First, we drove along the cliffs overlooking old town Dubrovnik, stopping long enough to snap some good photos of the city on the Adriatic, with its orange-tiled roofs. We passed many olive and cypress trees, blooming oleanders in all colors, and vineyards along the route to the Konavle Valley, which is surrounded by hills on one side and steep cliffs on another. Croatia is very narrow around Dubrovnik and Konavle, so we could see Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro in the distance, less than 10 miles away.
Our guide talked a lot about the war of the former Yugoslavia in the late 1980's/early 1990's. She said that about 14,000 Croatians died and another 1,000 were never found. According to our guide, this bloody war was started by the Serbians when some of the states (like Croatia and Slovenia) of Yugoslavia wanted to secede from the country and be independent. The Yugoslavian constitution, which was done at the end of World War II, allowed this breakup, and after Tito the dictator died, things started to sour amongst the states. Serbia was a land-locked state and decided to take this opportunity to seize some of the land along the Adriatic Sea that was owned by Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. Serbia lost that war, and today the country is smaller than the state of Serbia was when it was part of Yugoslavia. Mom and I have seen the destruction in the Serbian capital of Belgrade done by the UN (and the USA) when we were on a river cruise there. We've also seen the destruction in Dubrovnik, which was bombarded for over eight months. It's all very sad and so recent--makes it seem more real, doesn't it?
After riding about 45 minutes, we arrived at the little town of Ljuca in the Konavle valley, stopping at a small farm along a cold, fast-running river for a snack of almonds, dried figs (they had huge fig trees, but they aren't harvested until the fall), homemade bread, cheese, smoked ham, and either local white or red wine. Nice snack and clean potty! We stayed about 30 minutes. Nothing like a glass of wine at 10:30 in the morning!
Next, we were onto Cavtat, a lovely little seaside village on the Adriatic that reminded me of many of the small towns in Greece/Italy/Turkey. We had an hour to stroll around the town, eat a gelato, and check out the gorgeous yachts in the harbor. Cavtat had many souvenir shops and outdoor cafes, but it was very warm under the tents, so we found a shady bench to sit and eat our gelato. Cavtat also has a boat ferry to Dubrovnik, which makes it an "on your own" option.
We left Cavtat at 12:30 and were at the main gate of Dubrovnik at 1 pm. They gave us complimentary shuttle passes to get back to the ship, but mom and I remembered how hot the old town got with its white marble streets and high walls blocking the wind. So, we just went on back to the Carnival Breeze.
We enjoyed a late lunch in the buffet -- both of us got the Mongolian Wok since we hadn't eaten it in almost a week. Our cruise was half over!
Late in the afternoon John Heald, the cruise director, announced bad news for the next day -- there would be be a 24-hour strike all across Italy in protest of the economic crisis. The bad news was that the Carnival Breeze would be in Venice, and none of the vaporettos (water buses) were running since they are public transportation. The good news was that Carnival arranged for a group of private vaporettos to run shuttles from the ship to St. Marks for those who were not on tours. I'm sure hiring several private vaporettos cost Carnival much more than they recouped by charging a shuttle fee. However, the cruise line scored big public relations points with its guests.
Dinner was at 6 pm at Farenheit 555 Steakhouse. This specialty restaurant has a $35 pp surcharge. It's very good, but some couples might think an extra $70 (per couple) could be spent better elsewhere. We were at a table for eight, and we all loved our food. I had the tuna tartare appetizer, beefsteak tomato and Gorgonzola cheese salad, surf & turf (Maine lobster tail plus a 4-oz filet), and date/yogurt sorbet for dessert. Mom had the crab cake appetizer and lamb chop main course, along with a baked potato. (I had mashed potatoes with wasabi and horseradish as a side). She had a cappuccino for dessert. Our table was fun and we laughed a lot. The eight of us covered North America - Florida, Oregon, California, Vancouver, New York, North Carolina, and Georgia. Fun group and lots of laughs.
After a delicious, memorable dinner, it was time to return to the cabin and read for a while. It had been another good day on the Carnival Breeze. The next day we would be in Venice.
Carnival Breeze Mediterranean Cruise Itinerary