Long Day Flying…but worth it
Our flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam was 7.5 hrs, with a small layover before the next flight to Belgrade, Serbia. From Belgrade we flew into Dubrovnik. Total hours since leaving Minneapolis airport was about 16.
While flying from Belgrade to Dubrovnik, I sat in the window seat and observed what was going on below us and in the sky. The land was amazing, with beautiful mountains that were full of green trees and rivers,lakes and divided up farm land! It reminded me of the beauty we have in this world and never know about it until it is brought to us by travel! I had no idea about Serbia’s climate or landscape. What beauty!
As I watched the beautiful landscape underneath the plane, we soon came into huge cumulus clouds. My mind immediately went to my family that has passed and are out in our universe, watching and hopefully guiding me along on all my travels. I felt their presence in the clouds, as if they were saying,”Good for you!! Travel and see the world. We are right here to experience it with you!” They each surfaced in my emotions with stories to tell as we climbed, walked, swam and drove our way across Croatia and Montenegro.
Somewhere above Serbia
I booked our rental room through booking.com for our stay in Dubrovnik and noticed they could also set up a drivers for you too, that would bring us from the airport to our rental. I was so pleased with this service!
When we landed a gentleman named Mario was there waiting for us. We were so thankful that we chose to hire a driver vs take the public bus from the airport to the bus station in Dubrovnik. The city is on a mountain side with lots of one ways and really busy traffic. Other then the gated city, everything is up hill from the sea. We would have had to find our rental room and drag our luggage all over town and up many, many stairs. Our driver knew our hostess and dropped us off at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to her place. Still, lots of stairs to carry the luggage up, but once we were on her terrace, our jaws dropped with the view!
We enjoyed our ‘welcome’ croatian beer, before heading down all the stairs to the Gated City!
What to do in dubrovnik
We felt this city offered lots of variety for the traveler. Game of Thrones fan? Well, there are all kind of tours you can take to learn about the filming of the series. We decided on Game of Thrones Tour with Karaka Cruise and Dubrovnik Walking Tour. We researched all the tours on TripAdvisors and made our reservations through their website. They are a trustworthy company and we follow the four star or higher when booking.
The tour started on the North side of the city in the docking area. You arrive and enter the replica boat that was used in the series. Each person was given 1 drink upon departure and offered to dress in the costumes on board as your favorite character and then pose for a picture. All while listening to the announcer describe specific details about the filming of the show, while sailing the Adriatic Sea and stopping at the Gated City (Kings Landing) for the walking tour. Our guide was really good with her descriptions of the show and the details to each area that was filmed, along with the episode, season and her hand held pictures captured from the show. The visuals helped put you in the setting, as though you were there watching it.
This tour was about 2 hrs long and cost around $66 US dollars after fees and taxes.
There is sunset kayaking, which I really wanted to do, but ended up never participating in this activity(still disappointed about it!) You start just outside the gated city and kayak over to a secluded beach on the island of Lokrum.
There are beaches to lay on (very rocky), rock jumping, fishing, scooters to rent, islands to visit, cable car ride to top of mountain that have amazing views of the gated city and all the numerous islands, along with the Imperial Fortress built in the 19th century. Walk the wall of the Gated City(loved this day! Amazing views and exercise) While walking the wall there are areas to stop and get a drink while taking in the beautiful views of the sea,rooftops and the villagers going about their daily life in the Old Town. The Panoramic Restaurant is a wonderful place to enjoy watching the sunset with a delicious meal. You will need to take the Cable Car to the top of the mountain, (which is fun on its own)! Give yourself a little extra time up there if you want to explore Fort Imperial Museum regarding the Homeland War from 1991. There are also hiking trails and buggy safari rides!
These were all great adventures in Dubrovnik, but one of our favorites was traveling to the island just out from the gated city called LOKRUM Island. Hiking, swimming, olive groves, peacocks, a replica KINGS THRONE from Game of Thrones, food and drinks by the sea and even a natural water hole called The Dead Sea, which is a salt filled lake linked to the sea.The amount of salt in this lake is suppose to make it very easy to swim/float.
This day became a day of reflection, as it was my birthday and I had great reason to celebrate! I had made it past my mother’s age of death, disease free. I remember being pregnant with my youngest son when I got the phone call from my sister telling me she had passed. I was 30 yrs old, my mom 51. She had been in a nursing home since I was 12 yrs old! WOW! Yet, I felt only embarrassed and ashamed that she had this disease and I could possible end up with it too! It brought on such fear that I literally moved from Colorado when I was 18 years old to Phoenix, Az in hopes of finding a life away from the fear that haunted me everywhere I went in Colorado. But, it didn’t work. When I got a phone set up in Phoenix, and finally got the courage up to call her in the nursing home, I was shaking and crying uncontrollably. I hated calling her, for fear of what my future would bring. Hearing her talk on the phone was a struggle, as Huntington’s Disease slowly destroys your neurological functions, and I could barely understand anything she was saying. The fear was paralyzing and prevented me from reaching out to her. She would often call me collect,(for those of us that remember land line phones and long distant calling, this is where I accept the call and pay for the charges) and many times I would say “sorry she is not here” and hang up. I just couldn’t deal with the guilt and listening to her beg me to come see her or send her money for her cigarettes. For God’s sake, what was wrong with me? This went on for several years! Every now and then I would take a little time and talk to her, but was always in a rush to get off the phone. Reflecting on this now that I have accepted that this was the fate of my family, I can see it differently, but at the time I was just too fearful of her and what would come of me. “Run far and fast… and don’t tell people about Huntington’s because then you are admitting defeat and you will end up with this disease” was the motto in my head! You can’t escape your genetic heritage, but if I did it in my head and said “I won’t get it”…for me, that was what worked. I am not proud of this, but this disease was not well known and I would have rather buried my head then deal with any of this. That is what kept me getting up every morning and going to school, working and enjoying life as best as I could.
Looking back on my mother as a young mother herself, her plate was full. She had 4 children by the age of 22 years old. She did not know that Huntington’s was the disease her father had. He had gone in and out of mental facilities, with no one really knowing what was wrong with him, until he finally took his own life by laying himself on a train track in Denver. I never met my grandfather and I don’t even know how old my mother was when this happened, but that is the only story of him that I remember hearing about. So when my mother started getting symptoms of this disease, my parents were fighting all the time and divorced when I was in first grade, but none of us knew my mom was in the beginning stages of Huntington’s. My dad having no idea why she was so hostile and my mom not understanding what was happening to her. She then moved from our home town of Rifle to Denver, about 4 hours drive, and took my older brother and sister with her. Over the course of the next 6 years, we watched her deteriorate and had no idea what was happening to her. So as a family, we all had to make a decision to put her in nursing facility. I was in sixth grade. It wouldn’t be until I was 15 years old when a Doctor finally diagnosed her with Huntington’s. A phone call and visit to Denver that I will never forget. More on that later…
So this birthday in 2018, I sat on the island of Lokrum in the outdoor bar with Todd, and cheered to me making it to this age and slowly feeling this weight being lifted off my shoulders. I made it past my mom’s death age without having Huntington’s! Reason to celebrate, and I can’t think of a better place, then to be surrounded by the beautiful Adriatic Sea, beautiful Peacocks, olive trees, my husband Todd and the amazing views.