The Liberty Gazette
July 10, 2018Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Last year we received a full refund from everyone we had paid for our Croatia vacation when Hurricane Harvey came to maul South Texas. Air France, Airbnb, even the ferry services and the Dubrovnik Symphony were sympathetic and helpful. Whenever you’re ready, we look forward to welcoming you, they all said.
I’d been so excited about the Dubrovnik Symphony that I vowed our future trip would be planned around it. And so it was.
When we decided to take the trip in May, the first place we consulted was the Dubrovnik Symphony calendar. Often, they perform in the atrium of Rector’s Palace, an intimate setting with, we’re told, amazing sound. But on Friday, May 11, the musicians would gather at the Museum of Modern Art and offer their beautiful sound in the open air patio. This would be youth night, where four outstanding high school students would perform solo pieces, with the symphony backing them up. We had second-row seats.
With a gentle, fatherly kind of smile, Maestro Noam Zur, an Israeli, stretched out his arms to welcome each of the teens in turn up to the front to play their piece. I thought of our Fine Arts Society of Liberty Texas and the scholarships we would soon be sending out. These Croatian kids, like the ones here in our area, are incredibly talented and I fell in love with the city and their symphony as I knew I would.
My sister, too, fell in love with Dubrovnik when she visited 30-some years ago, when the country was part of Yugoslavia. She told us about the old wall and the sheer beauty of the city. She was right.
Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic, is a medieval city with a medieval infrastructure and street network. Fortresses, canons, and 13-foot-wide limestone walls have protected citizens inside since the 12th century. The walls have never been breached by an enemy and were about all that was left standing after the 1667 earthquake. We climbed the steps 80 feet to the top to join others from around the world on a leisurely 1.2 mile walk above the city
What a beautiful view! Red roofs on ancient stone architecture in varied shades of white, all built at different times after the earthquake, reflect the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Massive monasteries and elaborate cathedrals attract. Shops and restaurants flank the wide main street of polished stone and are tucked into romantic, narrow alleyways. The gardens here would make any master gardener jealous. And the steps—oh, the steps! Dubrovnik is built on steps in an intricate and complex system of forts, bastions, casemates, and towers. We’re not TV-watchers, but they say a show called Game of Thrones is or was filmed here.
Lovrijenac Fortress, just outside the city walls, rises from a 121-foot-high cliff. Adriatic waves rippled in the harbor. Kayaks and sailboats dotted the seascape for a postcard view at any angle. Croatia has captured my heart.