There were many who did not believe an American city girl would be able to last, living in Dubrovnik beyond a few years. Perhaps there is a bit of truth in that sentiment because I no longer live in Dubrovnik but in the quaint town of Cavtat, a short twenty-minute drive south. Next week will mark my sixth year of retirement here and it is now very apparent my move was permanent.
One might say that I was a bit naive upon arrival, confident that I would easily fit in quickly. There were trials and tribulations along my path, mostly overcome with help from new friends.
My very first apartment was small studio on the third floor of a home on a very busy road. I lovely referred to the hovel as the “Penthouse”; after all it was the top floor of a three-story home with a superb sea view. Most of my free time was spent sitting out on the itsy bitsy terrace gazing at the iridescent colors of the Adriatic. It was at the penthouse I learned how Europeans count floors with the first main level being ground, second is called “first” and my penthouse was on the third level but called “second.”
After the first big rainstorm I took my first big tumble and learned that all my boots, shoes and sandals must have radial tires on the bottoms. The Stradun, the main promenade, is sandstone which over hundreds of years has become shiny and slippery when wet as oil on glass.
Spring time arrived and I was awestruck with the many wildflowers which popped up around the town. One of my favorite views was from my green park bench in Boninova overlooking the sea. I saw bright red poppies and blue-green irises midst the yellow crocuses scattered over the hillside reaching down to the luminous blue waters of our sea.
I love hats! All styles of hats, wide-brimmed, straw fedora and during our hot sunny summers I always wear something unique. This year my chapeau acquired a name – the Al Capone hat. My new collection is handmade by Marija, a young woman who continues the tradition of hand-woven hats in her great-grandfather’s shop dating back to 1858. Back in California there is a vintage lady’s traveling hatbox storing the mauve feather hat my mother wore as we boarded Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth for my first transatlantic crossing in 1954. And now I wish I had kept some of the many hats from my past.
The past six years have been a learning experience, a new way of life living the traditions and history dating back hundreds of years. But most of all, special friends enrich my journey as it continues onward into the New Year.
Header photo is “Dubrovnik 1896”