"when two normal people meet you can't go wrong"

Trip Start May 19, 2010
Trip End Aug 03, 2010

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Where I stayed
Bozo and Sujezana's apartments.

Flag of Croatia  , Dubrovacko-Neretvanska,
Friday, June 4, 2010

Viganj sits quietly on the southern slopes of the Pelješac Peninsula, the occupied homes huddling around the pristine turquoise coast. Stepping back up the hill lies evidence of the towns past contraction; empty, derelict homes grouped together as they endure slow decay. We stayed right in what would be the heart of the town in an apartment rented to us by Randall's cousin Bozo (pronounced bor - jore). Indeed we relished both the highly welcoming company and their most delicious home cooking, setting a lovely tone to the family visits whilst we were in town.

Just a short walk down the road we dined at a seaside restaurant run by another cousin, one who's considerable knowledge of the history of the area proved to most fascinating. Of greatest intrigue was the revelation that the Dalmatian blood line predominantly stems from the old Illyrian tribes of the region. While they were conquered by Rome over 2000 years ago, within Rome they acquired much power. Indeed they were so successful that three Illyrians became Roman emperors. One such individual was Diocletian, whose residence we had stayed in whilst in Split. Another was Constantine, the Emperor who was central in organizing and standardizing the Catholic Church. And yet we found the history stretched even further back into the depths of pre history, with the ancestors of the Illyrians having lived in the very same region we were dining in for over ten thousand years. Quite an alien concept for folk living in a city yet to crack two centuries.

A trek up the hillside brought us to the now almost deserted village of Nakovana, the only residents being another of Randall's cousins and his resilient Kiwi wife. Once a tiny but thriving village of over 100 the residents were scattered, including Randall's grandmother, by the hostility and destruction of the Second World War. While the historic nature of the village has afforded it historical protection, time is slowly and surly making itself felt. Its tiny lanes empty, save for a few remaining remnants of daily life. Happily we were able to inspect the most excellent work done on the restoration of the old family home. The fixed roof and new windows and door standing out against the back drop of rubble and ruin.

Back in Viganj we enjoyed lazing about in the warm Croatian sun; touring the coast with Bozo on his sturdy little runabout and reading in the sun. Our accommodation was the first equipped with a kitchen so we relished the ability to finally do some cooking of our own. Evenings were spent sitting up talking with Bozo, hearing his views and tales over glasses of the local red wine. While not a traditional tourist haunt, the peace of Viganj coupled with the family hospitality made us sad to leave.
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