also the February 3 annual blessing of the throats saint.)
(6) And we end with the door to my apartment building. This really is the way to see Dubrovnik. From within the walls of the Stari Grad. Yes, it's touristy. And, yes, I'm a tourist. But there's a charm to the place to the transcends that. It is clean. There a few small discreet trashcans about, and people use them. There are plenty of dogs and cats (only the cats run loose, for the most part), but no feces! And there's ice cream aplenty. Tonight's flavor: coconut.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dubrovnik, Croatia: Where I Lay My Head

This is a picture from inside the apartment I've rented for the three nights in Dubrovnik. Simple, functional, and a great location right beside the main Cathedral. See that bed? After 20 hours of flight time, with very little sleep, and landing at Dubrovnik at a time that would be 7:30AM in Las Vegas, that bed is calling my name. LOUDLY. Good night from Dubrovnik, a.k.a., the Republic of Ragusa.
(No that was not a "Laverne & Shirley" reference. Wikipedia it yourself. I'm too spent.)

Dubrovnik, Croatia: The Stradun

This is the Stradun. It is the main pedestrian mall in the Old City section of Dubrovnik. The part of Dubrovnik within the old walls is car-free, pedestrian only. If this were the heighth of tourist season, the Stradun would be elbow-to-elbow. This is definitely a tourist town. Euro-tourists. I was speaking with a couple from England at dinner, who also were talking to a large table of Austrians (as opposed to a table of large Austrians, although, that too would have been accurate). I took a picture of a couple from the Ukraine. I hear all sorts of languages on the streets, only one of which I've thus far recognized (English).
I had dinner at the Moby Dick. In Dubrovnik. I was reading a biography of Herman Melville on the plane trip across the Atlantic -- yes, seriously, my lack of having a life has reached that point -- so I thought that restaurant would be good. I had fish. And when I say "fish," I mean the waiter brought over a platter of freshly caught dead fish and I selected the particular fellow on whom I would be dining. He said the fish was a "sole flounder." I guess the breed name got lost in translation. For dessert, I had a tasty lemon ice cream from an ice cream/gelato shop on the Stradun. Apparently strolling the Stradun with an ice cream in hand is THE thing to do for an evening's entertainment in the Old City. I got no problem with that.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, Day One

I have arrived in Dubrovnik. And it is beautiful, although it does look an awful lot like California. If California had been built in the 1200's. But, even better, it apparently has glass bottom boat tours a la mid 1960's Florida. Am I the only one who remembers seeing Doris Day and Arthur Godfrey in the movie "Glass Bottom Boat"?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The OCD post, Part I (more to follow)

Those of you who do not have O.C.D. will not understand this. But those of you who do, will totally understand. Y'know that when you leave home, you (meaning, "I") obsess over forgetting to lock the front door or something. Right now, I'm obsessed with the thought that I fogot to ...

Turn off the garbage disposal.

Yes, like that is soooo easy to not notice. O.C.D. is a cruel mistress.

McCarran Airport D-Gates

The warm glow of vacation is already washing over me.
The glow started glowing when I checked my one (large) bag and I realized that the next time I will see Big Green, I will be in Dubrovnik. Croatia. I've been obsessing on this trip for over half a year and it's now just hitting me?
My large suitcase is filled with about seven days worth of clothing and supplies for this 12-day trip. That means I failed to commit to either (1) pack light or (2) pack for the entire trip, strategy. Instead, I opted for the neither fish nor fowl option of packing more than I would need if I did laundry mid-trip, but less than I need for the full trip.
The security checkpoint at the D Gates was a mess. My first thought was: What a hassle! And All the waiting time for my layovers! Yes. It is such a hassle to be able to fly halfway across the world in less than 24 hours. Compare/contrast with the grandfathers and the paternal grandmother travelling in steerage across the ocean to a strange land where they don't speak the language. Well, I guess I do have something in common there. I will not be able to speak the tongue of where I am going, And I am travelling in the modern equivalent of steerage. Coach.
In about 20 hours elapsed time, I will be on the ground in Croatia. Not being able to speak a lick of the language.
Here in McCarran, I hardly ever use the D Gates. I'm more the C Gates/Southwest kind of guy. So I never before notice the really cool jackrabbit decorated the main concourse of the D's. THe weathered skin looks like dried mud. Very desert-ish.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My last real vacation: December 2008-January 2009

My last real vacation was December 2008/January 2009, when I took a driving trip to Texas. I got to check Big Bend National Park off my list of national parks I've visited. West Texas is wonderfully and amazingly isolated from the rest of the world, even more so than Nevada. From Big Bend I drove onward to Austin and to the Texas gulf coast and South Padre Island.
Along the way, I gassed up and refueled the personal stomach tank in Fort Stockton, Texas. Right there, on the main drag, decked out in his Christmas finery, was Paisano Pete, the giant roadrunner statue that is the best reason to pull off I-10 and check out downtown Fort Stockton. Did I say "best" reason? I guess that erroneously implies there were comparitors.
Anyway, this was the most recent vacation of consequence. The next one starts tomorrow, April 28. I'm leaving on a jet plane and I do know when I'll be back again.