Dubrovnik Dairies – The Laundry Line

Laundry

I have the city to one side and the sea on another, but my eyes are locked on to this window. It opens out to the walkway on the wall, unwittingly inviting a stream of tourists in. I can’t imagine living with this kind of pressure, let alone drying out my laundry for the world to see.

Three rope strings hold half a wardrobe, white sheets and vests hide the intimates ever so slightly. Multicoloured clips stand in a crooked line, their uneven teeth clamped tightly over the cloth.

When the sea pushes a slight breeze inwards, the line sways and so do the clean clothes. Maybe it’s just in my head but I catch a whiff of aromatic detergent.

A butterfly of guilt flits about but I can’t move away before taking a picture. A few feet below me a black cat scurries over sprigs of lavender and past ancient stones, the very things that make this city special, and yet it is this seemingly mundane shot that I can’t tear away from.

Dubrovnik Dairies – On the Walls

Walls

I can see the city from here. Not just the fresh paint and the spruced up cafes along Stradun, but the building behind the building behind the building on the main street; the forgotten corner behind the cathedral and market; the rotting wall with a wild garden bursting through – the lavender springs swaying in the breeze; the white underwear drying on the laundry line. I can see the city from up here.

On the streets they sell souvenirs and coax you to step into their restaurants. From the walls I watch them cook and clean, and study through far away windows that aren’t that far.

Between the walls a card game is in session. The men sitting on garden chairs, their tools taking a break – the half finished roof is wet. On an old terrace, three bakas sit with their backs to broken pots and boxes, weaving intricate patterns that their daughters will later sell at the market. They laugh loudly at a joke I don’t understand.

Along the back alleys, I can see the remains of leftover food put out for the cats. The cats are fat, almost scary. They amble along with pregnant tummies past the boys in baggy jeans. These boys, barely thirteen, have obnoxious laughs. They smirk and heckle at the steam of tourists; misplaced adult bravado fueled by the cigarettes they’ve sneaked out. Nobody understands a word they say.

From the wall I see the gaps, the corners and the cracks of Dubrovnik. They are beautiful.

Dubrovnik Dairies – Versatile Stairways

Arch

The stairs are endless, one after the other after the other, rising in steady, disciplined movements; they aren’t uniform, jutting out here, dipping a little there, and chipped in places, but this shouldn’t be confused for chaos. It’s character.

They pop up everywhere: in tight alleys, managing to squeeze in the entire set where there isn’t room for a full breath; unfurling in front of white stoned churches; up along the walls, opening up a world of terracotta roofs and spires that touch both sea and sky; catching the waves by the water, chubby and pensive.

They are everywhere, climbing into structures – into souvenir stores and apartments, and past kitchens– latching to the sides, sagging slightly under the weight of tourists and their easy-wheel bags. They run all around the old town, in every direction, veins pumping in life-sustaining tourists.

But the stairs of Dubrovnik aren’t just one-trick ponies. They are stairs. They are restaurants. They are cafes. They are souvenir stores. They are adverts. They are kitchen gardens. They are direction boards. They are playgrounds. They are rest stops. They are break rooms. They are many things, and then some.

If you let them lead, they’ll show you, one foot after the other. One foot after the other.

Dubrovnik Diaries: Through the Gate

Dubrovnik

I’m not giving in to the hype. I’ve seen white stone before. I’ve seen the orange rooftops. I’ve seen walls. I’ve seen the Adriatic. I won’t be swayed by Dubrovnik. I’ll be objective – see all her short comings, and call her out on every single one. I won’t be swayed by Dubrovnik.

From my first glimpse of the town through the airport shuttle – the old walls gently draped around the town’s shoulder, the boats, looking like playthings from that distance, sitting in neat rows in the marina, and the water, a sharp blue expanse that met the sky somewhere along the way – to the minute I walked through the Pile Gate, past the street artists sitting at the corner selling local silhouettes, and the UNESCO board with a map pinpointing shrapnel damage suffered during the war, into the old town, I knew being ‘objective’ was out of the question. These white stones were different.