Adio Dubrovnik

My Austrian Airline flight to Vienna departed the Cilipi airport on a very hot and humid afternoon this past May.  Abby was safely stashed away in her new Gucci travel crate in cargo. The flight attendant noticed a tear on my cheek and whisked me into business class, seating me perfectly to view Dubrovnik as we began our ascent to cruising altitude. Dubrovnik and Cavtat had been my retirement home for the past 10 years and as the coast began to disappear under the clouds, I began to feel a profound sadness that I had no idea when or if I can return.

My love affair with Dubrovnik began many years prior and I visited almost every summer until the 1991 homeland war began.  One late night in January 2008 I entered the Ploce gate, strolled down the barren Stradun to the ancestral home, and I knew that I had found Shangri-La, my perfect paradise. Deciding to return to American was one of the most heartbreaking decisions of my life.  Perhaps it had been made too hastily as my dear friend Christiane stated recently.  However, the jump from the frying pan into the fire had been put into high speed because of trade-offs between what I love and what I wanted to love.

Cavtat had been my home for the last five years.  It was there I mourned the death of Ivo, my best friend.  Neighbors became good friends and summer was approaching, the torrential rains had finally diminished.  It was late evening as I heard a knocking on my door, Abby barking her greetings as usual.  My apartment owner was standing at attention, waiting for the invitation to come inside.  The news was not what I had expected; he was there to give me verbal notice to move out and I was not at all prepared for his statement that I only had thirty days to “get out.”  He was giving me a very short advance notice at the beginning of our high summer season.  Needless to say I went into a downward spiral of panic.  For the last two years I had been searching for a new apartment and all these owners wanted me, but would not permit Abby inside. Dogs just do not generally have a well-loved place in the typical Croatian heart.  My friends and I beat the bushes, but the seasonal workers had arrived and needed housing, along with the early tourists.  It was back to the States or sleep on Sveti Jakov beach.

A short time has passed, I am still profoundly homesick and miss so much of the good parts.  The only joy I have from this move was watching two very special families all work together helping sell all my ‘stuff.’ (I had to watch George Carlin’s take on “stuff” the other night to put it into perspective, but I digress.)  The Markoni and Milicevic families kept me sane as I sold or gave away all my worldly processions.  They appeared when I needed assistance and just the thought of leaving my loving neighbors, the Markoni gang, stressed me.  My beloved Mara was always there for me and her smiling face is etched in my dreams forever.

Sitting and talking with Danica, the matriarch of the Milicevic family, was extremely difficult that last day.  Her sadness was contagious and my tears began to pour as we sat on the terrace gazing at the emerald green sea and the island of Mrkan, a gentle wind keeping us cool as we drank their homemade pelinkavoc.  I wanted to give Danica a gift that had more meaning than anything I could have purchased as my uspomena (farewell gift).   Many years ago a special friend gave me a unique albatross which hung in my home for more than 50 years.  It was a precious gift to me and it now hangs from the grape arbor on the terrace with the sea view in Cavtat, put up by her son Grga.  In my heart I am sure that each member of both families know how much I cherish them and the time we spent together.  It will be a celebration once again when I can sit with Danica and we drink down our Pelinkovac as we savor the most beautiful view in Cavtat.

Cavtat sunset - Copy

13 thoughts on “Adio Dubrovnik

  1. Hello Carol,

    This makes us very sad, maybe I didn’t read your blog close enough but where are you off to.

    It’s rather funny, Heather asked me only last night if I thought you would be rooting for Croatia on Sunday.

    We certainly have very warm memories of our time with you and I know you have helped thousands with your sage advice. We hope you will keep in touch.

    Warm wishes,

    Frank & Heather

    Sent from my iPad.


    • Frank & Heather, I am now living in Oregon in a small town called McMinnville. Only been here less than 2 months, still homesick for the sea. I will begin to write again, this time about the last 10 years and my many misadventures.

  2. Oh no, I am sorry to see you have had to leave! We had a visit to Dubrovnik in summer 2013 and you put us in touch with a wonderful man who served as our tour guide. His name escapes me, but we often talk about our day there and how much we enjoyed seeing the area through the eyes of someone who lives there.

    I wish you the best in this next phase of life.

  3. Carol,
    I am so sad to hear that you had to leave a special place that was such a part of you. Dubrovnik does that. One becomes part of it, it becomes part of you. I haven’t been there since 2001, but everyday I think about it, I dream about it. I can’t imagine how you are feeling. I pray that you get to return soon to your joy and all of the friends you had made there.

  4. Oh no. I’m sitting here after reading your email crying. I’m so sorry to hear this. I have loved your posts and have been touched by them, deeply. My great grandmother came from Dubrovnik and my great grandfather from Montenegro over to America. My mother and I went on a few cruises to croatia and when I touched the soil something profound came over me. Such a sense of beauty and wishfulness and belonging. You were so terribly lucky to get to live there and experience that every day. I was so very lucky you shared that part of your life so that I could experience it through you. You touched me and probably so many others like me. Thank you for your many gifts that you have given us. Good things are coming for you. Where is your next journey taking you? I live in anaheim, Ca and want to continue to know how you are doing, please stay in touch!

    Most Sincerely, Michelle Schlepp

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Wow, thank you it is nice to hear that someone was actually touched by my stories. Dubrovnik is a magical town, no one knows it better than me. I would love to see the many cruise dwindle down to the bare minimum. My heart and soul are still sitting on the Riva sipping my espresso.

  5. Hi Carol, welcome back to the fascist states of Merica !! Sorry you left Croatia, but Oregon is nice.
    I just returned from 3 months in Roma, what a great experience ! Do you still remember selling me my first airline ticket to Italy? $800 to Milan. I have now been there 20 times !! Keep in touch.

    • My dear Bill, what a wonderful experience. Of course I remember the first ticket. You were going to Italy for the first time, what a thrill. Glad to see that you are still moving and shaking.

  6. I am so sorry that you are leaving your beloved Cavtat, I hope you and Abby can live in harmony in the USA , I have loved your bloggs and really enjoyed my visits to Cavtat. I hope you will continue writing and let us know how you get on . I wish you the very best xxx

  7. I am on Cruise Critic and have read a lot of your postings. I found the link to this page and hope to discover more things about Dubrovnik and the surrounding area. So very sorry that you had to leave Dubrovnik. I can imagine the shock when the owner knocked on your door. Very unexpected I bet. I wish you the best!

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