Today we have to be tendered to shore in our ship's life boats, which is an adventure in itself. Although Mary Jo Fitz is supposed to be tour guide, it's MJWD who scouts out the tender tickets. MJF, however, does a great job once we are ashore.
On the Riva promenade, we are faced with a wide avenue dotted with cafes, palms, grassy knolls and flowers along the water's edge. Split perches on the flat lands by the sea, while in the distance, bare white and black rocks soar toward the clouds.
It's a bit humid and cloudy, but the temperature is in the low 70's, so for the most part it's comfortable.
We enter the walled part of the city through an ancient archway and find ourselves in the ruins of the Diocletian Palace. Original ceilings arch overhead, stained, old, small and large blocks of blackened stone. The enclave is jammed with souvenir stalls, reminding us of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The walls, archways, pillars, cathedrals and bell towers provide a beauitful setting for this town. I fall in love with its Venetian style, red brick rooftops, statues, gargoles, and shells carved everywhere. The four gates into the walled city are named silver, gold, iron and bronze, though there is little sign of those metals now. We wander the narrow streets, coming upon squares with fountains, trees, pigeons amassing. If you look up as you traverse the avenues, you might see old wooden shutters gracing the ancient walls, or a painted balcony strewn with flowers, or something called inchy rooms. We find the statue of St. Dominus and rub his bronze toe for good luck. From one side, he looks as though he is a scholar reading a book; from the other, he is a wizard casting a spell.
There is music all over. A quartet sings and plays just inside a gate. We trod along original stone, smoothed by many feet.
We pass an open market, with the pungent smell of fresh fish in the air
We sit in a beautiful rectangular courtyard under white umbrellas for lunch. We toast, "Jivyalay" (not spelled right of course) in Croatian.
It's a wonderful day and, as we sail back in our tenders, I look back on the lovely town and wonder if I will be back here some time. Probably not, but the sight of its sprawling beauty on the seashore will stay with me forever.
Tomorrow, gorgeous Venice.