THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JAMES A. BONDOUX

CROATIA AND THE ADRIATIC



We finally made it to the Dalmatian Coast, after years of having it on our "must do" list. And it was well worth the wait, as we had a nearly perfect experience: a two-week cruise aboard the five-masted WIND SURF starting and ending in Venice, with excellent September weather throughout. Well, almost – on our first day there was a white-knuckle ride in a water taxi from the airport to our hotel across the Venetian lagoon raked by winds and sheeting rain!

In the last two millennia the eastern Adriatic coast has been overrun by the Romans, the Hungarians, the Croatians, the Venetians, the Ottomans, the Austrians, the French, the Italians… more than once in some cases… and there have been centuries of conflict between Serbs, Slovenes, Croats, and so on. The result is that every port of call exhibited its own special hodgepodge of stone ramparts, monuments, churches, narrow winding streets, and houses in various architectural styles.

Our walks through these colorful and generally small old towns were punctuated by discoveries, such as an unusual cathedral, or a twisting cobbled street coming to a dead end, or a long and narrow stone stairway between tall stone walls ending at a small cemetery with breathtaking views of the sea, or a Roman temple or stone gate, or an old well, or simply a bright café serving espresso and from which we could watch the locals pass by while catching our breath.

We rode a bus to the Postonja Caves in Slovenia, possibly the world’s largest cave system, accessed via a long underground train ride, and another bus up the narrow, winding road (17 switchbacks!) above Kotor, in Montenegro to see the so-called “palace“ of King Nicola in Cetinje.

We hired a taxi to take us from the Croatian city of Pula (large Roman amphitheatre) to Rovinj, a Venetian-style fishing town. We explored the narrow streets and underground chambers of the huge Diocletian’s Palace in Split. Diocletian, a local boy, made good and became Roman Emperor. He had this huge castle built, in which he spent his retirement persecuting Christians….

A highlight, of course, was the walk on the top of the fortification wall at Dubrovnik, which we crowned with a very good lunch overlooking the Old Port. We strolled Hvar, Korcula, Rab, Trogir, Sibenik, and Zadar , each special in its own way and making it hard to favor one over the next, although perhaps Korcula remains the brightest highlight in our memories.

We had hoped that Richard and Leslie would join us on the outbound leg, and that Michael and Katherine would take their places on the return from Dubrovnik to Venice. Didn’t happen, for unavoidable reasons in both cases.

I was grateful for the elaborate satellite broadband service aboard the WIND SURF, and I developed a serious internet habit on this cruise, as it coincided with the infamous Lehman Brothers failure and emergency bailout legislation back home.


Captain

Obligatory pose with Captain Jan Ove Lidal (on the left) at the Captain’s reception.





Rovinj

Rovinj. You can tell this was built by Venetians, as the sea comes right up to the front of the houses.

Market Vendor

Market day in Rovinj. This vendor is offering adzes and other basic farm implements.

Kotor Heights

Overlooking the Bay of Kotor. The WIND SURF is at anchor below.

Pula

The locals in Pula call it the Arena. It is the sixth largest surviving Roman amphitheatre in the world, and one of the best preserved. During WWII Mussolini wanted to pull it down and move it to Italy. The staggering cost of the project killed that idea.

Venice

View from our room at the Palazzo Sant'Angelo, looking up the busy Grand Canal toward the Rialto.



The Ship

The 600-foot, 300-passenger WIND SURF at anchor We had a very spacious suite.

Dubrovnik

The "Stradun" viewed from the top of the town walls. This main drag was a canal in Roman times. It's well past tourist season, yet throngs stroll this old-world mall.

Korcula

This house in Korcula is said to be Marco Polo's birthplace in 1254. A striking town on a green island with vineyards.

Split

The busy produce market outside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace in Split.

Sibenik

One of the 74 heads decorating the exterior perimeter of the 15th century St. Jacob’s Cathedral in Sibenik. The architect used prominent townspeople as his models.