We descended to the coastal town of Dubrovnik, even then, a destination for vacationers. We were running low on cash after so many weeks on the road. The most economical accommodations we could find were little huts built in the shape of a large doghouse. What did it matter? We were guests in
this beautiful and historic city, the jewel of the Dalmatian coast. For the first
time since Vienna, we were in the company of large numbers of tourists
from Italy and other places in the West.
We took a ferry up the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and spent
the night on the magical lavender-scented island of Hvar. This island featured a beautiful marble plaza, a survival of the period when the Venetian Republic was one
of the world's great powers and the Dalmatian Coast was under
In Hvar, I had my one touristical mishap.
I was foolhardy enough to swim on a rocky beach without footgear, and I slipped and cut my head. I found myself lying on my back on the beach looking up at a crowd of people, all of whom wanted to help
me. It was one of those moments when the only common language was German, so
I had to do my own translating, when I would have preferred to lie on the beach and be pathetic until help arrived. The only medical facility on the island was an asthma clinic. (A feature of medical planning under communism was that you went to one hospital for your heart,
another for you stomach, and so forth.) The clinic was empty, and a very nice
doctor took a great deal of care in stitching up the gash in my forehead. I still
have the scar, but it is the kind of scar that you want people to ask about.
We got back on the ferry and made our way up the coast to Rijeka. We took a train ride up to the Llubljana, the capital of the Slovenian part of Yugoslavia. This was a tidy, efficient Alpine city, virtually indistinguishable from a town in Austria or Switzerland. Everyone had a cousin in Cleveland.
We felt that we had come full circle, returning to the Austrian ambience where
our journey had begun. We said good-bye to Eastern Europe, and flew
to Marseilles on our way to Britain and the
much-anticipated telephone calls to our parents.
Next chapter: Aftermath