Recently, while trolling a travel forum, someone has posted “Is Cavtat worth it?” Fill in your own word, town, city, country, restaurant…the list could be endless. However I find great difficulty understand what they are asking. Many travelers ask about Croatia, Dubrovnik and Cavtat, my forever home, which I can answer easily. A recommendation for a hotel, good restaurants both budget and high end. Which cultural and historical sites not to miss, where to purchase locally made items which I hope will let them wander down memory lane joyfully.
Was my first European trip worth anything? There are not enough words to describe the beginning of my lifetime of wanderlust. Hell yes, every trip has been beyond my expectations and a few words cannot describe their worth in my life experiences.
Traveling has always been at the very top of my bucket list. As a young teenager I made the extraordinary journey of my short life, from New York to Cherbourg on the Queen Elizabeth, sitting on the original Orient Express from Paris to Venice. Boarding a small ship cruising from Trieste to Korcula, the tiny rickety boat ride to Orebic, my mothers birth village. We were here for three months exploring the Dalmatian coast, enjoying time with my extended Croatian aunts, uncles and so many cousins I lost track of who was who. Seeing my maternal Grandfather for the first time, going fishing with him as he trolled for hidden octopus. Walking up Sveti Ilija mountain to our village church, Sveti Angela and putting flowers on our Mrgudic family grave honoring my grandmother who had passed only a month before our arrival. So many life experiences which I relish daily, remember fondly and so thankful that my parents spent years saving to visit the land of their birth.
My memories began when I reached the age of 30 and wondering if it was true I had become OLD. As a young teen I had often heard others claim anything beyond 29 was the end of life. My birthday has just passed and I was searching for a career path and dove into selling real estate head first. Sitting on an open house one very hot summer day I had finished reading a magazine article about travel. With no hesitation I picked up the phone and dialed TWA and requested a quote for a trip from Los Angeles to Rome, continuing on to Dubrovnik and a Paris stopover on the return. A charming reservation agent quote $700, including all taxes and totally refundable! In 1971 it was still the golden age of travel, affordable airfares, luxurious economy seating, respectable meals served on china by flight attendants who loved their chosen vocation with enthusiasm. Passengers were treated graciously and the few who became unruly were mostly often those who imbibed with limitless free booze.
As the flight began its approach to Italy, I began to prepare for my Rome adventure. A head popped up from the seat in front of mine. A young woman blinked and asked if I was going to Rome. We both went into fits of laughter realizing the absurdity of the question. Across the aisle two young gentlemen joined our conversation and we made plans to meet at my hotel later that day to explore Rome together. The Villa Borghese hotel on the infamous Via Veneto had been recommended to me by my friend Ray Heindorf, the musical director at Warner Brothers studio. Location, location, location – it was a great choice for me and my deluxe room rate was $23 per night. Please do not compare with rates shown now. An overnight trip to Sorrento, the small boat ride to the Blue Grotto and the experience of Pompeii were far beyond my expectations. In a few short days I had fallen in love with my first Italy trip and returned many times. My last night I sat on the Spanish steps soaking up the ambiance of the magical site I reveled in the delights of the beginning of my first of many European adventures.
Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic, began with great anticipation as my flight began to descend into the tiny Cilipi airport. Waiting at the gate was Vjero, one of my many cousins, who graciously invited me to stay with his family inside the old town. My first night in Dubrovnik was an evening dancing at the disco on the rim of Mt Srd high above the old town. As I wandered over to the old historical site of Fort Imperial and watched the lights of Dubrovnik sparkling like glowing diamonds, I knew I had found my forever home.
So, is travel worth it? Only if you do it with your heart.