All night the rain pounds Dubrovnik. Amanda sees some lightning through our skylight. We sleep in because we don’t want to go out in the rain even though Dubrovnik is so cool. Plus we are on vacation. Oh and it’s Easter. Church bells ring every once in a while, signalling the beginning or end of a mass. We rotate showers – the heaters are so small we have to wait an hour in between.
I hunt around for a Game of Thrones tour, which I should have booked already. There are none today but I luck out and get a good private tour for 3:30. Off-season planning for the win! At 2:30 we leave the apartment in a drizzle, sample another gelato place and decide it’s not as good. Tonka meets us intown with a big spiral bound plastic book full of GoT pictures. Here we go!
Lily too doesn’t like GoT because she doesn’t do the fantasy thing. She does like sci-fi and superheroes a lot. Emma has seen most of GoT but says ‘It took too much work to follow’ She like silly anime on youtube. Go Figure.
Amanda, however, is the big fan, having read all the books and seen all the shows. If I talk during the show she’ll keep staring at the screen and lift a finger in my direction to silence me. It’s that important.
I won’t go into the story. I think by now you either love it or you’ll never watch it. The important thing is that much of season 2 was filmed here after HBO got kicked out of Malta in season one. Tonka shows us what it looked like in the film compared to the actual place. It was really interesting to see the CGI vs what they kept and how they used the spaces. Although the really big buildings were always CGI superimposed on the film, Dubrovnik holds it’s own on a smaller level.
The brothel, the trial by combat, the wedding of king something or another and the shaming of Circe are all part of the tour. (I liked seeing the pictures of Circe cause she naked.) Tonka our guide was an extra on a few of the scenes and talked a little bit about the experience. Some parts of the last Star Wars movie were done here and a James Bond is due to film one of these years.
She gives us some of the city’s history. Dubrovnik was notable in this part of Europe for being relatively progressive. Slave trading was abolished in 1418, they started a medical service, an orphanage and a poor house also in the 15th century. In those days they flew under a white flag that said ‘Libertad’ – freedom in Latin – which they adopted after slave trading ended.
Tonka explains in front of the rectory, the center of government, that they would rotate among heads of state every month to avoid any one person accumulating too much power.
Of course it was very class based and aristocratic and deeply Catholic but they were ahead of their time in many ways compared to peers anywhere in Europe much less Eastern.
Dubrovnik (which Tonka says with a very soft v, almost a w – Amanda the linguist notices) began to decline after a devastating earthquake in 1667 that flattened the city buildings, but would have succumbed to the modern warfare of the 19th and 20th centuries. Napoleon, the Austrian empire, Nazi germany and Tito’s communism had no interest in leaving them independent and no fear of big stone walls.
The patron saint, behind us, is St. Blaise. ‘Blaze it up doods.’ The girls chuckle. St. Blase is holding the city in his hand and is featured on many buildings.
St. Blase has certainly done a good job protecting the city. It’s the best surviving of it’s kind. In 971 he supposedly warned the town that the Venetians harbored nearby were there to attack. The city repelled the assault. The saints feet and hands are here in the local church.
Tonka takes us to a gift shop where we get to take photos on the Game of Thrones… throne? Does someone win this throne in a game…. OF THRONES? Ok I’ll stop. As you can see the family misses the cue as to which photo was the stern photo and which was the smiling. We have a second picture with the smilers frowning and the frowners smiling. Good communication, fam.
We wrap up the tour at St. Larewence fortress, the one across the small bay I photographed extensively yesterday. The waves are less severe but the rain is falling today. The view of the city from there is spectacular, among the best we’ve seen.
We thank Tonka and let the kids go off on their own. “Big girl time!’ We caffeinate and drink warm soothing liquid at a cafe across from the rip-off one yesterday. We’re a captive audience. There aren’t too many places open anyway.
In fact, it’s so limited on Easter that all four of us end up in the same pizza restaurant at the same time. The waitress asks if we want to sit together and all we exclaim in unison ‘NO’ which makes the other patrons laugh. It’s good pizza.
Full of warm food, Amanda and I go back through the ploce (rear) gate and slowly walk on the outside of the walls to the east, along the land. It’s an easy walk and the walls are lit up nicely. It rains a bit and is a little cold but it’s really nice. We hold hands. There is a cute gift shop we promise to return to tomorrow when it’s open.
It’s so easy to photograph without the people! Because it’s Easter and the cruise ships are gone for the day this is as quiet as we’ve seen Dubrovnik. You really should go in the off season. I mean, go any time you can, but I’m positive it’s better when it’s cold and quiet. Tonka told us that in January even Dubrovnik is quite shut down, like Trogir and Sibenik were.
This city just hums with history. We have learned nothing more than what you read on a wikipedia article and a bit from the guide books. I wouldn’t say it appears frozen in time, but it’s a throwback for sure. It does not take much imagination to see what life might have been.
Amanda really wants a picture on the stairs of the main square where a very famous scene from GoT was filmed – the shaming of Circe, when a woman was pelted with mud and tomatoes for some transgression.
A moon rises and is briefly visible through the clouds. Maybe we’ll get some clear weather tomorrow? Perish that thought, it starts to pour again. Luckily we are at a cafe to end the night. This one we love.
It’s just outside the St. Blaise church and the statue of Orlando, erected in the same year slave trading was abolished. It’s a dedication to Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor who helped The Ragusa republic, the Italian name for Dubrovnik, stay independent of the Venetian army. It symbolizes Dubrovniks sovereignty (albeit under some kind of ruler.)
Last day in Dubrovnik tomorrow. Hope the weather gets better.