Rainy Walls

Today started slow, thank heavens. A couple days of hiking and late nites eating and drinking to excess had taken their toll. This morning I set off to find a cafe from which I could write up the last few days blogs. I had let this slip a bit and needed a quiet place, with coffee and wifi, comfy seating and preferably a view. I ticked most of these boxes with Cafe Art on the main road out of the old town. It was a quirky cafe with brightly coloured bathtubs cut out into seats and coloured lights fading in the corners of the room. I think it’s a nightclub/bar in the evenings.

I only managed to catch up on a bit of work and one blog entry before the agreed meeting time. It sounded like a few people wanted to walk the city walls when we were discussing it last night over drinks. However come the morning, only 2 of these people materialised and in the end it was just me and Haidee walking the walls. She’s a lovely, potty mouthed, girl who doesn’t do much physical exercise so the numerous flights of uneven stairs were a bit of a challenge.

We lazily walked around the city perimeter, stopping occasionally to take photos and pose like tourists. It’s not my favorite sport but today I was being a tourist, there was no getting away from it. At least it had rained pretty hard earlier in the day and looked like it was threatening more so it was relatively quiet up there. Stopping near the port at a wall-top bar, we sat and chatted for an hour and just enjoyed the view, it was really nice and relaxed. This is the first time I’ve really done touristic holiday stuff. Usually I’m climbing or motorbiking or walking somewhere. Doing normal holiday stuff like taking historical tours and day trips is not what I usually get up to, but I was enjoying it nonetheless. Certainly after this week is done, I’ll have comprehensively ticked off Dubrovnik as a place to see.

The wall literally does encircle the town. The views around it are spectacular and you see the town from a completely different angle. Sounds obvious, but the streets are so narrow and the buildings so tall its difficult to know where you are most of the time. From above it’s also confusing but you can see where all the main landmarks are to orient yourself. The rooftops rise in random directions, all built on top of each other. Extensions, new houses, ruins, roofs, terraces, walkways and arches go in all directions. Secret little spaces are tucked away in corners, usually with a potted rose plant and a chair or two. Even the parasols are special here, chopped to fit the irregular angles of the walls surrounding them.

After a couple of beers and Haidee a couple of wines, we carried on along the wall. We had been chatting for a long time and hadn’t realised how much left of the wall there was before we were expected at the Button Villa for dinner. The Maritime museum was also accessible from the wall and we dropped in for a quick look but in a less inebriated state would probably have spent longer here.

The highest point and highlight of the walls was the big castle looking corner defense at the top of the hill. It formed a huge battery against attacks from land and also a lookout over the whole city. The view from up here was spectacular, commanding the principal point of the town. You can just imagine looking out from this castle over your walled city and knowing how strong and impenetrable it is to attack. The sheer size of the stones used to construct this building – building is definitely the wrong word as it doesn’t have enough gravity to convey the density of the structure – and the height this monstrosity reaches would have been incredibly impressive for a 15th century civilian. Sometimes I wish modern buildings would be made with as much gravitas. The vast expanses of perfect shiny metal cladding butting up neatly at right angles to perfectly smooth crystal glass is certainly modern but it’s just not as impressive. There is a stored wonder in the mass of the rock used in old buildings. It’s already been here impressing people for multiple hundreds of years and you can guarantee they will be here long after the skyscrapers of today have fallen or been replaced. I guess that’s the point. Skyscrapers are trendy and designed to last a particular lifespan. These castles were built to be impenetrable and last FOREVER. Maybe that the grandeur that modern buildings are missing?

Finishing our wall walk we headed to our respective hostels to freshen up for the evening’s festivities at casa del Button. I picked up a lot of beer en route and after carting it up the hill, dove straight into the pool to cool off. The sun was starting to get low so I didn’t stay in there long, also it was at this point food arrived. 6 huge pizza boxes of meat, chips and pizza. This was supplemented by salad and bread and baked potatoes. The feast was vast and we didn’t even get close to finishing it. We all just sat around and drank, chatted and ate until saturated with the evening. Venus even made an appearance brightly poking a hole in the rapidly darkening sky.

A game of volleyball keepy-uppies evolved in the pool between Button and Malcolm, Haidee and Jenny so I got back in to show them how it was done. In the end we managed 15 consecutive up-keeps (?) before losing control of the ball. This was also when Jenny finally took a tour on the inflatable swan, looking as regal as possible for a drunk chick on a rubber ring.