DUBROVNIK, CROATIA: I cannot swim. It’s not something I ever learned to do as a child. No one took me to a pond and threw me in. I never went to swim school on the weekends, nor was it something I felt like I was missing out on. This could be because I come from a long line of non-swimmers. My mother, my grandmother, and I would bet every great grandmother on the Japanese side going back.
Funny enough, I hadn’t realised swimming was something you had to learn. Each summer our Wednesday afternoons were occupied with trips to the country club for “kids day”. It was something the school I attended managed to set up for us. This must have been my second or third grade. All my friends were there, changed into their swimsuits, as did I. Giggling and racing to get into the water I followed them through the hall and into the giant indoor swimming pool. Everyone jumped in. All my friends splashed and frolicked while I sank. It hadn’t occurred to me there was something to know, some trick to keeping your head above water.
It was all pretty quick, I was pulled out by an adult or perhaps a bigger kid, lifted onto the poolside I coughed a few times and threw up all the water I had inhaled. What happened? I was still confused by it all. To make matters worse I was not allowed back in the water, even the shallow side. I was sent back to the locker room to get dressed and would have to sit the rest of the day out next to the chaperone. When I reached the dressing room the lights were out, so I reached up to the light switch and worse than a near drowning experience I was electrocuted to the floor, reeling from the double whammy shock.
Whilst walking through Dubrovnik I could not help but think of this story seeing all the glorious water surrounding me. I wanted to jump in, although it was probably very cold. The water looked to me to be Jell-O and instead of sinking I could just lay on top.
Sunsets are gorgeous here. I read someplace this little town was a favourite of abdicated King cum Duke Edward VIII and his American divorcée wife Wallis Simpson. The little town is indeed the pearl of the Adriatic, despite having been bombed and shelled in the 1991 Siege of Dubrovnik. Walking along the fortress walls surrounding the city you see the red clay rooftops, it is easy to see the newer, brighter coloured roofs, all replaced from the damage.
You can see this town in a matter of a day. It has one broad street from the main gate down through the centre. Small, cobbled streets splinter off from either side, each picturesque and quaint, offering beautiful views from the top. I wonder to myself what it is the residents do for a living. There are a number of resort hotels outside the main historical town, and there a number of water activities offered up but essentially there’s not much else. It reminds me a wee bit of Venice in that way, but what was really missing I felt was culture. I could not get a real sense of what it meant to be from Dubrovnik, or even Croatian for that matter. To live here, I thought, was to know what it is to live in a snow globe – perfect and unchanging for centuries, nothing coming in except the tourists who peek in trying to see whatever there is to see. At least Venice offers up an opera house.
Overall the medieval town which sustained a modern day siege and two earthquakes, the most devastating in 1667, is beautiful and should be seen, preferable when the cruise ships are not pulling up. It is chill, relaxed and as noted, offers any number of water activities. The swimmers can jump in feet first while us non-swimmers can watch from the boat, slowly drifting in the sea.