Sunday, May 22, 2011

Napoleon's Grotto Bar

So literally after posting the last blog entry, another adventure began. After a full day shift at the hostel I grabbed a beer with David our local french temp worker. David was an ex-office monkey who decided to kick the old lifestyle and enjoy life on the road for a while, so he joined us at Fresh Sheets for a little evening moonlighting before heading off to Italy in chase of a pretty Brazilian girl. Anyways to celebrate his last night we decided to hit up "Galerija", a place renowned for being the closest thing to what "Fresh* Travelers bar" was back in it's heyday. Anyway it was a saturday but I could tell due to the vibe in the bar amongst the hostel travelers that they weren't feeling it.

I had a bit of a flashback to my previous days in Dubrovnik. Lately the town has been a ghost town at night, with little to no nightlife aside from the usual techno-banging clubs. The town has needed an alternative for a while now with little respite to the situation in the near future.

Anyways during my epiphany I remembered a little place my friend Colin Hughes dragged me off to back in 2007.

Under the Revelin Fort on the east side of the old city is an underground grotto that used to be the secret entrance into the city for officials and special VIP's. One could row their dinghy right into the old port, into this grotto and enter the steps into the "Labyrinth" so that they could avoid the crowds, masses or assassination attempts. Odds are people the likes of Napoleon, Franz Ferdinand and members of the Habsburg Empire would transit the grotto often to avoid unnecessary public attention.

Anyways the lousy nightlife situation needed a remedy and quick. The group was quickly losing their attention, the night was getting late and so with quick thinking I bolted up to the hostel to grab a handful of candles and a few cans of orphaned beer from the hostel fridge.

As I led the group along, through the city past two or three busy but lousy techno night clubs, I could see the look of curiosity on the face of the group as we wandered through the city, past the clubs, through the back parking lost and into the boat yard, then onto rickety but very conveniently placed scaffolding. You could see the sense of curiosity turn to wonder as the group realized just where we were going... into our own private underground venue.

As I lit the candles and the light started to reveal the inside of the grotto, beers were handed out, an iphone started to play some music on it's speaker, everyone found a seat and the conversation started to flow. It's amazing what happens when everybody feels comfortable in the right setting. Turns out one of the girls worked for CBC radio francais, the other lead backpacking tours through the Appalachian mountains during the summer. One scottish fellow (dressed in kilt and all) played the bag pipes, David was a suit who saw the light and Amanda a student traveling before she starts architecture school in Italy. And me, a pain in the ass photographer who decided it would be a great time to snap some low light shots.

A few beers, photos and conversations later it had all set. Ten strangers staying at the hostel had all bonded during this wild little field trip under the city. We had partied in Napoleons grotto and had the friends to prove it.

The night went on and time passed until it was decided it was time to retire. The walk home as a group was much different from the walk earlier as individuals. A good time was had by all and I know that I can guarantee it is a story many of the travelers will be sharing with their grandchildren.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Fraser,
    Marla put me on to your travel blog. I'll be staying in Dubrovnik for 6 days so looking forward to reading about and seeing the great places you are exploring. She also said you recommended we do a Dalmatian Dinner where we can experience Croatian cuisine, wine and culture. Was it the Olive Garden Ranch near Split/Trogir? I posted info for the flotilla on Look forward to following your blog.