Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Grand Hotel

You must be wondering whether I am still alive and kicking in the great country of Croatia. The answer is "Yes". Tourist season is in full swing therefor I have been swamped with work, leading tours to Lokrum Island and swimming as much as I can in the fine adriatic sea.

So far the season has been busy. The hostel has been experiencing near full capacity every night and it's just the beginning of June. From what I hear July and August will be 100% full straight through until September. Should make for an interesting summer.

As humans we love to piss and moan about the weather. And this blog post is no exception. From what I hear Vancouver has been having a bit of a rough start to the spring with mostly rainy days since I had left. I have been periodically checking out the "Kat Kam" over english bay and I can't say I am jealous of the weather.

And ready for the bitching... In Dubrovnik it has been 30 degrees all week. Mostly sun with a bit of cloud, but as of two days ago the humidity ramped up to 92% today... so it's a little warm walking up the 125 steps to the hostel each afternoon. Thankfully there has been a steady breeze to prevent me from drowning in my own sweat.

Anyways last week I managed to rent a car with Jon to go get supplies for the hostel and pick up some things for my apartment. Croatian drivers put canadian drivers to shame with their car handling skills. Instead of feet, croatians seems to drive in "inches" leaving very little to no room for other drivers on their narrow roads. Not to mention they drive FAST. Which works well for me, as I can shrug the speed but I have good car handling abilities. We pushed our way east to Kupari to pick up supplies when Jon mentioned we should take a look at the abandoned "Grand Hotel" complex.

We parked the car and took a short walk along a pathway. The beach was beautiful and sun was shining. One thing I should mention is the fact that Dubrovnik was involved in the conflict in the 90's but most of the damaged in all areas of the city has been repaired. If you were to visit Dubrovnik, you'd be hard pressed to find anything that had any remnants of war.

As we walked down the path, I was stunned to see the hidden part of the war in Dubrovnik. There was the old hotel complex that was once used as a place for soldiers and their families to vacation along the adriatic coast... it was completely destroyed, riddled with holes form artillery shells, everything flammable on the building had burned. Even the hand rails, once used for steadying the step of the pedestrians was riddled with shrapnel.Once a nice building, rendered to a now useless structure. And it was not the only one, the other three hotels in the complex were all as equally damaged. It felt like I was walking through a ghost town. You could almost hear the kids playing on the beach and the families sitting at the cafe eating ice cream and drinking coffee. A very eerie feeling.

The last part of the exploration brought us to the "Grand Hotel". Designated the fancier hotel, it still had a feeling of elegance that was hard to match in the other hotels. Then again not much of it too was left after the war.

It was quite a surprise to get to see a new side of Dubrovnik I have never been exposed to, yet was a bit dumbfounded that this had been in our backyard the whole time yet I had never taken the time to see it. One thing I notice about Dubrovnik, if you are willing to shed an ear and listen or explore a little and get lost... you will always learn or see something new each day. It's a city full of secrets.