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  • I pulled into Dubrovnik, Croatia after two bus rides north from Kotor, Montenegro. I started towards a nearby youth hostel, but on the way an old lady came up to me with an open room, real cheap, so I took it. It was a big converted closet, but it worked. Next door to her house was a scooter rental place, and I decided that would be a good idea. You can't drive in the old town, but I wanted to ride up and down the Dalmatian coast. So the next day I took one north up the highway about forty miles. The coast is simply beautiful! It felt very similar to driving up Highways 1 along the central coast of California, though not as rugged. Islands of all sizes dot the coast, reminding me of the Sea of Cortez on the Baja California. After a winter in Moscow, it was like I was back home, though still eastern Europe. And it was just as hot! Sitting on that scooter in shorts I watched my thighs baking in the sun. Fortunately I did wear a helmet, because my bald head would have been a cooked. At one point in my ride I passed a long line of bikers going the other way. They all cheered me. That also reminded me of Highway 1.

    When I got back my legs were burning something bad, so I decided to go jump in the sea. The water was so clear and inviting there was no way I could stop myself. I took a ferry from the old town to the island right off the coast, walked over to the nude beach on a small section of the island, got naked, and jumped in. This was my first, but not last, time at a nude beach, and it felt wonderful. I had skinny dipped in the past, at night in some creek or lake, and there is nothing like the water flowing over those jewels. Quite refreshing.

    The old town itself is quite dramatic. You can certainly see how wealthy the city was in the Middle Ages (when it was called Ragusa) the squares, the cathedrals. One can also see how easy it was for the Serbs to bomb the place during the last war. There's a ridge of mountains which overlook the inland side of the old town, where Serb artillery was lobbed down. At one of the gates into the old town was a map of all the damage from the war, though everything has now been repaired. There was absolutely no reason for the Serbs to bomb the town, just cultural destruction. Fortunately, the town rebuilt.

    I was there during the World Cup, and one night I was there Croatia was playing Australia. The game was shown on a big screen TV built into one of the old town walls on the main square, and there was a very large contingent of Australian tourists. The entire square was packed with people, the Croats wearing their colors, and the Aussies wearing there’s. Whenever I see any representation of Balkan nationalism, I get scared. I imagined Croatian fascist football hooligans who had participated in real ethnic cleansing personally attacking foreigners, especially Australians or anybody spoke English. The Croats had to win the game to make into the second round, while the Aussies would advance with a tie. When the Coats scored, the roar was so loud I though the medieval foundations of the town would crumble. When the Aussies scored, there were enough of them to create a roar as well. Ultimately the game ended in a tie, which meant the natives were out of the Cup (Oh Šuker!). I began to prepare mentally for the pogrom, but it didn't happen. In fact, I saw some Croats actually congratulating the Aussies. Damn! Where's the nationalism? I guess I was a little disappointed, not even one ass kicking.

    As I fought my way through the crowd to leave the square, I ducked into a souvenir shop and bought this snow globe.
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