Dubrovnik, Croatia: a Midsummer Affair & Unexpected EncounterPlaces
I’d never seen that shade of deep Mediterranean blue.
The bus ride from the airport to the old town of Dubrovnik was as mesmerizing as it could ever be. When the silhouette of “King’s Landing” formed its shape from afar, I screamed at the top of my lungs… silently. Like most Game of Thrones fans, I made a point to visit Dubrovnik in Croatia.
In my wild imagination, Dubrovnik used to be somewhere distant and unreachable. It’s actually just next to the coast of Italy, but the idea of visiting a fantasy town was out of touch for a college student. The place sounded exotic… and far, but in reality, it’s closer than Asia and Africa. Somehow, I was able to map Dubrovnik out of this planet in my own little head.
Though, in all honesty, Dubrovnik is truly out of this world. Despite the overrun touristy scene, Dubrovnik in its waking hours is unlike any place I’ve seen. Not that I’ve been to a lot of places, but there’s a mystical energy radiating from the town. When I stood atop the city walls at 8 am, I saw the glimmering red-tiled roofs, as well as an endless Mediterranean blue of the Adriatic sea. No noise, no crowds, only my staring in awe. Was it a dream, a painting, or an imagination?
After my first meal, I sat down next to a petite Asian girl at the Onofrio’s Fountain to wait for the Game of Thrones walking tour. She’s writing postcards, in Korean, I thought. Her presence piqued my interest because I didn’t expect to see another solo traveler (who’s also an Asian girl) here. Funny enough, she was also waiting for the same tour.
Where are you from? I asked, unsure if she’s Korean after hearing her accent.
Hong Kong, she answered with a friendly smile.
咦，我都係 Oh? me too! I responded in Cantonese. I thought she was writing in Korean… well, either I had poor eyesight or she had poor handwriting 😛
We bonded immediately over our hometown, mother tongue, and love for Game of Thrones. I was caught by surprise, though — it’s my first time meeting a girl from Hong Kong traveling solo (besides myself).
Sa was also a nomad in her own way. Being a stewardess, she flew more than anyone and traveled on an aggressive schedule. In comparison, I was a slacker and she’s a real traveler. She carried a heavy bag full of cameras, including my dream SX-70. She also had a handwritten travel journal with cute drawings of memories and places. I thought she should just scan those lovely pages onto her travel blog, which was still in the making at the time but finally published now!
We naturally spent every waking moment in Dubrovnik together after the walking tour: eating countless oysters, waking up early to see the Walk of Shame location, watching sunset and moonshine by a cliffside bar. She gave me her hand-rolled cigarettes and I shared my vape. Although we were both tired from a long day of exploring, we still sat by the “Blackwater Bay” sipping on beer and chatting our hearts away past midnight. Relationships, writing, photography, Hong Kong, traveling, horoscopes — the conversation went on endlessly.
As we watched the sea glistening from the moonlight, Sa said she’s reading The Alchemist, a book I meant to but never read. However, I did remember reading a beautiful quote that struck a chord with me, with us at that moment:
Our 3-day friendship was a little parenthesis celebrated with moonlight, alcohol, nicotine, and nostalgia. At the airport, we hugged each other farewell. And like most Cantonese, we didn’t say much. 一切盡在不言中。I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon enough, somewhere in the world, most likely Hong Kong. <3
Somewhere far, far away, in the Adriatic Sea, in a surreal town, I met a new friend from my distant home. For the first time in a long while, I missed home, the faraway home where I was born.