It’s Good to Get Out — of the Country

The Writing Cave has been very quiet lately, because no one has been in it. Rune Skelley is only just returned from a seagoing tour of some of the birthplaces of Western thought.

We began in Venice, Italy. A fascinating and crowded place. If you go, wear your most comfortable shoes. Learning your way around the narrow, twisting streets (more like roofless hallways in some cases) is challenging, but finding Piazza San Marco is easy. If the crowds are getting denser, you’re headed toward San Marco. Also, there would seem to be exactly one music shop in Venice, and no two people will give you matching directions for how to reach it. We think it may be enchanted.

Next up: Dubrovnik, Croatia. A gorgeous place with a rich and tragic history (ancient and otherwise). It’s a major filming location for Game of Thrones, a show we don’t watch. But we know people who do, so now we get to tease them about this. Nearby is Cavtat, known as the Croatian Riviera. Due to extensive propaganda when we were young and impressionable, we had entirely the wrong image of Croatia in our minds. It has palm trees and crystalline waters. Some of the “roads” are… well, to call them inadequate would still imply that they qualify as roads in a meaningful way, and they don’t. How about, there are single-lane shared delusions that people drive on in both directions.

Then it was on to Kotor, Montenegro. Another ancient walled city with modern development surrounding it. The Montenegrin language is very similar to Croatian. Both are slavic languages. As one of our guides put it, the people from those countries can understand each other perfectly — when they want to. In Montenegro, we saw signage using three different alphabets (Latin, Montenegrin Latin, and Cyrillic). Sometimes more than one alphabet appeared on a single sign.

In Greece we visited Olympia and Athens. Our visit to the site of the original Olympic games was the day after the lighting of the torch. It was here that we started to slow down on taking pictures of olive trees, because we began to realize that they are everywhere. We visited a farm to learn about how they’re cultivated and processed, and had a nice feast and enough wine to get us dancing in public. We hit Athens during a strike that had the metro shut down, meaning the traffic was even worse than usual. But we still got to go up to the Acropolis and see the Parthenon. If you go, wear grippy shoes — the stones of the Acropolis are polished smooth and slick from the passage of millions of feet.

We bought lots of souvenirs and gifts. So many in fact that we needed to buy an extra suitcase to pack for the trip home. But the best item was one that we didn’t even have to pay for. The shopkeeper gave it to us for free when we bought something else at a store in Athens. It’s a CD of disco bouzouki music (stay with us) including, as a special bonus: recipes! Yes. Not a typo. And they gave us this treasure FOR FREE. We can’t promise such miracles will befall every visitor, but obviously we recommend that you go to Athens.

A writing partner is someone to help you see the world, and join you on inspiring journeys.

PS: back stateside, our rental car had this indispensable feature.

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