Sep 7:  Dubrovnik to Dublin

Up at 9:30am.  The apartment guy asked us to vacate the rooms by 10:30am but we could leave our bags in the hallway until later.  My flight didn't leave till 7:40pm so this worked for me.

I noted that 6 years ago today I arrived in London to start my first Contiki tour.

Despite the end of the tour, the group was meeting at 11am for food outside Pile Gate.  While waiting, I went into the walled city with Jen to find a jewelry store she saw last night.  Very strange--the Spanish Steps appeared to be in a completely different spot, and Marco Polo had vanished.  But we turned around and the store was right there.  I had only 50 kunas left (of my original 300), and 43 of that was for the buses to the airport, so I took another 100 out of the ATM.  (It's ~5.3 kunas to the dollar.)  Money goes faster in Dubrovnik.

All of us had breakfast at Dub, except for Gorana (who had to go back to Budva before starting another tour here on Sunday) and Ruth (who had already left for the airport).  We did more goodbyes, but again, some people were sticking around so there was no sense of finality.

In the remaining time I wanted to go up to Ft. Lovrijenac.  I couldn't quite find the way up.  I did find a little park on the other side of the fort that was crawling with giant ants that were carrying stuff.  OK, since you asked, here's another Sesame Street clip.

Fort and walled city from the park.  More of a parking lot than a park.

I bumped into Hiedi, Jeremy and Cristy.  Hiedi directed me to the path that leads to the fort, and added that Charles and some others had just gone up there.

As I walked I realized that we hadn't passed around an envelope for tips for Gorana.  Maybe it slipped everyone's mind because of the lack of finality.  I remembered that Veronica was continuing on the next tour with Gorana so I hoped I'd bump into her.

I caught up to Charles, Jung and Veronica at Ft. Lovrijenac.  Veronica said a few people tipped Gorana privately.  So I gave Veronica money to give to Gorana.  It would have bothered me if I hadn't.  [As I type this I think they're both in Split--Gorana wondering what she did wrong to be denied a tip, and Veronica showing off her new 30 haircut.]

From the fort--Nautika and Dub on the left, and you've all met Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik is a good-looking town.

This was very very odd.  In a window at the fort, we saw this pigeon with wings outstretched.  He was breathing and his eyes were barely open, so he probably wasn't dead.  Was he injured?  Sick?  Sunning himself?  The latter was a possibility but I'd never seen a living healthy pigeon in this position before.  Later we returned here, and found that the pigeon had been transformed into a graceful swan!  That was one of the coolest things ever.  OK, that didn't happen, but the pigeon had vanished, which was almost as surprising.  So maybe he was just getting his bronze on.  [9-15-12:  A reader from Slovenia informs me that this is a Common Swift, not a pigeon.  I defer to her ornithogeographic expertise.]

This might be one photo too many of Dubrovnik.

Maybe not.  Good angle here.

Back down near the entrance to the fort I found this corpse hatch.  Did I say corpse hatch?  I meant...innocence tube!  (Same episode referred to in my Taipei screaming-kid anecdote.)

Walled-up doorways like this always remind me of The Cask of Amontillado.  I guarantee you there's a corpse in there.

I still had time to kill before my flight, so I continued with the others back into old town.  We walked through the high (seaside) part, below the walls.

Cats of all races, getting along.

They didn't get along with the black cat, in the alley chasing his tail and pawing at something.

This is crazy.  How many cats are going to show up?  We didn't stick around to find out.

This reminded me...Gorana told us to look for the 8-20 door if we wanted to go to that cool cafe on the rocks that was in yesterday's photos.  I'm sure if they had a 4-20 door, more people would show up.

Nearing 2:30pm I broke away so I could leave for the airport, and we did more "final" hugs, which were truly final in this case.  I retrieved my bag from the apartment at 3pm and took a public bus to the bus station where we had arrived yesterday.  I got off one stop too soon...I knew I was in the general vicinity but wasn't sure where the stop would be, and didn't want to overshoot it.  So I had to walk an extra 5 minutes.  I arrived at 3:45pm and waited for the 4:55pm airport bus.

Observation:  Dubrovnik contains mostly tourists, so I can't judge the local girls.  English is more prevalent here than anywhere else on the tour.

The trip to the airport took 45 minutes.  I heard a lot of brogues, so I guessed that almost everyone was taking my same flight to Dublin.

The airport is tiny.  Only 17 check-in counters for all airlines combined.

I bought food for the first time on a plane (a tasty chicken & stuffing sandwich) because that breakfast wasn't enough for a day.  Also I had to ration my remaining kunas and bought sodas instead of food before I left.  Worked out perfectly--no paper kunas remaining.  En route, a flight attendant announced that it was warmer in Dublin than in Dubrovnik.  Many people laughed.  So I guess it rarely happens.

Landed in Dublin around 10:15pm.  Took the Aircoach to the Trinity College stop and walked to the hotel.  Riding into town I saw more bars than in any other city in the world.  At least one on every block.  James Joyce once issued a challenge--try to cross Dublin without passing a pub.  Now I know where this came from.  Lots of ethnic restaurants too--Chinese, Thai, Indian, Persian, etc.  I understand that immigration is a new topic in Ireland--people are flooding into the Celtic Tiger and it's losing a bit of its character.  That the Aircoach driver was black and the hotel receptionist Indian was telling.  On the other hand, as I walked along the river to my hotel with everyone out on a Friday night, I heard plenty of American accents.

Noticed that every street sign is in English but with the Irish translation in smaller letters above it.  Nice touch of pride.

I arrived at the hotel, which I thought was just outside Temple Bar (the bar area) but it's somewhat still in it.  Noisiest hotel room ever.

View out my window the activity outside...

...and the bar across the street.

I was tempted to stay out in the party atmosphere, but I had a lot of stuff to do tomorrow and had to recover from the flight.  Simply Sleep and earplugs took care of the noise.  To bed 12:20am.