One Night in Dubrovnik
The night air was warm in Dubrovnik as I walked down the Stradun. The streetlights made the polished marble streets shine as if they were still wet from a washing. The cruisers had all gone for the day and the old town had quieted down. A brief respite from the hustle and bustle. It would all repeat the next day but for now it was quiet. The city had a feeling similar to the one you get after the last guest has left your party. You’re glad they came but you take a few minutes to revel in the calm before you start the clean up.
A few tourists remained strolling the streets of the Old Town with their ice creams, occasionally popping into souvenir shops to buy dried figs or gaudy t-shirts. I was wandering aimlessly and found myself down by the old harbour. Cats dashed across the streets and wound themselves around table legs looking for scraps dropped by distracted diners. There was a hint of salt in the air but not as much as you’d expect from a seaside town.
I heard singing and quickened my step thinking I’d turn the corner and catch a performance of some sort. I passed through the arch that opened up to the harbour. Boats bobbed ever so slightly on the calm sea. A group of men were gathered on one boat tied up at dock, sharing drinks and singing folks songs. Hearty voices rang out so rich and masculine but smooth. This was no tourist performance – they were singing for their own enjoyment. Feeling like an eavesdropper, I couldn’t help but sit on a stone wall and listen, alternating between closing my eyes and looking up at the starry sky.
There was no obvious leader in the group. After each song anyone was free to start up another, people joining in as they pleased. Rowdy songs. Ballads. The laughter of friends. The clink of bottles. During those few moments on that one night in Dubrovnik I experienced something pure Croatian that helped erase some of the jaded feeling that had begun to creep over me after days of endless tour groups, shop after shop of tacky souvenirs and too many restaurants serving the same bland food. Sometimes you can find those little nuggets of authenticity that restore your faith in a destination where and when you least expect it…and it makes all the difference.