February 7, 2012

European Honeymoon Cruise, Part 5: Croatia

{Read part one here.}
{Read part two here.}
{Read part three here.}
{Read part four here.}

After our unforgettable visit to Venice, and en route to our new destination, something terrible happened. I got sick. I wasn't at all sea-sick mind you; rather, I had something very like strep throat. I felt really, really awful, and I'm sad to say that for the remainder of the cruise {about 7 days}, I was sick. I didn't seem to be running a fever, but my sore throat was absolutely atrocious, my head was congested and throbbing, and I felt exhausted. I kept thinking that my symptoms would start fading after a few days, but they persisted at full-force for the whole week.

Thankfully, Matt didn't get sick. I'm not sure where I picked up the bug...we had already been aboard the ship for a week, so I didn't think it was from the airplane. I couldn't believe it--I was sick on my honeymoon! Of any time to be sick, this was NOT it.

Thankfully, I wasn't so sick that I was bedridden and too weak to be able to go ashore to the ports of call. And we still enjoyed our time aboard the cruise ship--enjoying the pools and hot tubs, dining out {though I didn't have much of an appetite}, and going to shows. In retrospect, it's probably because I didn't confine myself to bed-rest for a couple of days that my symptoms were so severe for the whole week. I was just so determined to not let this sickness detract from our wonderful honeymoon and experiencing all it had to offer! Matt did force me to slow down, and we didn't spend as much time ashore or out and about in the ship as we otherwise would have. He was patient enough to spend mornings and afternoons with me in our room resting, and ordering a lot of room service {thank goodness it was at no extra cost!}.

Even though I felt so yucky, it was still a wonderful, unforgettable second-half to our honeymoon cruise.

Our next port-of-call after Venice was the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. This is a stunningly beautiful port city in the Adriatic Sea. It's actually quite an ancient city, one that was called "Ragusa" up until the early Twentieth Century. In past centuries, Ragusa's port city rivaled that of Venice.

On the morning our ship docked there, Matt and I were up early to get some breakfast in one of the dining rooms. We were astounded when we looked out the windows to be welcomed with this beautiful sight:

Cruise ships must dock a ways out from Dubrovnik's port--it can't accommodate such large ships. Little ferry boats were constantly running back and forth between our ship and the docks. Matt and I were settled onto one in no time, and were quickly whisked away to the port. In the blink of an eye, we were standing on the docks, ready to enter the city.

Dubrovnik is fortified with a high, thick wall encircling the entirety of the ancient city. The wall is dotted with turrets and towers; it gives Dubrovnik a very medieval-look.

One thing that makes Dubrovnik so remarkable is the white stone with which the city was built. Everything from the footpaths, to walls, to the houses, buildings, and churches were constructed from the same white stone. This stone white city stands out like a glittering diamond against the backdrop of the deep blue sea waters.

The picture below illustrates how the stone walkways consist of perfectly, smooth, shining stone, buffed by all the many feet shuffling along them.

There were hundreds of tiny side streets with stairways leading up to the top of the fortified walls.

As Matt and I began to make our way up towards the city walls, we saw many, many side streets like this. It was obvious these are the less-trodden paths of Dubrovnik.

After walking around the city for a while, I was feeling worse. It was a gorgeous day, but it was hot, and the heat was exacerbating my sore throat. I was needing to sit and rest for a bit. Matt and I were at the top of one of the outer walls. We noticed that there was a door that seemed to lead to a little area outside of the fortified walls.

We peeked our heads out of the door and saw this:

We then saw that there was a narrow stairway leading down the rocky outer wall to a tiny, secluded cafe with the most beautiful view imaginable! At the moment just when I needed it most, God provided the most amazing paradise oasis:

We went down into the cafe and ordered two iced teas. We settled into a little table and still couldn't believe that we had literally just stumbled upon this little gem tucked away into the cliffs outside the city walls!

The other patrons were enjoying their drinks in the shade:

The price of the drinks was beyond outrageous, but sitting there, enjoying the endless beauty of the view made it all completely worth it. It left me feeling refreshed and recharged to be able to continue exploring this charming city with Matt.

Outside of the ancient part of Dubrovnik {which is referred to as the "Old City"}, we caught a quick glimpse of the modern city outskirts.

But then we turned right around and went back through the grand gate back into the "Old City."

Dubrovnik is a gem all its own. It's unlike any city we had ever seen--a white city upon which fairy tales are built. The air is filled with a soft citrusy scent, thanks to the orange and lemon trees growing in the city gardens. Grand edifices, full of elegance and history, tower over locals and visitors alike. And the dreamy setting on the sparkling Adriatic Sea is just the icing on the cake.

Matt and I both agreed that we'd love to come back to Dubrovnik one day and also explore more of Croatia, too.

I'll leave you with this quote by George Bernard Shaw,
"If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik."

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