Week 118 - Dubrovnik
Exploring Dubrovnik and Lovćen
Exploring Dubrovnik and Lovćen
The first few days of this week were a continuing education in why Montenegro has a reputation as one of the wettest countries in Europe. We huddled inside and waited it out, venturing out briefly to walk Rosie who frankly wasn’t interested.
It does give us the opportunity to continue to chase the leaks in the boat. A tube and a half of silicon later and we were disappointed on Tuesday to find the water continuing to drip in from one spot. By a slow process of elimination we’ve finally (we think) sourced it — water is entering at the top of the radar arch, running down cables and then dripping on to the inside of wooden lining above the windows, then running down the wall. From where we first spotted water to where we now think the leak is coming from is around 4 meters.
The challenge is always you need the rain to see if things are still leaking and then you need it to stop and dry so you can try seal it. Leaks is definitely a trigger word for us now — on Friday when we stopped off at the supermarket with friends, Claire asked Karina “Have you seen any leeks” which of course we have! Plenty of leaks this week.
On Wednesday the engines and generator had a full service. The Volvo Penta mechanics here were very professional and efficient. There were four of them, one on each engine, one on the generator and one up top passing tools etc. In four hours they’d completed everything and the engines are now in great shape ready for next season with new air filters, impellers, oil change, oil filters, fuel filters etc. While I had sticker shock when I saw the original quote, I quickly decided it was worth every penny. If you take the parts out, the labour came to around €1,000 euros — if I’d done it myself I think I’d have spent around 50 hours to their 4. Most importantly the corroded solenoid for the gear selector is replaced too.
Wednesday night we had a visit from Chuck and Dawn, a couple that I’ve met online and who were following in our footsteps through Greece, Albania and now into Montenegro, but on a tandem bike. We’ve been sharing information over the last few months and it was fun to finally meet up and enjoy a meal together. They are travelling with a young daschund called Charlie, who’s just over 12 months old — Rosie wasn’t too sure at first about this interloper on her boat, but they soon started playing together happily. A good experience for our grumpy dog who is fond of people but not always great with other pets.
Thursday the weather lifted and we decided to pop across the border and finally get into Croatia and visit Dubrovnik. It still does my head in as an Australian that we can literally just “pop across the border” into another country for a day trip — driving and border crossing time it was under 2 hours to get there.
Dubrovnik is a spectacular old walled city. In many ways similar to the ones we’ve seen at Budva, Kotor and even Monemvasia back in Greece, but it’s definitely on a grander scale. Karina loved the architecture and all the fine details on the buildings and the city walls are impressive and imposing. Walking them was a fun experience. I can’t imagine what it would be like in summer with the hordes around — at times there are thousands of people up on the city walls when the cruise ships are in, we largely had them to ourselves.
Unfortunately like a lot of major tourist places here I think it’s become a very “Disneyfied” experience, it’s almost artificial in how clean and pristine it feels. To some extent this is not Dubrovnik’s fault — it was extensively bombed during the Balkan Wars, with around 1/3 of buildings destroyed and 2/3 damaged, so much of the city is relatively recently rebuilt.
And of course “Game of Thrones” has left its mark in a negative way. It’s hard to feel immersed in a culture when it’s become a game of “spot the movie set” and every second shop sells authentic Game of Thrones merchandise. I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, I really wanted to see the “Steps of Shame”, perhaps the most recognisable of the locations used, but beyond knowing they are really called “The Spanish Steps” I can’t tell you anything about why they were built and what their significance is.
Overall it’s good that it’s being restored and preserved, but at the same time it really doesn’t feel authentic. It’s a bit like those period movies where no one has any dirt on their faces and all the costumes are freshly ironed — something’s not quite right. Nevertheless we both had a great time and are glad we saw it, but we probably won’t visit again.
Friday saw us getting back into the boat chores. While we want to take advantage of the weather and travel, we also need to finish up a few things. Now knowing what the rains like when it’s settled in, the covers have come off the boat (they were getting a bit mildewy and the canvas was stretching from the water pooling). I also pulled off the radar dish to get to the likely source of the leak and reseat that with a lot more silicon underneath.
The other thing starting to happen is that couples are heading back home to both the UK and Australia (which is where most of us here in Porto Montenegro are from). Our friends Shawn and Lyn left Saturday morning, so on Friday we arranged a dinner to farewell them. With 9 people, Nat and Colin kindly let us use their boat “Saved By Grace” as the venue. SBG is almost 10 metres longer than us and a little wider, which makes a big difference when hosting a party!
As always cooking in a foreign country requires some creativity. Karina made sherry balls, but couldn’t find sherry, so instead we ended up with Rakamelo balls (which tasted just like sherry balls). We’ve also been enjoying “Dark and Stormy’s” as a good winter cocktail (Margaritas in this weather just didn’t feel right). A Dark and Stormy is rum and ginger beer with a twist of lime, but of course, we can’t easily find ginger beer anywhere here. The one place we can find it is a speciality liqour store and a tiny bottle of ginger beer, enough for one drink, is more expensive than the alcohol.
Another of our “Boat Neighbours” up this end of the marina are Claire and Ollie, we’ve chatted with them on and off but haven’t yet managed to find time to do something together. Finally on Saturday the weather was good and they were free so we went for a drive to explore the Kotor Serpentine (a crazy winding road above Kotor), a visit to Mount Lovćen and the first snow of the season, then Cetinje for lunch. We also stopped off at Budva on the way back home. We had a lovely time getting to know them better and enjoying the spectacular views that are everywhere we drive.
During the week we signed the contracts on the company in Bulgaria which means two things can now happen. One of course is buy a property, the second is we can use that company to buy a car in Bulgaria. So tomorrow I’m off to Sofia to buy a car and drive it back to Montenegro! Hopefully it’s not too big an adventure, but it’s possible that there’ll be an epic tale to tell in next week’s entry.
Until next time,
Tim & Karina