Christmas in Dubrovnik, Croatia

December 21-28, 2006





Dubrovnik, wonderful Dubrovnik. We spent one glorious week inside the stone walls of Dubrovnik, a limestone city founded 1300 years ago, resting and recuperating, happily ensconced in our tiny apartment--our first in six months--shopping at the local market and eating home-cooked meals. We devoured salads made with the freshest, most perfect greens imaginable, baby broccoli sold in bundles wrapped with thin green stems, a kilo of lightly dried figs dusted with flour and packed with fresh orange leaves, and grappa sold in a recycled vodka bottle, made by a merchant whose only English was the promise that it would be "super extra special good." We scarffed down crunchy rustic breads and, all-too-quickly, the delicious delicate Christmas cookies made by our landlord's sister.

Early in the afternoon on Christmas Eve we wandered out to discover that the entire town, dressed to the nines, had turned out to celebrate. Bells rang from four different church towers, men in red coats fired off wooden muskets, and a quartet played mandolin, accordion, guitar and standup bass as they strolled through the streets. A choir of forty or more young Croatians dressed in black, most wearing oversized black sunglasses, serenaded revelers with Croatian Christmas favorites (including Jingle Bells!) in narrow side streets and as they walked down to the plaza and up onto the steps of the 14th century church that dominates the main square. A brass band forced its way through the crowd, but there were so many people we never saw it, we could only hear it in the distance. Everyone seemed to know one another, greeting with affectionate kisses on each cheek, careful not to muss perfect hair and make-up. Grappa and good cheer flowed freely all afternoon at the finest street party imaginable.










London, England (plane) ► Dubrovnik, Croatia