Walking the Wall

The weather was bright and fine when we looked out on our balcony this morning; hopefully there’d be no more rain for the remainder of our cruise.  The Queen Victoria had recently docked in the port of Dubrovnik.  We’d last been here in 2003 on the Norwegian Crown, so were happy to be back in this magical walled city.

Dubrovnik was the capital of the former Yugoslavia and gained most of its prosperity as a major maritime trade port.  In 1991, after the break-up of Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik was besieged by Serbian and Montenegrin soldiers of the Yugoslav People’s Army for seven months and suffered significant damage from shelling. After repair and restoration works in the 1990s and early 2000s, Dubrovnik re-emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in the Adriatic.

By 2018 however, the city had to take steps to reduce the excessive number of tourists, especially in the Old Town. One method to moderate the overcrowding was to stagger the arrival/departure times of cruise ships to spread the number of visitors more evenly during the week.  Therefore, we couldn’t see any other cruise ships in port today other than the Queen Victoria.

When we went up to breakfast we couldn’t see Billy or Carole anywhere, so we assumed they’d already had theirs.  After we’d eaten, we therefore went to their cabin and knocked on the door to see what their plans were for the day.  However, Billy answered and said Carole wasn’t too well; she was obviously going down with a cold and/or cough, and hadn’t slept very well at all last night.  He therefore just advised us to do our own thing today, and they’d catch up with us later on.

Trevor and I therefore disembarked the Queen Victoria and joined the nearby queue for the shuttle bus into the Old Town.  We decided that today we’d walk the city walls, a total distance of 1.25 miles.  We arrived at a large square, containing the Pile Gate and St Saviour’s Church; access to the wall was up a fairly steep flight of steps.

It cost 150 Kuna (about £17.65) each to do the complete circuit.  Apparently it used to be free, but this charge was now being levied to go towards ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the wall, some of which harked back to the 10th century, although there were extra fortresses and towers added in the 13th and 15 centuries as a defence against the Ottoman Turks.

We set off at a leisurely pace; after all, there was no hurry and we had all day. Also, there were a lot of steep steps to climb to get onto the wall, and I had to stop several times to catch my breath.  🙂

As we climbed up higher, the panorama of orange-tiled rooftops spread out below us, with the glittering Adriatic sea in the near distance.  We could see several rocky promontories with fortifications atop them; they must have had fantastic vantage points during the many wars and conflicts that Dubrovnik has suffered.  We could see several small boats and even a group of people making good progress in canoes.

It was certainly good exercise walking the wall.  Even though we were going quite slowly, there were steps going down, then steps going up, and even the path itself sometimes rose in a steep incline.  At several points along the way, business-savvy people had set up rest-stops, cafés and bars, and many people were seated at the chairs and tables outside, enjoying cold drinks and snacks.  The prices, predictably, were quite expensive.  Trevor and I decided we’d wait until we’d finished before going for a beer; in any case we’d brought bottles of water with us, from which we took frequent draughts.

We continued on our way, and several times the wall passed right next to people’s dwellings; we could reach out and touch their red roof tiles, and we often saw washing lines strung up between windows, their colourful clothes flapping gently in the breeze.  From our high vantage point we could look down into private yards and gardens, and we saw several stray cats walking around, or basking in the sun.

Also, along the route of the wall, we came to several small museum-type buildings, containing statues, sculptures and other works of art, as well as the occasional small place selling souvenirs.

It took us about 90 minutes to complete the full length of the wall, then I thankfully descended the last of the steep steps back down to street level.  We then set off in search of a bar and a well-earned freezing cold beer. 🙂

We walked along the harbour wall for a bit, looking at the boats and a three-masted ship further out to sea.  Then we made our way into the newer part of the town where a number of alleys branched off the main streets; it was in one of these that we found a bar, with tables and chairs outside sheltered from the now-hot sunshine.

We ordered a large beer each, and sat and relaxed and enjoyed them, so much in fact that we ordered a third pint and shared it between us.  We then had to go and find a loo because, strangely, the bar didn’t have one.

In the main square where the church was we spotted a public restroom, so we went in there before deciding to take a slow stroll back to where the shuttle bus was.  There was one already there when we arrived, so we were able to board straight away and we found ourselves back on the Queen Victoria in nice time for lunch.  A quick stop-off at Billy and Carole’s cabin told us that neither of them was feeling particularly brilliant; apparently they had ventured ashore for a short while, but they had no energy and so returned to the ship.  We hoped they would pick up soon; after all it’s no fun spending all that money to come on a cruise then being too unwell to enjoy it properly.

We had a light lunch in the Lido self–service, then walked around the decks and just pottered around on the ship, before returning to our cabin and enjoying sitting out on the balcony for a while.  I then enjoyed a 30 minute power nap, did some of this blog and read my Kindle for a while.  Thus we passed the time in pleasant relaxation before it was time to get ready for dinner.  Shortly before we left to go to the Britannia restaurant, Billy called our cabin to say they’d be eating in the Lido, as neither had much of an appetite for the full four-course job. Oh dear!

Therefore, for Trevor and me it was just mange à deux on table #501 tonight and we enjoyed the usual delicious meal.  Afterwards, in the Golden Lion, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to find Billy there; Carole had just gone back to their stateroom after dinner. We had the usual drinks; a bottle of Old Thumper beer for Trevor and a glass of prosecco for me, before taking them into the Royal Court Theatre for tonight’s show, which was billed as a “four part male harmony group”.

In fact, they were four lads who called themselves “Troubadour” and they were excellent; the three of us really enjoyed their performance from our front-row seats.  One of the lads, called Lewis, had an accent that was instantly-recognisable as Geordie (we found out later he was from Alnwick in Northumberland).  The four of them were fantastic singers, individually as well as together, and their harmonising was perfect.  They also did an excellent à capella rendition which reminded me of the 1980s group The Flying Pickets.  Their show was also touched with quite a bit of humour and, all in all, they were very entertaining.  A lot of people stood up for them at the end, and we were pleased to hear that they’d be performing again on Friday night.

After the show Billy went up to the Commodore Club while Trevor and I returned to the Golden Lion for the quiz, agreeing to meet Billy later.  As usual, we were atrocious; in fact we scored a pathetic 3/20 but we weren’t last – the team whose paper we marked only got 1/20!  (Just goes to show how hard the quiz was).

Afterwards we adjourned to the tranquil and dimly-lit Commodore Club and enjoyed a drink and chatter over the day’s events.  As we descended back to Deck 5 in the lift, and returned to our respective staterooms, we hoped that Carole would be feeling a lot better tomorrow.

Trevor and I then sat out on our balcony with a nightcap, but there was quite a brisk sea breeze blowing so I didn’t stay out too long.  We then settled down in our big, comfortable bed and looked forward to whatever tomorrow would bring,  We both slept very well.

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