JULY 25, 1953
ZAGREB, Yugoslavia—One more whole day in Dubrovnik and we awoke to a clear blue sky. The first thing we did was to go off on a little boat to a nearby island where Dubrovnik has installed a home for World War II orphans in an old monastery. This is a place where Maximilian and Carlota came often to visit and where Carlota came alone after his death. We saw the stone table at which she sat looking out over the water and I could see how the peace of this spot would appeal to her.
The children were all bathing, having a wonderful time. They attend school here and once a week go into Dubrovnik, but they look upon town life as synonymous with museums and historical monuments and the authorities now feel they are bringing up the children in an atmosphere which will not fit them for the life they must live in. Mr. Jaksic, who was showing us around, said with a sigh: "With the best intentions, how many mistakes we make!"
On the way to the port in the morning we had been taken to a charming site which is under consideration for a possible hospital. The views were beautiful and the old town loses none of its charm from whatever point you view it.
We looked into some of the shops which had handwork and I bought a baby dress for one of my great grandchildren, with characteristic Yugoslav embroidery.
We did not have a single meal indoors while in Dubrovnik and we spent a good part of the afternoon back on the rocks swimming and bathing. The water was so delightful, warm and yet not too warm.
After dinner we went to see a swimming competition and a water polo game in the harbor. There was such excitement. The two competing teams were from Split and Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik came out the winner both in points in the swimming tests and in the water polo.
There was a man's team and a woman's team for all the swimming events and they competed on the same basis and on the whole the women made just about as good time as the men. The competitions lasted till well after 10 o'clock and then in the town square a wonderful old folk play was put on. The stage was in the entrance to the old church but the whole square was really the stage. People entered through the archways, the prince and his courtiers went up to a balcony in the old monastery and from there they watched the play, and you were carried back 400 years and felt you were living with the actors.
I was astonished to find that in this town of a little over 19,000 inhabitants they have a theatre company which runs summer and winter. Amateurs are called in from among the citizens to act as members of the crowd or in some special capacity, but, for the most part, professionals do the important work and it is done extremely well.
I have never spent a more delightful evening or felt myself in a more medieval atmosphere.
It was late when we went home to pack and we had to be ready for breakfast at 6 a.m. this morning to drive for an hour to the airport where we took off at 7:45 for Zagreb.
These airports are just fields and one cannot help thinking what they must be like after a little rain. I was told that the whole valley in which this airfield is situated is usually under water in the winter, so I suspect the winter schedule does not include Dubrovnik.
We left with great regret and would have loved another week of this delightful atmosphere and carefree life.