Letouttoplay

Life, photos but not the universe

So before I forget

I have to tell you about Joseph.

When we arrived at our hotel in Mlini we realised that we might want to use the shuttle to Dubrovnik (a ten minute bus journey – road works permitting) and next morning we approached Joseph (Jozo on his card – very jazzy), who it seemed could organise trips to anywhere as well as minibus rides.  He happily booked us for a ride into the city and collection later.  Then we asked him about trips to Mostar as I was very keen to see the famous bridge* (another casualty of the war, since rebuilt).  Oh yes, he could arrange that.  How about 7.30 on Monday morning?   Pay tomorrow, no problem (77 odd quid so very trusting of him).

We arrived to meet him in the morning for our ride into Dubrovnik and he was delighted to learn that I had been to the city 40 years earlier as a student (all the drivers were delighted to learn this).  Then we spent our day in the city and staggered out at the end of it to find him waiting with his mini bus by the Ploce Gate.  As he drove us back he asked what had we planned for Sunday?  Because there was folklore to be seen in Cilipi if we were interested.  Well we hadn’t planned anything so we agreed to go to Cilipi and then asked to be dropped in Cavtat on the way back and then we could be collected later in the evening after eating, no problem.  We were beginning to realise that transport timings weren’t ever going to fit neatly with dinner!  And after our meal at the hotel on the second night (least said about that the better) we were really going to have to concentrate on the whole dinner/timing thing.  But the pianist in the Piano Bar turned out to be Joseph so we cheered a bit and chatted a bit and refused a drink as we’d had a whole bottle of wine but he insisted on buying us a coffee and seemed to be saying our shuttle into Dubrovnik next day would be no charge no problem any time!  Just phone me when you want to come back – I will come.

And he did.  And then having asked if we enjoyed to trip to Mostar, took us to see two bombed out hotels just along the coast from Mlini.  The thing being that the Bosnia-Herzogovenians had bombed Dubrovnik and the Croatians had then bombed Mostar.  Joseph was a soldier himself (“Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch- ” he said, making a gesture that evoked a child playing at machine guns) and most probably he was involved in the bombing of Mostar.  The sad, blackened and blasted hotels down by the sea have been left as a monument of sorts to the terrible events of the war.

We had read, before leaving England, that we shouldn’t mention the war.  Well we didn’t need to.  Everyone who was of an age to have been involved was ready to talk about it at the drop of a hat.  And the place is so small that you knew anyone over twenty must have been directly involved even if it was only hiding under tables and in cellars while having shells and mortars and stuff fired down on them from the looming mountain above (or from behind the island or from the air).   There would have been nowhere to go.  Every driver told us at least once as we travelled along the steep hairpin roads along the mountainsides “Up there is Bosnia-Herzogovena – just over that mountain.  It is just there”.

Joseph (aged about 50?  Maybe?) had retired on his service pension but runs the minibus service just to earn a bit of extra and because he likes to keep busy.  He told us that under the communist government, everyone had their own homes if they worked for the government, and a guaranteed wage.  And when the war was over, many soldiers were able to retire comfortably on their service pensions.  Ivan, another (younger) driver would tell us later that many older people considered that life under the communist government of Yugoslavia was much better than anything that had happened since.

Anyway, we managed to persuade Joseph to accept a coffee on our last day and booked our shuttle to the airport and once again he refused to accept payment.  I’m not sure if it was just that we were the only people using the shuttle so early in the season or if he just liked us for ourselves but we certainly liked him and found his company very congenial.  We rather got the impression that he ran the agency which provided minibuses for day trips as well as the shuttle.

So, our first day in Dubrovnik – after the cable car and a wander up and down the Stradun.  We ate and drank, we went to the Rector’s Palace and the Cathedral.  Photos not allowed in any of them so I just have a couple of sneaky, blurred snaps taken quietly with the iPhone!  Then we walked the walls.   I could happily have done this several times.  And we admired both harbours though I must say Pile Harbour looks like a dangerously rocky place to take a boat.  And then we sat outside a cafe by the main Harbour and suddenly a group of young people began to sing (I’m quite ignorant about singing  – cantatas?  madrigals?  Something like that with lots of harmony and lovely melodies).  It seems that the Dubrovnik Symphony members like to come to that bar and sing  just for the pleasure of it.  Certainly to our pleasure anyway.  Later we had a fabulous meal in Lucin Kantrun Restaurant – highly recommended.

And now I’ve babbled a bit I shall post a lot of pictures.

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The ingenuity of it!  A pulley system for your unreachable washing line!  Not a good drying solution if you have no head for heights though.

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If this bar isn’t called “The Hole in the Wall” it ought to be.  The other photo would have been called “Man Eating an Orange” only he finished it just before I took the photo.

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I don’t know if it was just that the weather here had been as disappointing as at home but wherever we looked inward from the walls, there was washing hanging out.

We’ve been away again – on Brother-in-Law’s boat for the weekend and very soon, we will be off on our own.  Since the time when I didn’t know if I was coming or going, it has now been made clear.  I am going and going.  And then going again.  Despatches from this outpost will be very patchy for a while!

*Not just to see young men jumping off it honest!

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April 30, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized

8 Comments »

  1. Hooray! for the Josephs of this world. May all war-torn places produce Josephs.

    Comment by dinahmow | April 30, 2013 | Reply

  2. All those pictures have wonderfully blue skies.
    And Jozo, what a hero.
    20 years is a relatively short time, and nobody who was there will have forgotten the fear and terribleness. So sad.
    It does look a beautiful place.

    Comment by Linda | April 30, 2013 | Reply

  3. Isn’t the sea a fantastic colour! Croatia looks (and sounds from your descriptions) wonderful. I want to go there.

    Looking forward to further, infrequent, despatches about your travels.

    Comment by Liz | April 30, 2013 | Reply

  4. Well that’s funny! I could have sworn I posted a whole reply yesterday!

    Anyway, yes Dinahmow. And we met other lovely survivors too.

    The skies are really that colour Linda – and is beautiful. Astonishing to think how it was only a little while ago.

    That’s that Adriatic Liz! It was coloured blue/green-ish even on grey days. Do go there – I’m sure you’ll love it.

    Comment by Mig | May 2, 2013 | Reply

  5. OH my gosh….laundry would never get done. LOLOL What a lovely soul, this Jozo. Talented fella, obviously. How wonderful to have crossed paths with him. That had to add to the whole trip.
    And you got an ear full of song! Wow….talk about amazing. They’re their own flash mob! 😉

    Gorgeous photos–I like the man not eating an orange. LOL And the skies and sea…..holy cow…..absolutely stunning!
    Those tiled roofs are awesome–are they mandated to have them all tiled in the same colours?
    They make the whole city so pretty.

    Comment by Mel | May 2, 2013 | Reply

  6. Oh yes Mel – I watched that lady leaning out of her three storey window and decided never ever to wash clothes in Dubrovnik! And yes, the singing was just like a flash mob.
    As for the tiles, I wondered if it was just the colour of the local clay? Kept forgetting to ask but it seemed to be the same all over the parts of Croatia where we went.

    Comment by Mig | May 2, 2013 | Reply

  7. I wonder if people keep falling out of windows there. I did pass by once in a train in 1971 (I think) on my way from Athens to Geneva…on a train that didn’t stop for days…and no food. I am, of course much more organised now…
    Looks like a great trip!

    Comment by rosie | May 2, 2013 | Reply

  8. I think Dubrovniakans have special window leaning powers rosie. I spent quite a lot of time on this holiday trying to work out exactly when and where I was travelling when I first, briefly came here.

    Comment by Mig | May 23, 2013 | Reply


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