Friday, October 8, 2010

Lokrum Island - First Attempt

We boarded the ferry on a dark gray, dreary morning at 10:00. The sky certainly looked stormy, but the water was relatively calm. The crew didn't seem concerned and neither did the strange looking peacocks who greeted us as we got off the boat.
We started off on our island exploration

Locrum Island has had an identity crisis for years. One of its most famous associations, Benedictine Abbey, goes back to 1023. The monastery was abandoned when the church sold it without the approval of the resident monks. Word is that they put a curse on the place before they left.

Next, the island was known as the Island of Kings. Returning from the Crusades, Richard the Lion-heart was shipwrecked on the island in 1192. He wanted to build a church on the island, but the citizens of Dubrovnik persuaded him to build it in the city instead.

Because of its benign climate, Lokrum has had a reputation since the days of those first monks of being a great place to cultivate rare plants. As explorers traveled farther and farther away, the collection became all the more extensive and exotic.
We loved the olive trees - at least one of which is known to have lived over 400 years.

Well . . . Exit the monks. Enter Maximilan Ferdinand of Hapsburg. He transformed the ancient ruins of the abbey into a mansion and developed an elaborate botanical garden, carrying on the tradition of plant cultivation.

I snapped a photo of the alter piece inside the garden chapel and it started pouring rain. We took shelter in a tool shed where the workers had built a fire to ward off the chill as they painted machine housing. It wasn't the most romantic place to wait out a storm, and the smell was fairly intense, but at least we were under a roof.
As the storm diminished, we left the shed to continue our walk as true explorers would do, only to be told that the island was being evacuated!
There was nothing to do except board the ferry and head back. Wouldn't you know it? We reached port ,just as the clocks struck 12:00 noon. The rain stopped; the sun came out. It was a beautiful afternoon in Dubrovnik

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