Tuesday, December 20, 2016

We Go for an Evening Stroll

We hear the music, and are drawn to it. Like the Pied Piper, I think. Except this is high-pitched intense R&B from an electric guitar, not melodic flute music. We cross the bridge, moving ever closer to the sounds.

We’re in Rome, taking a short walk before retiring for the evening. As we stroll, the sounds draw us on. Our apartment is only a block or so from the river, so we naturally head that way. Once on the bridge, the same one we had crossed a day or two ago on our way to the Vatican, we realize the sounds are coming from the other side.

Immediately in front of us, on the far bank, is a huge cylindrical structure called Castel Saint'Angelo (which is to say, we are on Ponte Saint'Angelo), like a giant wedding cake made of red brick. We pause, crossing the bridge, to admire the sculpted angels spaced every so often along the roadway. The source for the bridge name, perhaps? While we’d crossed here before, this time we are not focused on our destination and spend more time examining the sculptures. Each angel has a distinct personality, and each seems pretty happy (except for that one; I don’t know what his problem is).

Castel Saint'Angelo a summer's day, with people; from Google Street View (not my photo!)
Looking upriver from the Ponte Saint'Angelo...

...and looking downriver
A happy angel on the bridge (well, the statue of an angel)

As we approach the far bank the music stops; it is apparent now there is not a band but only one fellow, sitting at the base of the massive brick wall that forms Castel Saint'Angelo. We follow the river, passing some distance from the guitar player, who is now tuning and plunking the strings. We look across the river, to the city lights – our neighborhood, come to think of it – and downriver, to the next bridge, also well lit. A classic scene in Rome!

We briefly consider crossing back at the next bridge, but that looks too far; drawn by the mysterious music, we’d already come further than we had expected this short evening stroll to take us. We turn around and pass back in front of the monstrous brick castle, lit by the garish orange-yellow light of the sodium vapor street lamps. Actually, I’ve always detested these lights; they seem to steal all the color; impossible to find your parked car when lit by sodium vapor (their popularity in modern cities is due to their extreme efficiency – they use less electric power than almost any other light source – and not for the quality of the light they provide). Yet I learned in Seville that the color exactly compliments the soft, warm tones of ancient stone buildings, making for night scenes that are almost fairy-like.

But this night we are away from the tight lanes and close streets; instead, we face long distances, large areas, few lights, extensive shadows, and dark brick, not light stone. The whole scene is surreal: the lone guitarist, sitting on his substantial amplifier, almost disappearing against the massive wall. And but for him (and us!) the area is deserted. It’s like he is the Last Man on Earth. And to complete the absurdity, we finally see the sign propped up on his tip bucket: “I need money to fix my time machine to get back to the ‘50s.”

Just another night in Rome…

Friday, December 16, 2016

We went Rome'n TAKE TWO!!!

Well, a funny thing happened on the way to publishing this blog: NONE OF THE VIDEOS WORKED!!

Sorry about that, here are links to the vids so you can go directly to the YouTube URL. (And please do, we worked SO hard on putting these together....)

Trevi Fountain:


Roman Forum visit:


We Went Rome'n

Rome December 2016

One opportunity we want to take advantage of while here in Europe is the easier travel times and distances. California to Rome, Italy is a long, expensive trip. Seville to Rome, on the other hand, is a 2-1/2 hour flight...

(All the photos here were taken with an iPhone 5C; still no real camera!)

A funny thing happened on our way to the Forum; we ended up at a Pink Floyd concert!  Well, it wasn't actually Pink Floyd, and it wasn't really a concert. And for that matter we were going to the Trevi Fountain, not the Forum. But we were in Rome…

When we were in Paris a year ago we realized that what really interested us was not so much the famous sights as the interactions we had with people, the amazing contacts and events that seemed to form: Moments, we called them, not Monuments.  For this trip to Rome, though, we figured we focus on the monuments. I mean, there are so many of them! And they’re so famous! Ah, but it seems that moments kept finding us!

As we wound our way through the crowded, narrow streets fending off the usual beggars, vendors, and touts we came upon a large crowd in the street, and the strains of familiar music. Four guys – three guitarists and a drummer – had set up against a building (the music resonates very well on these narrow stone streets). We caught the end of a Pink Floyd number. The next song was “The Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits. Close my eyes and it was Mark Knopfler before us... Amazing! Just amazing. A couple of young women in the crowd caught Paula's eye. That’s music from our youth! Paula told them. To which they responded: For us, too! (even though their “youth” was a few decades after ours!)

The "Pink Floyd Tribute Band" (not their real name); the bass player didn't make it this night
Then the band was done, much to our dismay and that of the large crowd that had gathered. They told us they would be back the next night, same time, same place. (Apparently, there’s some kind of schedule for street musicians.).

We moved on, heading for the fountain. The thing about Rome is that something is happening around every corner – and sometimes in the middle of the street. Everywhere you look there's a monumental building or an ancient column or an old church. Or an impromptu concert. 

Just another picturesque side street in the maze that's Rome!

We began to hear the sounds of water flowing, water falling. The piazza opens up before us, and there is the crowd, moving, smiling, sitting, enjoying. And past them, now clean and white and very well lit, is Il Fontana di Trevi, the Trevi Fountain.

Famed in movies (such as “La Dolce Vita”, which we watched as part of our pre-Rome research), it is one of the best known of Rome's many attractions; where Anita Ekberg plunges into the water in an evening gown, enticing Marcello Mastroianni, somewhat more reluctantly, to join her. Of course, neither Anita nor Marcello was there that night, just a massive crowd, kids running around, flashes going off, selfie sticks waving (half of them being held by vendors, hoping for a sale). But worth it. Totally worth it!

Us in front of the Trevi Fountain

We made the 20-minute walk every night to look at it. Quite apart from the social scene – the hundreds of people hanging out, taking photos, running around – the fountain itself is, ah… surreal? Hardly begins to describe it. Oceanus (Mr. Ocean), a heroic figure in classic Greek style, stands in his sea shell chariot pulled by two winged horses, surfing across the waters of the world while tons of actual water flow out in great profusion across rocks and sculpted exotic plants, finally merging in a broad pool (now littered with coins that people insist on tossing in – yes, we did too!). It’s just a mind bender taking it in, and trying to understand what were they thinking, the “they” that designed and built this thing? How can such a thing even be conceived? And, where else but Rome would a sculpture like this even have a context?

The Tervi Fountain without us (also without Anita and Marcello)
Night after night we came back, to stand in awe and wonder. It wasn’t until our last day that we actually had time to see it in the day. (Nighttime is better. Definitely better!) But, video works better with more light, so check this out:


Our other favorite fountain, closer to “home,” was the Four Rivers Fountain (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) . More compact, less expansive, but no less expressive, and more nuanced, more detailed. Four giant figures, each finely detailed and exquisitely carved, represent major rivers on each of the four continents on which the pope (Innocent X, who sponsored the fountain) had influence: Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

It’s another mind bender! We stopped by there coming and going each day, again to marvel at the designs, the workmanship, the mindset that could conceive of such a thing… and of course at the ego that would actually build it!

Paula models her new coat in front of Il Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

Then one night shortly after sunset (“one night:” sunset was at 4:30!), probably after the “Crazy Diamond” event (referring here to the song by Pink Floyd – keep reading), we came upon Quattro Fiumi in the dusk, with its central obelisk outlined by the darkening sky. The obelisk fit neatly between the dome and towers of the church Sant'Agnese right behind it. It made for a striking, almost heart-stopping presence. It’s an image I’ll carry with me for a long time.

The obelisk of the fountain and the church Saint'Agnese in the day (it was better at night...)

A Funny Thing Happened on Our Way Back From the Forum 

So this time we really did go to the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum, too.  We immersed ourselves in the glory that was Rome, and were blown away by what we found. Just the tiny remnants – the massive tiny remnants – are astonishing, and worked our imaginations. We came back exhausted. Not as badly, though, as we had the day before after visiting the Vatican Museum. (Although the Vatican Museum fatigue had an additional, emotional component: all that enormous talent, all those extremely rare and expensive goods created and collected by and for a few excessively rich and conceited men; first, the Roman Emperors, and later the 15th &16th century popes. Hard to grasp that kind of ego!)

Ceiling in the Vatican Museum passage -- busy, busy, busy!

Entrance to the Vatican Museum, as night falls (and you can still get ice cream even in December!)

Some dome or other (there are so many!) from the Vatican Museum around 4:00PM (sunset!) Note the US Capitol dome is modeled on the same dome...

Then there was the walk home through constant crowds spilling over the narrow sidewalks into the streets. And the beggars and the selfie stick salesmen and the tour guides. Fatiguing!

Here's some things we saw on our way to the Forum...

"Who puts statures on top of buildings, anyway?!" asks Paula. Well, the Romans... (this is the Altare della Patria)

Twins Romulus and Remus, legendary founders of Rome, suckling on a she wolf

That's a bigga statue!
Another big statue (and what's that thing he's holding? It's bigger than me!)
Yet we were fresh from immersing ourselves in what Rome 2000 years ago might (or might not!) have been like: walking down the Via Sacra (the main street of the Forum) probably bore some similarity to our walk back along the Via dei Fori Imperiali (that’s the modern highway running next to the valley of the ancient Forum, leading to the Colosseum, and prominent in the video). It was crowded with people about their business, with no end of entertainers, vendors, and artists (both legit and con artists!) Oh, and tourists! (Just like the ancient Forum, I'm sure.)

Here's a quick video highlighting our arrival from the hill overlooking the Forum, and our walk towards the Colosseum:


The Colosseum, inside view (under the re-created wooden floor is the "back stage" area where acts were prepared)
The Colosseum, outside view (holes once held metal brackets for the marble facing, all torn off during the Middle Ages)

And here's some monuments among the monuments, photos from our visit to the ancient Roman Forum. These were all taken right as the sun was setting. Gotta love that golden sunlight!

We come around yet another corner and there, in the middle of the piazza, surrounded by enthralled observers, is Andrea Bocelli. No, wait – this guy can see. Must be Enrico Caruso. Whomever, he has a hell of a voice! We arrive at the last two minutes of his last aria, and he holds that final note so long I forget to breath and almost pass out. Whew! He thanks the crowd, makes a joke about his house just behind him (actually it's the Pantheon, a massive building from sometime around the zeroth century with the world’s first dome). 

Mr. Opera picks up his portable music player (he doesn’t need much, with that massive amplifier in his chest!) and introduces the next act, who turns out to be our buddy Mr.  Pink Floyd from the previous two nights. But tonight, Sunday, it's much earlier, just after sunset (around 5 PM) and getting dark. He doesn't have his band, but launches into a solo version of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” with the exact musical look and feel of Mr. David Gilmour. The notes, each one sharp, distinct, piercing, resonate and reflect off the high massive stone buildings, taking on an ethereal, haunting quality. The history of the music, our own histories with this music, seems somehow to be mirrored and reflected in the history of this place, in these ancient buildings of Rome. 

We listen for a time, hanging on every note. But it is essentially a low-key song and our fatigue and sore feet finally win out, and so we reluctantly trudge home with Pink Floyd fading in the background. Another Moment among the Monuments.

It was a quick trip, really, just a long weekend, then arrivedercci Roma! But we'll be back. After all, we threw the coins in the fountain, and that guarantees a return!


next up... probably something about Christmas in Sevilla

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Boots of Spanish Leather or These Boots are Made for Walkin’

No, this is not a blog about song titles from the ‘60s. It is actually about footwear. Footwear bought in Spain. Specifically, boots bought in Spain.

Yes, after seven months and some 700 miles of sole abuse our shoes need replacing. In the meantime, we’ve learned some things about what makes for adequate footwear here in Europe. For one thing, roads are rarely smooth. They are often paved with cobblestones, first introduced by the Romans (ok, I’m not at all sure if that’s true, but the Romans started pretty much everything having to do with cities and roads, so why not that, too?). And let’s face it, while cobbles are romantic, ancient and all that, they are not particularly comfortable to walk on (or ride on, or drive on…). So, shoes for cobble walking must be sturdy!

We want thick, solid soles. We also want light weight, and flexibility. And, of course, “un poco de gracia” (while we’re on the theme of oldies): a little grace, a little style.  The shoes here (in Seville, and probably Spain in general) have more than a little grace and style. And, shoes here are certainly available in abundance. Today Paula took me to the shoe store street, a few blocks where every other store is dedicated to shoes. Along the way we passed many other shoe stores. It seems the Spanish must really like shoes, and buy them often, to support this plethora of stores!

While Italy is renowned (oh, I originally wrote renounced; well, maybe that, too) for its shoes, the image that comes to my mind are pointy, stylish but not necessarily comfortable shoes, with thin leather soles, perfect for the thick carpets of, say, a high-end law firm such as Bendini, Lambert and Locke1. But we need something for the mean streets of Seville. And Spain has long been known for its leather. We find shoes with soft, supple uppers, in both classic and high-fashion styles. Some also have soft, supple soles. Uh oh, I already have some shoes with soft supple soles, and they are NOT good for cobble walking! I need something light, supple, and thick. And given all the stores, it doesn’t take long to find ‘em.

1OK, that's the law firm Mitchell "Mitch" McDere worked for in "The Firm", John Grisham's 1991 novel that was later made into a film starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. And didn't you already know that?

Later, on the way home, we stumble on what I take to be the city’s crèche, its Nativity display. Only this crèche fills an entire building! It is, in fact, a diorama that seems to cover all of Palestine, showing every aspect of life in year 0AD (or 1AD, depending on how you figure it). Inns, donkeys, bakeries with loaves of bread, vegetable gardens, blacksmiths, people coming and going. Private houses and public buildings. It was a marvel, and, for us, completely unexpected.

The Grand Finale of the Seville City Creche scene, presented here first

Now, these last two are different. they are full-size recreations of what the village where Jesus was born might have looked like...

Here's a full-sise, but non-functional, bakery oven

All in all, quite extraordinary!

After seeing it I better understand the Christmas Market, a series of portable buildings around the Cathedral. They are completely devoted to miniature people, plants, animals, and scenes from the birth of Christ and the lands around. Some are highly detailed, very well done, and marvelous; others are whimsical and cartoon-like. Some are animated, with an arm going up and down that ends up being a carpenter hammering, or a farmer raking, or someone fishing with a pole, or women shaking out rugs. Little flickering bulbs make realistic fires in bread ovens or open hearths. Presumably the good citizens of Seville buy these figures, most 3 or 4 inches high, to create their own nativity scenes, no doubt augmenting them each holiday season (“Oh, let’s get some sheep this year, and maybe a donkey!”) But the town’s official Nativity scene is truly something to behold!

Looks like baked goods here

Vegetables and garden tools

Clouds and Rain: cotton clouds have tiny spray nozzles to get things wet

A huge selection of plants and animals, benches and other furniture, in many styles and forms

Later, in the evening, we go out again, me in my new stylish boots. We head to the store Paula has already identified, and after no more than the usual trying on, testing, checking, and deciding, we leave with Paula’s new boots in a bag.

We decide to swing by the cathedral, just to see what’s up. We had already noticed the streets were jammed, people everywhere, of all ages. Mom and Dad with the kids; young folks cruising; older folks hobbling. EVERYone was out and about! And we noted that some of the bars and cafes that always had patrons spilling into the streets were nearly empty this night; everyone was out promenading.

A side street in Seville

La Giralda with Christmas lights
Avenida Constitution and masses of people (Cathedral on the right)

So what’s going on? Tomorrow (December 8th) is a major holiday, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a major even on the calendar of the Catholic Church, and one of the top three or four holidays in Spain. And, the city has turned on the Christmas lights! (Sorry, my camera is still broken, and the cell phone takes lousy night-time photos.) So the entire population is out, enjoying the warm evening, admiring the lights, cruising in and out of the many shops open (including all those shoe stores), and just gearing up for the holiday season.

We wandered over to the cathedral, marveling at the crowds and the relaxed intensity of the energy (does that phrase even make sense?). A couple of years ago we were in New York City around this time of year; last year we were in Paris. Here it’s different; the energy feels mellow, embracing, not frantic or hard-edged. The cathedral is open; normally there is an entry fee. Tomorrow evening there will be a special High Mass for the faithful; it is sure to be well attended. Tonight most areas inside the Cathedral are blocked off as preparations continue for tomorrow, but the cathedral really is huge, so there is still lots of floor space to cover.

Eventually we’ve had our fill of indoor strolling, of admiring the huge carvings, the massive pillars, the ceiling so far above us I expect rain clouds to gather. Besides, my new boots are not yet broken in, and Paula has not had time to admire her new boots. Time to head home along the brightly lit, packed streets and prepare for tomorrow evening’s ceremonies.

Ha! You thought I forgot! Yes, here's photos of the new boots....

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Welcome to Seville! ¡Bienvenidos a Sevilla!

Welcome to Sevilla!

Well, we’re off to a slow start here, since we’ve been in Seville for over a week already. We’re only now coming out of mourning. First disaster: I dropped my wonderful and very compact (and expensive!) camera on the all-too-solid marble floor. The lens made a half-hearted attempt to extend, and only got part way out, over and over. I took it in to a fellow here in Seville who had already repaired a minor problem, but he could do nothing. Bit of depression on my part! Then, a couple days later we got the election results. It’s been a tough time so far. While the long-term consequences remain to be seen, in the short term I am reduced to using my cell phone camera. (Please forgive the reduced quality!)
However, we are feeling a bit recovered, and ready to tell the story of our trip (so far) in Spain. But, where to begin?

Why, at the beginning, of course.
“Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
-- Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

It began when the taxi picked us up at the airport and dropped us off in front of an amazing confection of a church. The rain had stopped, the night was clean and warm, everything glistening under the light reflected from the brightly-lit buildings. “It’s just down this way,” the driver told us in passable English, indicating the location of our pension. So we took our two roller bags, our bulging backpacks, our laptops, and assorted other items we seem to always travel with, and headed down the street.

Our first view of our neighborhood in Seville; we eventually identified this as Iglesia de San Ildefonso

We were thrilled to be here! It was gorgeous, full of light and life, with people (many towing luggage and consulting maps) coming, going, and staying – sitting in cafes, or standing transfixed by the churches and other sights. The taxi drove off, and we headed confidently down the street, to stop almost immediately wondering if the driver meant continue down this street, that curved slightly to the left, or that street, that turned slightly more sharply to the left?

In short, we were immediately confused.

We made a fundamental mistake here: since we were taking a taxi, a rare event for us, we assumed the driver would know his way around, and so we did not need to know exactly where we were going, the address would be sufficient. What we did not know was that
  a) this part of Seville is a warren of tiny streets running every which way, impossible to negotiate without some knowledge of the area (or at least, maybe some daylight?) and
  b) the taxi driver had only a vague idea where he was going.

Some time later, sweat-soaked and exhausted, we arrived at the pension where we were to spend the night. Whew! Lesson: ALWAYS know where you’re going, have it marked on a map /mobile app /GPS waypoint. CHECK THE NEIGHBORHOOD on Google street view, to get an overview, and to recognize where we’re going when we get there. (And when taking a taxi, find a hotel near your destination and give THAT to the driver!)

The next morning, well rested and recovered, we moved a few blocks away into our apartment where we’ll live for the next three months; unpacked our bags, and started exploring the neighborhood.

We live down a street something like this!

And WHAT a neighborhood! We’re really stoked to be here! Incredible narrow streets and old, towering buildings. Tapas bars on every corner. People filling the bars, eating, drinking, talking, spilling out into the roadway, having a good time. Lively, very lively!

Typical Sunday in Seville. Lively, very lively!

And then, a ten-minute walk from the apartment, we came upon the cathedral. Technically, it’s the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See [not Sea!] (Catedral de Santa María de la Sede) but everyone knows it as the Seville Cathedral. It’s stunning. World’s third largest cathedral, largest cathedral in the Gothic style, started in 1402, finished in 1506, blah blah blah. An amazing sight!

The bell tower was built by the Moors, who occupied this area for 500 years; it was originally the minaret of the mosque that preceded the cathedral. The two together are emblematic of the fascinating architecture of the Andalusian region (the south of Spain), a complex and incredibly interesting blend of the Islamic and the Christian.

The bell tower, AKA La Giralada

One of the Cathedral doors. Fne, intricate work like this is EVERYWHERE

We arrived on Friday night; Sunday morning was sunny and beautiful, and the residents of Seville were out in force, families strolling, and everyone everywhere eating, drinking, and enjoying the weather and the relaxed way of life here. But I shall save thousands of words here and defer to this very special video we put together. (Is a video worth a thousand pictures? Does that make 1,000,000 words?)

If the video doesn’t play, click on this, or go directly to the URL:


Clearly we’re not at the end yet, but still we must stop, for the moment. More on the neighborhood, and the architecture, and the tapas, later!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bye Bye Dubrovnik

Well, we've been in Seville, Spain for over a week now. In our excitement to get acquainted with our new city, we have overlooked the blog. This entry was obviously written a while ago (mostly), but it is time to close this chapter, and make room for what's up next.
Here in Dubrovnik the days are getting shorter, the weather colder. Winter's coming. Time to travel on.Yet we are very reluctant to let go of Dubrovnik. It’s really got a hold on us! Friendly, helpful people with a good sense of humor and a nearly incomprehensible language. Ancient walled cities with endless stairs going up and up. That fantastic blue sea lapping against the pine-fringed rocks. Olive oil! Garlic.  Some fine beers (yah, Karlovačko!), and great wine that we are only just beginning to discover.

While our thoughts are drawn ever more frequently to what we will find in Spain, we still have a list of things to do here:

·       Get in the water. Yes, amazingly, we have yet to even dip a toe in the blue Adriatic (with a reported temperature of 72 degrees! Eat your hearts out, Californians…)
·       Climb the hill overlooking the city. There’s a cable car to the top, but I’m intrigued by the path that zig zags up the face of the hill. Must be good views from up there, too! (Maybe we’ll take the cable car back down.)
·       Visit the walls – after weeks of indecision, we want to walk along the top of the walls, about 2km all the way around. After all, that’s the main attraction here in Dubrovnik, worth the $18USD entry fee!

Done! We climbed the walls. And had a very interesting Moment…  In a sheltered alcove along the walls we came across an older man painting. He was surrounded by watercolors and acrylics for sale that he had painted. We sat and rested on the adjacent bench, and Paula began talking to him. We found that like most Croatians he liked to talk, and was quite friendly towards us. He was born in Dubrovnik, and had seen major changes in the last decade. As the tourist industry increased, people began moving out of the old town, building houses in the surrounding area (and indeed, many of the houses in the area appear to be relatively new). Some sold their homes inside the walls and bought two houses outside the walls. Places inside the old town were converted to guest houses, or divided into apartments for vacationers.
He then told us he now lives in the Lapad area, and meets every morning with his buddies at a café. He carefully described the location, and invited us to join them, saying they were easy to find, as they made a lot of noise. So, the next morning we showed up at the café around 9:30. He was stunned! We weren’t invited into his inner circle or anything, but it was fun to show up. And, the cappuccinos were fabulous! (We did get lots of tangerines, too; seems that one fellow had a tree full of them and was giving them to everybody he met.)
King's Landing... er, Dubrovnik seen from the walls

Paula studies the city from atop the wall
Us on the wall, with the island of Locrum behind

Lovrijenac Fortress on the left; a bit of Tvrđava Bokar visible on the right. In between, what some call Blackwater Bay

I think that’s it, for things not done. We had some others, but find ourselves lacking in ambition, after spending August and September moving on every few days.  The coast here, and the coastal islands, is full of places to explore, with no end of ancient, walled cities.

We’ve visited a few of these walled cites. Dubrovnik, the most extensive and best preserved, well deserves its reputation as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” But Split has walls too, and so does Hvar (a city on the island of Hvar we visited on the way back from our trip to Split). Yesterday we took a bus tour to Kotor, a bit to the south in the neighboring country of Montenegro, located on the only true fjord on the Adriatic (and probably the entire Mediterranean). And Kotor has some very impressive walls, climbing impossibly steep mountain slopes.

The city of Hvar (on the island of the same name), and the old fort, Tvrđava - Fortica

The astonishing city walls of Kotor, in Montenegro

After a time, though, I must admit that the charm of old stone buildings with high city walls begins to wear thin. When everybody’s got ‘em, they just become, well, ordinary!

While the walls were essential when they were built, today things are different. Stone walls are useless in keeping out invaders, and the whole idea of “invasion” has changed. Now, sometimes an invasion is welcomed; such as the invasion of tourists to the Old Town of Dubrovnik every time a tour ship arrives…

Things do change. Dubrovnik, in spite of (in addition to!) its ancient history, embraces the modern. An example: we went to a TED talk, in Dubrovnik. The theme was “Living Tomorrow.” Which implies moving beyond today.

A day of TED talks! How exciting! And it was held in the old, highly-decorated theater! We’ve got a box on the third level! So thrilling! Oh, wait, oh, wait, all the talks are in Croatian. Well one was in English. Sigh. Let’s leave…

TEDx Dubrovnik was held in the historic theater; our box is right over the entrance

TEDx Dubrovnik, view from our box
Actually, the one in English, presented by an American woman who teaches English at the American university, fascinated me. It was about the changes English is undergoing as it becomes a universal language; people all over the world use English, or a form of it. English is constantly changing and adapting, and in different ways in different areas. This is particularly interesting to us as we travel through non-English-speaking countries. There are now many forms of English; the version of MS Word I’m using to write this lists 18 varieties of English that may be used in the spell checker. If you have a later version, it will have more.
What good is the semicolon today, anyway? Why, we need it to make emoticons!
Paula contacted the young woman who had sold us the tickets. She was quite concerned that we could not understand most of the speakers, and in compensation offered us a personal tour of the Old City. She was born and grew up inside the walls, and gave us some insights into the origins, history, and life in Dubrovnik. It was a very special evening!

A gorgeous sunset for our last tour of the Old City

Looking down the remarkably uncrowded  main street, Stradun, in late October

Yes, we will miss Croatia; the history, the hills, the fine people, the great views. But we will come back. Oh, yes, we will!

Even in our last few days around Dubrovnik, we were discovering picturesque lanes and hidden gardens

But this is the image we will always remember, the ocean view from our terrace!

Next up: Sevilla, Spain!