Last summer I worked for a British clothing store named Jack Will on Cape Cod. There were quite a few perks to the job. However the main one was getting to drive around their signature pink and blue striped 1994 Landrover Defender. And that was the car I learned to drive in, and the only one I have driven manual since.
Update – the day before yesterday my friends and I decided to rent a car and rode trip through Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. If you are unsure where either Bosnia or Montenegro are…don’t worry. If I had been asked that just a few days ago I would have likely pointed to Africa with crossed fingers. They are countries located south of Croatia along the Adriatic Sea.
Manual cars from the Croatian rental companies are about half the price of those that are automatic. And that simple fact gave me the confidence to rent a small VW – and practice stalling out throughout eastern Europe for a few days. It took a little while to get use to the clutch on this car – but sure enough, three beaches and six hours later, we arrived in Dubrovnik.
There are few places I’ve traveled to that leave little to the imagination when imagining what they once were like. Places that have changed so little, it would only take an alteration in the residents dress to transport it back in time. Dubrovnik was one of those places. Where the same stones and walls have been blown and beaten by both nature and man since its inception.
We drove in late after an exhaustive and exciting day, but still found the energy to walk through the city. And it was a dramatic site. The tall stone walls of the harbor castle casting haunting shadows upwards to the stars. Unlike any place I have ever visited before, there was one way in and one way out – across the drawbridge and through the castle gates.
This historic entrance didn’t only lead to a historic site – but instead to nightclubs, bars, restaurants, shops, hustling street performers, and a youthful energy. But not even a sugar fix at one of the ice cream shops could keep our eyes open. So around 1:30am we walked back to our accommodation.
I was tired, but the next morning was awake at 7:30am with my camera in hand. The girls were out cold, and after a few failed attempts to have them wake up I realized I was doing neither of us a favor. So I headed out by myself, ready to take a few hours to capture and explore the city.
The city was still stunning, but had been much more provoking the night before. It was those shadows. Those shadows that made you think of countless nights such a place has seen. And all the secrets and stories they’ve to call their own from such a history. In the full light a day it seemed to loose much of its mystery. Especially the few times I passed tour groups whom willingly slapped ID numbers on their shirts and followed a guide who held up some silly beacon – like a stuffed animal on a stick or pirate flag.
My tour was worthwhile, though. Reason one being for the pictures I was able to take, the other that I was then able to show the girls what seemed meaningful to me in the city once they had woken up. And after that second tour, they were just as ready as I was to move on to our next destination. Which is…in the next post.