Dubrovnik is pretty….pretty touristy. And there’s a legit reason for that:
Hordes of people come to Dubrovnik because it looks like this.
Visiting in late November, we avoided the belched-out-by-cruise-ships crowds while relishing the sunny, windy weather that perfectly showcased Dubrovnik’s sparking water and austere architecture. Still, there’s a sort of dead feeling to the old town, as if all the residents fled years ago, taking all their vitality and drying laundry up the surrounding steep hills, leaving behind over-priced bakeries and t-shirt shops.
That said, Dubrovnik is not without its intriguing details. I was particularly taken with the prominent public display of Dubrovnik’s former official unit of measurement, the Dubrovnik “Arm”.
Dudes like this—-wearing a sword, chain mail and a Bee Gees haircut—-are something you see a lot of in medieval towns of central Europe, especially Germany. They’re called Roland Statues and, normally erected by city hall, they mean “Check it out, we are a free city and we can do business.”
This column-carving of a knight, located at the East end of the main drag in Dubrovnik since 1418, is one of those Roland statues, though this particular guy is called Orlando (which I guess is how you say Roland in Croatian).
Check it out: the lower part of Orlando’s arm is the same length the line carved on the step below him—-and there you have it, Dubrovnik’s standard unit of measurement, Orlando’s forearm.
Just across from Orlando’s column, we visited the 16th century Sponza palace. It’s a pleasing mash-up of Gothic and Renaissance styles, but the best part is inside the courtyard.
Let’s get a close up on that lower archway, shall we?
On the edge of the archway is Latin quote. (Thank you Wikipedia for the translation):
- Fallere nostra vetant et falli pondera. Meque pondero cum merces ponderat ipse deus.
- “Our weights do not permit cheating. When I measure goods, God measures with me.”
What I love about this is how a secular activity (the weighing and measuring of retail goods) is given the most severe religious importance, overseen by the ultimate regulatory authority, God. (I want to see a rendering of God wearing a hard-hat and wielding a measuring tape and a clip board, don’t you?)
Later that evening, HOB and I really could have used the assistance of Orlando and/or God in choosing the proper settings of our apartment’s washing machine. Having found ourselves on one of those semi-miraculous situations where our rented room contained a washing machine, we stuffed our dirty clothes inside (using dish soap since we didn’t have any laundry detergent). As the machine’s setting were in Croatian, we turned its dial and pushed a few buttons at random. Well, this random selection resulted in an unbelievable two hour long wash cycle, quite a pain in the ass since we were exhausted and had to delay going to bed until the machine finally stopped tumbling.
Photos (above) are provided for your reference, in case you too do not understand Croatian and find yourself without the aid of Orlando/God in programming the proper length of a washing machine cycle in Dubrovnik.
How we got to Dubrovnik: bus from Split.
Where we slept: Apartments Superb View. Price: €36.90 for a double. Recommended: yes.