Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Croatia and Other Things

More blogless weeks.

Just back from a week's holiday in Dubrovnik in Croatia. Very hot (too hot at times) but also very beautiful. A fantastic walled city on the Croatian coast that is the ideal fortress and must have inspired the archetypal pirate fortress as seen in countless movies. In fact, many of the other towns along the coast had to build away from the coast as they had no natural defenses against the marauders inhabiting the clear waters of the Adriatic. I've never seen water like it before (also went in for a little dip despite my lack of swimming ability). The Croatians are very proud of their clean and clear water, full of fish and other lifey type things.

We were there at the tail end of the Festival of Dubrovnik and were treated to a live, open air concert from the Croatian Symphony Orchestra which we could see and hear from our apartment overlooking the main square. The first night was a little irritating as they were simply rehearsing. At midnight. Drifting off to sleep as some soft, classical music breezes on is nice. Being woken up with a start ten minutes later by the opening bars of Carmen at full blast is not so nice. We also heard what we presumed was a female singer, a soprano we reckoned. Very nice. The next night was the occasion of the actual  concert and we stuck our heads out of the window, listening to the music and the lovely, light singing only to realise what we thought was a female singer was in fact a male contralto, Max Emanuel Cencic, rather camp and wearing a shawl and cloth cap. I honestly thought that it was not possible for a man to make that kind of noise but there we are. He was very impressive. The concert was also being broadcast live on TV as well, offering a better view, if four seconds out of sync with the outdoor proceedings. But it was a very special thing to see on holiday. And free.

What was sobering was the realisation that many of the buildings we saw had been repaired or rebuilt after the Balkans war of the 1990's. Some buildings are still riddles with bullet holes and many of the homes we saw outside Dubrovnik and during our trips to Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina (specifically the nice but far too hot town of Mostar) were brand new, so sweeping had been the destruction of the past. In fact a very old bridge in Mostar had been completely destroyed in the war and was now fully rebuilt from its original stones and bricks. Impressive to say the least. And yet there seemed to be no tension between the different peoples of the countries we went to, possibly because the Serb Nationalists who caused so much of the devastation are in the minority and in Serbia.

I wonder if the differing tribes of Libya are going to be so forgiving and understanding now Gadaffi is out of power.

I didn't take too many pictures (although my shutterbug wife took 600!) but may post some soon.

As always with me there's a movie catch to the trip. On the way to Montenegro, we passed through the tunnel featured in the car chase from the opening of Quantum of Solace. Not the best Bond film but not the worst either and always good to see a movie location.

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