There was so much to talk about, having not seen one another for so long and Kay powered through the jet lag and lack of sleep to regale me me with never-ending amazing stories of her travels, the history and the geography of the nine countries she had visited. I was in awe that my baby had successfully negotiated half the world and had so much to tell. It was great to have her home in one piece.
We could not relax or chat for long, as we were planning a trip together in less than 36 hours. On Tuesday we were off to Dubrovnik in Croatia. Kay had been invited to a work colleague's wedding out there - a three-day Indian wedding, which she was keen not to miss, as Indian weddings are lavish affairs. When she had started to book her flights for Dubrovnik, she had hit on the idea that maybe I could tag along too (not for the wedding, as obviously I had not been invited) to have a look around Dubrovnik together for a few days before the wedding. I immediately jumped at the chance. As a widow and lacking in any surviving relatives, apart from Kay, I don't get the chance to go on holiday, unless I go alone, which is something I don't particularly relish at the moment.
The plan was that we would fly out on Tuesday. I would then fly back alone on Friday while Kay would stay on with other friends coming out for the wedding at the weekend. Kay would fly back to London today, as she starts a new job on Wednesday 1 August - talk about rushing from one thing to another with only a day between!
I have been to Dubrovnik before. A long time ago in 1984 with Greg. At that time Dubrovnik was part of Yugoslavia and Communist. I fell in love with the town at the time. Its red roofs, traffic-free lanes and medieval walls captured my imagination and stole my heart. We stayed at the time in the Hotel Imperial (now the Hilton - that's what happens with the breakdown of communism) just within spitting distance of the medieval Pile gate and from our room had breathtaking views of the red roofs encapsulated by grey thick castle walls. I had never forgotten it and it ranked as the most romantic place I had ever been to. How could I give up a chance to revisit it?
It did not disappoint. I fell in love all over again. The town had not changed much in some ways but there were differences too. There were pock marks from shells - a reminder of the Homeland War in 1991-95 which we learned a lot about and which I recall from the news at the time. Croatia had spent a lot of money patching things up. Also, when I had visited before the shops were very subdued, all had the same things for sale at the same prices as it was controlled by the communist state. Now there is a much more colourful, vibrant atmosphere. But the buildings are still preserved in their medieval splendour and Dubrovnik's nickname of "Pearl of the Adriatic" still applies. The only thing I did not like was the overwhelming mass of tourists which at times were shoulder to shoulder along the main thoroughfare. (But then it was July when most schools are on holiday throughout Europe.) Probably the best times to come are April, May or September. Note for the future.
It's true to say I fell in love all over again.
|The pearl of the Adriatic
|Those attractive red roofs
|The medieval walls
|More red roofs
|The town fountain
|A typical alleyway with hundreds of steps
|The Imperial Hotel (now Hilton)
|A sneaky pina colada on the last evening