Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Dubrovnik to Amsterdam

July 14th, Dubrovnik to Amsterdam

Our flight to Amsterdam leaves midafternoon so we spend the morning in Dubrovnik. We find a tourist cafe and order their set breakfast menu and our usual three cappuccinos. It’s almost impossible to find anyplace other than a tourist restaurant inside the old city and we endure the bad service and mediocre fare. Our waitress fauns over the locals at an adjoining table making the slight all the more obvious.

Marty on the 'Walk of Atonement' staircase. 

We visit the ‘Walk of Atonement’ staircase one last time and have the staircase all to ourselves. Dubrovnik is a port for many cruise lines and in an hour the city will be crawling with tourists.

Staircase leading to the upper plaza. 
View down the staircase

One of the many things that I love and admire about our son John is his good disposition and his interest in absolutely everything.  Our Dubrovnik cards are valid for another few hours so John suggests we go to the Cultural and Historical Museum before driving to the airport. The two floor museum is great; the exhibits span many centuries of Yugoslavian, Bosnian and Croatian history. Most poignant to me are the photos of the Croatian War of Independence, the civil war fought between 1991 and 1995.

We stroll back towards our guest room and car via the wide and fashionable shopping promenade. A mixture of couture and tourist shops line the ancient polished limestone marble street. I spot a sign to a coral factory and we dart up a narrow street to visit the workshop.

Marty in the coral workshop

Close up of Oxblood Coral Horns

Workbench at the Coral workshop
The showroom is on one side of the steep street and the workshop just across from it. Red oxblood Mediterranean coral horn is a deep sea coral, extremely hard and easily carved and fashioned into jewelry. For years, at world class museums around the world, I have admired remarkable religious chalices and renaissance and baroque jewelry featuring the red coral horns. Naturally the salesmen in the workshop hopes to sell me a piece of jewelry and they give us a long and careful explanation of both the harvesting process and the jewelry-making techniques. I want to purchase a small and ornate horn but the best ones have already been incorporated into jewelry designs and I have not researched the price per gram prior to my visit to this workshop so I leave with only photographs.

Goodbye view of  Dubrovnik
Art maneuvers our rental car out of the tight parking space and we merge into bumper to bumper traffic and search for the coastal road south to the Dubrovnik airport. The view of Dubrovnik behind us is postcard perfect and I reflect on the near perfect 24 hours we spent in there. Once again, we have managed to squeeze the most out of a short amount of time and I am ready to begin our next adventure in Amsterdam. We pass airport souvenir shops and I wonder if I should have purchased a Game of Thrones T-shirt. I am amused at the abandoned water bottles along the terminal windows of the airport security check.

Abandon water bottles at airport security
Last chance to buy Game of Throne souvenirs

Our plane lands in Amsterdam late afternoon and we stop at the airport tourist information bureau to purchase the three day I Amsterdam Card which gives us three days of unlimited train and metro rides plus discounted entrance to many of the museums. Art is very good at figuring out metro stops and schedules and we are quickly onboard a train towards the Arena district on the outskirts of Amsterdam where I have reserved a room for four nights.

Garett guest room in Dubrovnik
Luxurious Amsterdam Hotel

The hotel is modern and our room bright and quite luxurious especially in comparison to the guest room we stayed in last night. Unfortunately, John’s bed is more of a converted window seat but he takes this in stride and after quick showers we make the 30 minute train ride into the heart of Amsterdam. It is always exciting to be in a new city and Amsterdam is bustling tonight. We walk from our metro stop towards the Red Light district passing many cafes and bars and window shopping along the way. I have been to Amsterdam several times before and it comes as no surprise to me to see window displays of sex toys and drug paraphernalia along side of clothing boutiques and sex workers. Provocative woman stand in windows, advertising their wares. I sense that both Art and John feel slightly uncomfortable walking in this district with me but this is all a part of the adventure of travel.

Cool off with a Cannabis Drink

Sensi seeds for sale in Amsterdam

The lighted canals shimmer in the glow of the evening and we crisscross many canals as we get our bearings.

Amsterdam canals in the evening light 
We eventually settle on an Argentinian restaurant for dinner. The fare is mostly red meat, a change from much of what we have been eating on this trip. Art and John eat heartily but the chicken entree I choose is mediocre at best. Once again it is the red table wine that saves my meal.

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