Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Croatia as we know it today is a new country with a long history, dating back thousands of years.  The current country is part of former Yugoslavia.  After the fall of communism in Russia, many of its former allies also experienced a change in governments.  There was a period in Croatia where the neighboring Serbs were shelling cities and killing the inhabitants.  Eventually peace returned and the country began a renaissance, and tourism picked up.
Dubrovnik's location on the Adriatic made it a major trading port.  It is the only city to have rivaled Venice for trade with the east.  Its walled Old City is a UNESCO Heritage Site and worth a visit.  The new harbor is not near the Walled City, but just a short distance away.  They have a very impressive bridge right on the edge of the new harbor, which makes a great first impression.
Once we were docked, we climbed aboard out bus and headed south.  We drove past the Old City on our way to a restored mill with a brandy tasting.  The countryside was beautiful, a large mountain range to the east and the valley and foothills dotted with small villages.  The rad was close to the coast so views of the Adriatic were constant.  Once the road went almost to Montenegro, we turned east to the mill.
The mill is still family owned and open for tours.  There was a series of mill houses along a quickly flowing stream.  The owner demonstrated the mills operation.  In the past, the miller would not charge money for the service, but a percentage of the milled product.  Considering the technology was a few hundred years old, it still operated efficiently.   By operating ropes, the operator could  start or stop the flow to turn the millstone.  After the demonstration we tasted locally produced brandy flavored with either walnuts or cherries.  For nibbles there were candied orange peels and sugared almonds, both traditional snacks.
Our next stop was the resort town of Cavtat.  Not far from Dubrovnik, but much more laid back, the Croatian version of the Riviera.  Since it was off season the harbor was fairly empty, during the summer it is full of yachts.  The waterfront promenade was beautiful and lined with cafes, some of which reminded me of South Beach.  The city itself has houses built in the 14th century to the present, and its center is car free.
The Old City is a pedestrian only area, so our bus dropped us just outside the wall.  After a brief tour of the main street we were allowed to wander on our own and shop.  We attempted to walk along the wall, but the 'Winter Hours' were in effect and it was no longer open, so wandering the ancient streets was the option.  Many of the shops catered to the tourist trade,  but there were some stores for those who lived in the city walls.

As the sun set we returned to our bus and the ride to the Pacific Princess.  Remember, professional travel agents have experienced many destinations and also take training classes to stay current.  For your travel needs, contact Travel Themes and Dreams.

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