Pritam Rohila Travels

Reports of my travels along with some pictures

Dec 18, 2007

2007 Croatia, Dubrovnik & Cavtat

September 27-October 14, 2007

October 6

After lunch-break at Kotor, Montenegro, we continued along the beautiful Dalmatian Coast on our way to Dubrovnik Croatia.

After parts of it being ruled by the Greeks since the 4th century BC, and the Romans since the 2nd century BC, Croatia came to be ruled in 910 AD by Tomislav, the first Croat king.

After the last Croat king died without any heir in 1091, most of the inland Croatia came a part of the Hapsburg Empire. At the demise of the Hapsburgs rule at the end of the World War I, a tumultuous period followed, until Croatia became a part of Yugoslavia.

Following another tumultuous period following the breakup of Yugoslavia, in 1992, Croatia was recognized by the European Union as an independent country. A decade of political and economic isolation followed due to its poor human rights record. Development was marred by rampant corruption, severe unemployment, low wages and high living costs.

Situation has recently begun to improve and more and more foreign tourists have been flocking to its beautiful coastline, and historical sites.

We reached Dubrovnik late in the afternoon. Grand Hotel Park, our hotel in Dubrovnik was situated in a park-like setting near scenic Waterfront dotted with many eating facilities and tourism-related businesses.

October 7

In the morning we set out for a guided tour of the fortified Old Town of Dubrovnik. It turned out be a cloudy, rainy day, not very good for photography.

The old town was built on a small island in the shadow of Mount Srd. In the 12th century the narrow channel separating the island from the mainland was filled in and joined with the neighboring mainland city. In 1918, the two cities together were named Dubrovnik.

Starting in 1358, the city was a powerful independent republic for 550 years. During the Middle Ages, caravans carried on trade between and the Middle East via Istanbul. By 16th century it had become a mercantile power with consulates in about 50 foreign ports. In 1979, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dubrovnik is surrounded by massive Walls, punctuated with towers and gates. Originally built in the 13th century, the walls are 10 to 20 feet wide.
From the mainland, a bridge provides access to the old city’s Pile Gate.

After going down a flight of steps, we entered the city. To the right of the entrance is Onofrio’s Fountain, and to the left is the 14th- century Franciscan Monastery.

The main Avenue (Placa) at one time was a narrow sea channel, which separated the nobility on the left from the commoners living on the right.
At the other end of the avenue is a Clock Tower.

A gate behind the Clock tower leads to the tiny Old Harbor. At one time, from this harbor the city’s merchant fleet of 200 ships sailed to England, Netherlands, and the Mediterranean.

To the left of the Clock Tower is the War Museum (Pomorski Muzej) and to the right is the 18th century baroque Church of St. Blaise (Crkva Svetog Vlaha), the patron saint of the city. Every year, on February 3, his statue is paraded around town.

In front of the Church is the Pillory, which was used to humiliate criminals.

Behind the Church is the Bishop’s Palace, which was originally built in the 15th century. In the days when the city was a Republic, the Great Council and the Senate met here. The Rector, the town’s chief citizen, who was elected for only for a month, lived in the upstairs quarters. Now the building houses the City Museum. Close to the Palace is the Cathedral of Our Lady (Katedrala Velika Gospa), which was rebuilt after the 1667 earthquake. Its treasures include the skull of St. Blaise in the form of a bejeweled crown and his arm and leg encased in decorated gold plating. After lunch, in the afternoon we visited the nearby small fishing village of Cavtat. Under the Greek and the Romans it had the name of Epidaurum.

On the way we passed by the New Dubrovnik Harbor, modern Dubrovnik Bridge designed by Dr. Franjo Tudman and the Port of Gruz.

Upon return to our hotel Kundan and I went out for a walk around the picturesque waterfront.
Later that night, at our dinner table, we forgot, and lost forever, the bottle of spice-mixture, which had helped make our meals tastier for the last many days!

Dec 3, 2007

2007 Montenegro, Kotor
September 27-October 14, 2007
October 6

This morning we left Tirana, Albania, for Dubrovnik, Croatia. We proceeded on a northwestern course, along the Adriatic coastline.

We passed by Shkoder, Albania. Situated on River Drin, Shkoder is known
for the Rozafa Castle. According to a legend, the castle is named for a young

woman of the same name, who was walled up in order that the walls of the castle do not fall down by the night. It is beleieved that the water passing through the stones at the castle’s main entrance comes out from the bossom of Rozafa, which she left out, when she was being walled up in order to feed her little baby.

We made a coffee stop at a restaurant. Flowers in its front yard made it an attractive place for a brief stop. A store attached to the restaurant displayed some ethnic costumes.

Shortly afterwards we crossed Albania-Montenegro border.

Located in southeastern Europe, Montenegro consists of a narrow coastal plain bounded by mountainous regions.

A part of the various reincarnations of Yugoslavia since 1918, Montenegro declared its independence in 2006. But consequent loss of previously guaranteed markets and suppliers led to a substantial economic downturn. The decline was accelerated by UN sanction imposed on it in 1992 due to its association with Serbia.

Things improved a few years ago, after new economic policy was initiated. The reforms included privatization of government industries and adoption of Euro as legal tender.

Our lunch stop was at Kotor, Montenegro. Kotor is located in the Gulf of

Kotor, which because of its physical features, is sometimes called the southern-most Fjord in Europe, even though it is actually a submerged river canyon.

In World War I, Kotor was the homeport for the Austrian Fifth Fleet and the area saw some of the fiercest battles between local Montenegrin Slavs, and Austria-Hungary.

The port town of Kotor has nice waterfront.

The town has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, when after expelling the Goths Emperor Justinian built a fortress in 535 AD on the top of the surrounding hills.

The old town is surrounded by an impressive city wall and gates built by the House of Nemanjic.

Between 1420 and 1797, Kotor and its surroundings were under the rule of the Republic of Venice. The Venetian influence can be seen in the town’s architecture.

The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, which was built in 1166, is one of the town’s important sights.

Its eating places, markets and people, along with its many sights make this town of about 14,000 a major tourist destination.

All these features of this well-preserved medieval old town have contributed to make it a UNESCO World Heritage.